Black Sheep

This page is about the trope. For the 1996 film, go here. For the 2007 film, go here.

The Black Sheep is the one member of a family who does not fit in, the prodigal son, the castaway from The Clan or from the Big, Screwed-Up Family — unless he left on his own, smashing the door and Calling the Old Man Out. Can be The Unfavorite, but not necessarily.

A Black Sheep is not just someone who doesn't fit in with the family — it's someone who rejects their role in the family, either deliberately or not. Or possibly someone whose reputation or morality is at odds with the family reputation/morality, because it makes them different from the rest of the family.

The Black Sheep might be The Unfavorite but he can also be the Favorite instead. The latter case, of course, drives The Dutiful Son crazy as to why he's the favored one.

Sometimes the Black Sheep is really bad — AKA a criminal. Other times a Black Sheep is just considered rebellious, and might be a Cool Big Sis or Cool Uncle. On occasion, he is actually the Defector from Decadence. Often, he is a Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold.

In kids shows there's a common Aesop where a Black Sheep from one of the kids' families will show up as either a Cool Big Sis (or brother) or a Cool Uncle. Often the Cool Relative will inspire emulation by all the kids in town (sometimes excepting only the kid who is actually related to him). Eventually this emulation gets the kids into trouble. Either the Black Sheep helps the kids out and then delivers the Aesop that they really don't want to be like him, or he reveals himself to be a Jerkass and leaves the kids in their mess (often to be saved by the one kid who didn't emulate the Black Sheep).

Contrast White Sheep, where all inversions of this trope belong. An Oddball in the Series is often called its "black sheep".


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Urd from Ah! My Goddess is an example of the Cool Big Sis who is also a Black Sheep. Her reputation just doesn't quite fit with the expected behavior of a Goddess (being half-Demon doesn't help).
  • Black Clover has Noelle Silva, the daughter of the Silva family who can't properly control her magic. Due to her lack of mastery over her powers, she is seen as a black sheep by her Badass Family and this trope is made even worse for her since their mother died giving birth to her. Noelle's siblings openly state — to Noelle and to others — that she is a shame and they believe she should have died instead of their mother. At the same time, Noelle can also be the White Sheep, as she is the sole member of her family so far who is not a raging, elitist Jerk Ass that actively diminishes those of the lower class.
  • Bleach: Uryuu views his father Ryuuken as the black sheep of their Quincy family due to his Refusal of the Call. Ryuuken actively encourages his son to believe this. Uryuu even walked out on his father in disgust and now refuses to live with him, preferring to honour his grandfather's memory instead. Ryuuken is in fact an extremely powerful Quincy master who is withholding his power for mysterious reasons. Souken does once imply that Ryuuken's "rebellious" behaviour is due to a Declaration of Protection but Uryuu isn't willing to listen. The final arc reveals that Uryuu's life has been in grave danger since he was eight years old, when his mother and Ichigo's mother were murdered in an attack that should also have killed him. His continued survival and Ryuuken's avoidance of all things Quincy appear to be connected.
  • Cross Ange: Julio of the royal Misurugi family can be considered this, as he not only hates Norma, but wishes to have them all killed, including his sister Ange who he exposes as one, a secret protected from everyone (including Ange herself) by their parents who loved her, and to that effect, has them both killed, takes the throne, and has Ange expelled to Arzenal in hopes of having her killed off, before attempting to kill her along with the rest of the Norma himself. He also turns their younger sister Sylvia, who idolized Ange, against her.
  • The lead from Kaze no Stigma was cast away from his clan for not being able to control fire. He chose to control wind instead. Then they want him to marry back into the family, which both irritates and amuses him greatly.
  • Kouhei from Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase is the only magic-less Muggle in an entire family of mages. Fortunately, that also means he's immune to all sorts of magic.
  • Inukami!: Keita for failing to attract an Inukami during his clan's coming of age ceremony. Later revealed to be because Yohko, his Magical Girlfriend sorta kinda, scared all the others away so even though as a Kitsune she could form a pact with him when he would be desperate enough to accept. Why? Because You Were Nice to Me. When Keita was younger he gave her some chocolate cake. Since she was forced to live on a mountain with Inukami for a long time (aka supernatural dogs/wolves and as a Kitsune she is terrified of them) and lived liked this until she formed the pact with him.
  • Fist of the North Star's Jagi is so unlike the other three disciples of Hokuto Shinken, despite being the closest relation-wise to their master (according to the Jagi Gaiden manga, adopted son), that he is not considered among the "three Hokuto brothers." Justified in the sense that he never truly mastered Hokuto Shinken, and in fact spent several years running around doing other things instead of spending time training.
  • Naruto:
    • Itachi Uchiha is the Black Sheep of the Uchiha clan, being the only one in his family who does not believe that being an Uchiha makes one superior, and eventually massacres all but one member of the clan. That last part is because he was the only Uchiha who opposed a planned hostile takeover of Konoha.
    • Later we find out that his best friend and fellow clansman Shisui also opposed the coup.
    • And then there's Obito, a Kakashi's dead teammate. He's the only Uchiha ninja shown to not have been an antisocial loner, or an exceptional ninja, which makes the reveal in chapter 599 all the more shocking.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Goku became this due to massive head trauma that seemed to have rewired his Saiyajin brain. While he retains his people's love of combat (to a degree), senseless violence or revenge killing isn't his style. He can also be seen as the White Sheep.
    • Great Devil King Piccolo and his reincarnation are the only known evil Namekians (not counting the non-canon movie villain Lord Slug). The reason is that the original Nameless Namekian was corrupted by the evilness of Earthlings (similar happened to Lord Slug), resulting that he split himself into a good side and evil side. Namekians in nature are not evil and are peaceful, even the Warrior class Namekians.
  • Maya is actually revealed to be a black sheep (albeit one still loved by her family) in episode 4 of Burn Up Excess. She's a Tokyo cop while her family runs a criminal syndicate in Osaka. She's not a White Sheep because she doesn't hold it against them nor they hold it against her.
  • Wabisuke is the Jinnouchi's prodigal son in Summer Wars.
  • In Fruits Basket, Kyoko Honda is disowned by her own parents and frowned upon by most of her husband's family, mainly because of her sketchy past. They treat her daughter Tohru much the same, even though she's not the least bit rebellious.
  • Aero from 12 Beast gets quite the unfortunate reputation thanks to her black wings. note 
  • Fairy Tail: The titular guild has Laxus, who after his attempted coup becomes somewhat sane again... but is kicked out by Makarov and wanders the earth. He still shows up to grudgingly help them when they need him. He gets it from his dad who went evil and started a dark guild intent on destroying Fairy Tail.
    • Gajeel, though this is partly intentional on his and Makarov's part as he is a Reverse Mole. He still doesn't fit in with the others after that duty is fulfilled though...
    • Intially Natsu is portrayed as this because although the whole guild tends to cause huge amounts of collateral damage Natsu is by far the worst and the most reckless.
  • Yuru-Yuri: Ohmuro Sakurako is this compared to her sisters Nadeshiko and Hanako. The latter two are well-mannered and studious while Sakurako is lazy, immature and struggles with school, relying primarily on her best friend Himawari to help her.

    Comic Books 
  • Albrecht Strong of Tom Strong, who was conceived by his mother's rape of an unconscious Tom. He was raised to be a cruel Nazi and represents the Aryan ideal. Just don't call him a "black sheep"; he would die before anyone lumped him in with that "schwarze" family of Tom's. He calls himself the family's "white sheep" instead.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Casey Jones' cousin Sid is considered the black sheep of the Jones family. A petty criminal, his first appearance shows him threatening at Casey at gunpoint in order to steal money supposedly hidden in his grandmother's house. Later on, he becomes a member of the Foot Clan. It does not end well for him.
  • Among the Batfamily, three characters fit this trope at one point or another of canon:
    • Huntress was considered "too extreme" by Batman due to her willingness to use deadly force, and at various points they fought. Eventually they learned to get along passably well. Her efforts to infiltrate the Gotham Mafia and destroy it from within eventually even earned his approval.
      Oracle: And what about the least favorite daughter?
    • Stephanie Brown was, at best, a tolerated teen crime-fighter as Spoiler, but she was never accepted or welcomed into the group. Batman alternated between ignoring her and actively ordering her to quit (and, on two occasions, training her, including once as Robin) until she eventually assumed the mantle of Batgirl and earned the respect of everybody who previously dismissed her.
    • Jason Todd, since he came Back from the Dead and went on his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, has killed criminals and occasionally opposed the rest of the family, but has sometimes come out to help of his own initiative.
    • Most of the Wayne family are decent, but Dr. Hurt aka Thomas Wayne (an ancestor who shares the same name as Bruce's father) was a crazy evil jerk. Bonding to one of Darkseid's superweapons didn't help.
    • Damian Wayne also has these issues, as he's been trained as an assassin during his whole pre-Gotham life, his mother has now disowned him for siding with his dad's point of view, and he didn't even know how to really play until Stephanie dragged him to a moonbounce. Did we mention he's ten? He proved himself to Dick fairly quickly and is in the process of getting his father's acceptance; but Tim still can't forget that this kid tried to kill him once. It's a mixed bag.
    • Jean-Paul Valley was kinda-sorta accepted as a part of the Bat-family after he and Batman teamed up to take down a crazed weapons dealer and actively trained him to get him away from the hold of the System. However, things fell apart when he took over as Batman, as he was doused with Fear Gas by the Scarecrow, leading to the System taking over, went crazy and ended up having a villain killed. Batman considered him a mistake and would really not want to deal with him.
    • The Gordons have their own, James Gordon Jr. His father is the police commissioner, and his sister is a superhero, but James Jr. kills people for fun. He also tried to kill his mother and Barbara before he was caught by Batman and his father.
  • The Prodigal, AKA Destruction of the Endless.
    • Unusually, he's probably the only member of the family that everyone else likes—he's also one of the most affable, rational and well adjusted of them.
    • Not counting Death, of course. In fact, it's one of the great, unspoken ironies of the series that the most relateable and most empathetic members of the Endless (at least, maybe until Daniel replaces Morpheus as Dream of the Endless)are Death and Destruction.
  • Parodied by Walden Woods in Dork Tower: his parents are perfectly fine with his homosexuality — it's his Goth LARP gaming hobby that disturbs them.
  • Captain America's sometime-flame Diamondback has a brother, Cutthroat. Where Diamondback was once a ruthless criminal, her brother remains one, without shame or conscience. She still cares for him, in spite of Cap's belief that a brother who abandons his family (as Cutthroat has done several times) will always choose the easy way out.
  • Larfleeze from Green Lantern was born ugly, and his parents couldn't sell him off because they can't legally sell more than six children in their family. Worse, he had been abused by his siblings since he was 10 months old. And this is all before his adult life, in which he ended up in slavery when the Lakadakians invaded his home planet. Keep in mind that Larfleeze likes to spice up his backstory.
  • Karn of the Spider-Man group the Inheritors. The youngest member of a family of energy vampires who include the infamous Morlun, he hesitated in trying to kill the Master Weaver, getting his mother killed. So disgusted in his failure, his father Solus shoved an old-fashioned diving helmet on his head so he nor his family could see what he looked like. This drives him to try to kill as many Spiders as possible in an attempt to prove his worth once more. It doesn't help, though, this his siblings take great joy in trying to Kill Steal his targets.
  • One Dennis the Menace strip involve Walter apparently becoming a menace and picking on Dennis. In the end it turned out it was actually Walter's identical cousin, William, who unlike the rest of the family is a real menace.

    Fan Works 
  • The Black Sheep does exactly what it says on the tin. A successful hard-working career girl in Ankh-Morpork is not happy at the coming of her favorite uncle, who she knows to be a con-man, grifter and scrounger. He has also been expelled from their native country for serious criminal offences against the State.
  • Bait and Switch: Captain Kanril Eleya gives the impression that she likes her family but doesn't really fit with them. Her parents are town maintenance workers in a small town and her younger sister's engaged to a vedek,note  whereas Eleya joined the Bajoran Militia and later Starfleet because of Small Town Boredom.
  • Swinging Pendulum: Amongst the cheerful and dark-haired Shiba, the pessimistic and bright-haired Ichigo tends to stick out. He also sucks at Kidou, which happens to be a clan specialty.
  • Gou in Metroid: Kamen Rider Generations, as some of his log entries states that when Chase was reformed, he began considering himself to be this, which drove a wedge between him and the rest of the Special Investigation Unit. Despite that his Face–Heel Turn in the TV series was in fact a charade.
  • A Man Of Iron: Antony Stark grates his cousin Ned's sensibilities by his arrogance, vanity and self-centredness. Tony knows it and gleefully goes out of his way to mock the "proper" Northern way, seeing it as stagnant and unlikable.
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, Misty was this to her older sisters and parents, who were more interested in acting, singing and dancing, while she wanted to follow the footsteps of her late grandmother, the original Cerulean Gym leader.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Dewey Cox in Walk Hard, after his brother died in that unfortunate machete fighting accident.
  • The movie Black Sheep (1996) has Chris Farley's character being a major pain to his politician brother because he's fat, loud, and other words, a Chris Farley character.
  • The Bollywood film Sooryavansham, in which Amitabh Bachchan was in a dual role has Heera as the odd one out of his family. While his two older brothers and older sisters are seen as high-achievers by their father, Thakur Bhanupratap Singh coldly regards his youngest son as an idiot who failed to live up the high expectations he set for his children. But despite being neglected by his family, Heera is very benevolent and obedient, and hopes to earn the respect of his father. His father finally acknowledges him as his son in the end.
  • Black Sheep (2007) has two brothers who were fifth-generation sheep farmers. The younger one was considered a "Golden Boy natural-born farmer" until a combination of his brother traumatizing him and his dad's death at the same time caused him to develop a sheep phobia and he fled to the city while older one took over the farm and developed mutant-were-sheep-zombies that are also related to them.. The title could refer to any of these.
  • Joshua in Little Odessa: due to him being a hitman for The Mafiya, he is banished from home by his father.
  • Parenthood: Larry is the Black Sheep of the Buckman family for his somewhat rebellious nature. He also has an African-American son from a one-night stand named Cool, but as a father, he's not the best parent out there.
  • Edmund Pevensie in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is regarded as the black sheep of the family — at least for the first half of the film.
  • Jason of the eponymous Mystery Team.
  • In Greedy, Daniel McTeague's father qualifies, having walked away from Uncle Joe (and his money) because he didn't want to get turned into a greedy sycophant like the rest of the family members did. He even points out this reason to Danny when he shows up to call him out on what he'd done to try to get into Uncle Joe's good graces.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • After learning of his true origins in Thor, Loki declares that Thor was never his brother and begins Slowly Slipping Into Evil. Initially he continues to refer to Odin and Frigga as his parents, but by The Avengers, he's renounced them as well. It's of interest to note that Loki, at least, seems to have always considered himself a black sheep, even if no one else in his family did. The revelation of his parentage was simply the final push he needed to fully embrace his role as an outsider.
    • Amusingly, when in The Avengers Loki comes to Earth with the intention of opening up a wormhole to bring an extraterrestrial army to Earth, Thor first demands that people speak respectfully of his brother... and then, when reminded of Loki's crimes, weakly replies that, "He's adopted."

  • Harry Potter:
    • Sirius and Andromeda from the Black family. The Black family actually tends to have a few of these in every generation, and they always get blasted off the family tree. Harry himself also starts the series as a Black Sheep — a wizard stuck with a Muggle family.
    • Ron's family is almost all wizards except for one of Molly's distant cousins, who is an accountant: "We don't talk about him much..."
    • The Weasleys also have Percy, a stuck-up, anal-retentive stick-in-the-mud introvert born into a family of humble, friendly, generous extroverts and who never fit in. For all his faults, Percy was mildly mocked by his brothers even prior to cutting off all ties from them. Eventually, he decides to distance himself from the other members of the Weasley clan for political favor. He eventually comes to his senses and reconciles with his family after the Ministry falls under Voldemort's control.
  • In And the Mountains Echoed, Markos is the only non-Afghani who gets his own chapter in the book.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Brynden Tully received his nickname (the Blackfish) by punning on this and the Tully family's sigil of a trout. However he seems a relatively decent person, just not getting on well with his brother, largely over the fact he never married. When his family is threatened, he immediately goes to help them.
    • Euron "Crow's Eye" is the black sheep (squid?) of the Greyjoy family. And in a family that believes in Rape, Pillage, and Burn is a way of life, that takes a fair amount of effort, at least none of the other Greyjoys engaged in kinslaying, Euron is suspected to have murdered his brother Balon so he could usurp rule of the Iron Islands. He later tells his his youngest brother Aeron he personally slew two of his half-brothers, and was responsible for Balon's death.
    • Jorah Mormont earned his Black Sheep status when he sold some poachers into slavery in an effort to finance his wife's entertainments. Rather than face his punishment (which would be either execution by his liege lord, or going to serve on the Wall with a bunch of other Black Sheep), he flees the country.
    • Inverted for Perwyn Frey, he is notably one of the very very very few decent members of House Frey, and was sent away before the Red Wedding. Same for his full brother Olyvar, and one of his half-nephews Alesander, who were also not present at the Red Wedding.
    • Jon Snow of the Stark family, as he is Ned Stark's illegitimate son among his five trueborn half-siblings and has a Missing Mom he wishes he knew. Though Jon is loved by his father Ned, trueborn siblings, and uncle, and he loves them, he is The Unfavorite to his father's wife, Catelyn, whose treatment contributes to his outsider feelings. Catelyn resents Jon because he is Ned's son by another woman who Ned refuses to identify and — due to Ned's fierce protectiveness of Jon — she fears Ned may have loved Jon's mother more than her. On the other hand, Jon is raised as one of them by Ned as Ned's son and mentored alongside his half-brother Robb (Ned's heir) who Jon shares a close relationship with — rather than being sent away or being completely unacknowledged as some illegitimate children in Westeros are.
      • Arya Stark — Jon's youngest sister and who Jon is very close to — is also this in their family due to her rebellious nature and desire to pursue unladylike pursuits not exactly befitting a highborn lady. Her other siblings generally excel in their expected roles: Robb is set to be Lord of Winterfell, Sansa is a Proper Lady, Bran wants to be Knight, Rickon is the baby and even Jon, though he cannot inherit as he is an illegitimate son, is mentored closely together with Robb by their father. Meanwhile, Arya has difficulty finding an outlet: she has "wolf blood" in her, prefers to go out befriending lowborns rather than stay inside minding her courtesies and excels at masculine skills like sword-fighting, riding and archery rather than ladylike arts. Catelyn even admits that Arya is "a trial" and, along with the Stark family features she shares with Jon, it's one of the reason she's closest to fellow misfit Jon.
    Jon: "Skinny little thing that she was, all scraped knees and tangled hair and torn clothes, so fierce and willful. Arya never seemed to fit, no more than he had."
    • The So-Called Coward Samwell Tarly was sent to the Wall by his father because he liked reading more than fighting, and is one of the nicest characters, his father wanting their second son Dickon to become his heir. The Tarlys have a reputation as fierce warriors, especially Randyll Tarly, while Sam is a peaceful and kind person.
  • Ida, main character of Shaman of the Undead was disliked by her parents because she lacks their powerful magical gift and she doesn't want to participate in life they pre-planned for her. note  After she runs off and activates her Psychopomp gift, they're never heard from again — either they understood that she's different, or they don't want to have anything to do with her.
  • A Bible parable of Jesus presents the prodigal son this way until his return to his father.
  • A Dr. Ecco puzzle features three heirs to a fortune, Alice, Brad, and Carla. Brad and Carla are stereotypical rich folk but Alice, the self proclaimed Black Sheep, wears a plastic earring and jeans. The reason she is the black sheep is because she doesn't fit in with her other two siblings.
  • A recent version of Alice in Wonderland (2010) has Tweedledee and Tweedledum claim that the Red King is the Black Sheep of the King of Hearts' family. Tweedledee: "Every family has one." Both: "We have two." The implication being that both Tweedles are perfectly aware that they're odd.
  • An inversion is found in Burton's Zoom Zoom Varoom Machine by Dorothy Haas. The entire family are eccentric inventors of one sort or another, except for Little Brother. He's the Black Sheep because he's the only normal one.
  • Spartan-II Gray Team from Halo: The Cole Protocol. After being abducted into the SPARTAN-II program, most of the Spartan-II candidates were able to quickly adjust to their new lives as soldiers; cooperation, teamwork, and camaraderie were easily integrated into their minds, and within five months they were fully willing to take on their training. The only exceptions were the three Spartans who would become "Gray Team", who were the most difficult to control during training. These trainees were loners who tried constantly to escape, and resisted indoctrination in any way possible. As their escape attempts became increasingly costly, with numerous trainers suffering broken fingers and shattered knee caps and at least one Pelican dropship hijacked and destroyed, the three Spartans were eventually formed into their own team, trained separately from the rest. As such, Gray Team's members are the most independent and individualistic of the Spartan-IIs, trained to operate for long periods with little control or assistance.
  • Temuge in the Conqueror books. While his brothers are all badass warriors, poor Temuge is a rather soft chap who can barely hold a sword. He eventually makes up for it by becoming The Smart Guy.
  • In the Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong, Lucas Cortez is without a doubt the Black Sheep of the Cortez family. He's the illegitimate youngest son of the head of a Cabal (mafia corporation) who, despite his father's love and his father's making him his heir, has decided to forsake all the money and prestige his father has in favor of being a lawyer for those that would go against any of the Cabals. His half brothers have attempted to assassinate him multiple times for his inheritance.
  • In the Disgaea Novels, Flonne's sister, Ozonne believes in the power of money and rejects the concept of love.
  • A common thread in the Heralds of Valdemar series. Talia Sensdaughter, Lavan Firestorm, Vanyel Ashkevron, Darian Firkin, to list a few. Many of the main and minor characters are regarded as black sheep at some point in their tales.
  • Nancy and Peggy's Cool Uncle Jim Walker, aka "Captain Flint", in the Swallows and Amazons series. Note that while Nancy describes him as "the black sheep of the family", he's actually quite close to his sister and her daughters.
  • Jeeves and Wooster: As the one Nice Guy in a Big, Screwed-Up Family, Bertie Wooster doesn't get along well with his relatives. His Aunt Agatha spends a great deal of time unsuccessfully trying to turn him into a credit to the family.
  • In Jane Austen's Love and Freindship, Edward.
    "Augusta (replied the noble Youth) I thought you had a better opinion of me, than to imagine I would so abjectly degrade myself as to consider my Father's Concurrence in any of my Affairs, either of Consequence or concern to me. Tell me, Augusta, tell me with sincerity; did you ever know me consult his inclinations, or follow his Advice in the least trifling Particular, since the age of fifteen?"
    "Edward (replied she) you are surely too diffident in your own praise. Since you were fifteen only! My Dear Brother, since you were five years old, I entirely acquit you of ever having willingly contributed to the Satisfaction of your Father. But still, I am not without apprehensions of your being shortly obliged to degrade yourself in your own eyes by seeking a Support for your Wife in the Generosity of Sir Edward."
  • Pride and Prejudice: Kitty and Lydia both live this trope in their rebellious behavior as noted by their father. Once Kitty grows out of her deplorable behavior, Lydia remains as the sole black sheep pushed Up to 11.
  • Prince Almorante in The Chronicles of Magravandias, who is the only dark-haired Malagash in generations. In adulthood, he pulls away from his family, becomes interested in the mystic arts, and dresses — as his mother describes — like "a brigand lord" rather than a prince. He would probably be the best candidate to succeed his father, but he just doesn't have a talent for inspiring strong feelings in people like Bayard or the legitimacy of position that Gastern has.
  • The Poison Apples: Molly Miller would be this in her family. Once her father remarries after his divorce, her little sister gets close to their stepmother and their relationship suffers as a result.
  • Isabel Spellman of The Spellman Files. A former juvenile delinquent with a fondness for rearranging her neighbor's yard decorations, even in her thirties she's still drinking heavily, employed by her parents, prone to tunnel vision when it comes to her private investigator job, and not infrequently homeless. And climbing through windows.
  • Paul Moses in The Power Broker.
  • In "The Silmarillion" from the House of Fingolfin, Maeglin. His grandfather Fingolfin and Uncles Fingon and Turgon are heroic figures who are all High King of the Noldor. In turn, Turgon's daughter Idril is a decent Princess Classic and her husband Tuor is a great hero, while his mother Aredhel was decent if quite adventurous. Maeglin is a treacherous figure who desires Idril, and is the first Elf with such a desire. He betrays Turgon's city of Gondolin to Morgoth leading to Turgon's death. He also tries to 'take' Idril and murder her seven-year old son Earendil, at which her husband Tuor throws Maeglin from the walls of Gondolin. This villainous nature may be due to Maeglin's father Eol, the sinister Dark Elf, who basically kidnapped Aredhel, kept Maeglin in the forest for the first 80 years of his life, and accidentally killed Maeglin's mother while trying to kill Maeglin, at which Turgon had him executed. This treachery and serving Morgoth marks Maeglin out as someone considered the wickedest Elf, worse then his relatives from the House of Feanor (Fingolfin's older half-brother), as at least they served their House and fought against the Dark Lord.
  • Georgette Heyer's book Black Sheep has as its hero Miles Calverleigh, who was packed off to India after he tried to elope with an heiress. Upon returning to England twenty years later, he acknowledges that wasn't a good idea, but still doesn't worry about conforming to the rules of propriety.
    Miles: What [my father] worshipped was good ton. I wasn't good ton at all...
  • In the Malazan Book of the Fallen, Hitman with a Heart Rallick Nom stems from the Darujhistan House of Nom, a respectable family with far flung connections. Why he became an assassin is never explained, but his friend Kruppe calls him a sheep 'the very black of nadir, the Abyss' and thus even worse than his wayward cousin Torvald Nom.
  • "Ordeal of Innocence" by Agatha Christie has Jack Argyle, one of Rachel Argyle's 5 adopted children, who has always been considered a "bad seed" with criminal tendencies. When he was convicted for Rachel's murder, the rest of the family were more than happy to accept that he is guilty.
  • Warrior Cats: Cloudtail, Firestar's nephew and Brindleface's adopted son, doesn't quite fit into ThunderClan. From day 1 he was looked down upon for being born a kittypet. When he grew older, he became known for his bratty personality and disrespect for the Warrior Code. He's one of the few characters to not believe in StarClan as well. Ironically, Cloudtail is white furred. His pelt colour is another reason why he's looked down upon though. Most ThunderClan cats are "foresty" colours like grey, orange, or tortoiseshell, with pure-white being very rare.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones:
    • House Baratheon is primarily known as a family of warriors and Lord Renly is viewed as something of an embarrassment because he is often criticized by his older brothers for being a non-fighter. King Robert is especially disparaging of his youngest sibling's masculinity, calling him a "boy" during their hunting trip because he doesn't consider Renly to be a "real man."
    • The uncontrollable teenage sociopath Joffrey would ordinarily take on the role in contrast to his sweet-natured and well-behaved siblings Tommen and Myrcella, but is never treated like this due to being his mother's decided favourite and because he had too much power for anybody (except perhaps his grandfather Tywin Lannister) to challenge directly. Since he was seen as too weak to hold power, meek, good-hearted Tommen was liked by the adult adult Lannisters but also treated as a bit of a black sheep.
    • The show is very clever in how it plays with this trope in relation to Tommen. In the earlier seasons, Cersei and her father's preference for a brutal psychopathic maniac (Joffrey) over a kind and sweetly eccentric little boy (who loved to spend his time playing alone with his cats) was used to make the Lannisters seem even more ruthless and unhinged. Then, Tommen comes to power, and it's clear he actually is much too weak and in no way psychologically equipped to make the harsh decisions required of a king and his reign ends up being at least as disastrous as his older brother's.
    • The middle brother Stannis Baratheon fits this trope because, while he is certainly a great warrior like his family members, his family (especially his brothers) is mostly comprised of extroverted, charismatic leaders with the ability to inspire Undying Loyalty in almost anyone. Stannis, on the other hand, stands out as being an introverted, sullen stoic who is mistrusted and disliked by nearly everyone except a bunch of religious extremists who see him as their new messiah and one very loyal smuggler. He is very bitter about this.
    • Tyrion for being a dwarf. His brother Jaime loves Tyrion and Tyrion loves him but their father resents Tyrion for being a dwarf and both their father and sister resent Tyrion because Tyrion's mother died giving birth to him.
    • Jon, to a lesser degree, for being Ned Stark's illegitimate son raised alongside his trueborn siblings in the Stark family — though he takes after his lord father quite a bit and loves and is loved by his father, trueborn siblings, and uncle (but he is Catelyn's Unfavorite for being Ned's illegitimate son).
      • The position of black sheep rotated around the Stark family a lot. Robb, Sansa and Bran were the definite white sheep, but there was also Arya, who totally refused to adopt traditional female behavioural norms and was prone to asserting her own beliefs and opinions, and foster brother/hostage Theon who never challenged Ned's authority or misbehaved while Ned was looking (most likely because he was too scared to confront Ned directly) but was by far the most destructive, reckless and poorly-behaved when Ned wasn't looking. He also doesn't seem to particularly well-liked among his foster siblings and did and said things which would be completely acceptable in his birth culture (for example, boasting about hypothetical rape and murder) but were totally unacceptable and creepy in the culture of the North. Rickon is too young to be an official black sheep, but is characterised as being wild and prone to violence in both the television series and books, so he would have likely taken up this position had his family unit survived long enough.
    • Theon is also this among his birth family, the Greyjoys, as he was raised in a different culture (specifically, under the roof of a hated man who executed/murdered his much more preferred older brothers ), though his sister loves him. Interestingly, given that Theon is the only member of his Viking clan who (as an adult, at least) has any real problem with rape and pillage-related murder, he's simultaneously the black sheep and the white sheep.
    • Sam for being the fat, timid, and bookish son of a great warrior. Leads to some pretty horrific child abuse, as his father gives him the option of either being murdered or "voluntarily" joining an extremely deadly military order he would have seemed woefully unequipped to survive.
    • The Blackfish gets his nickname after being called the black sheep of a family, whose House sigil is a fish.
  • Louis Stevens from Even Stevens. There's even an episode dedicated on how the Stevens would live if they didn't have Louis in their lives.
  • Garthe Knight of the Knight Rider series, who's morality (or more accurately, his complete lack of morality) is at odds with that of the his father, Wilton Knight.
  • Joxer from Xena: Warrior Princess claims to have been the black sheep of his family. Specifically, his father is a warlord, his mother is a warlord's wife, and his brother is an assassin of renown. He can't compare. Oddly, there's a third brother. Neither brother likes to talk about him. Maybe he's the true black sheep?
  • Nate started out as this at the beginning of Six Feet Under and his character arc revolved around learning to balance duty to his family with his desire for continuing independence and freedom of expression. Common to this trope, dutiful Son David feels angry about their recently deceased father's perceived favouritism of Nate.
  • Stargate Atlantis: Sheppard is revealed to be one in "Outcast" when his wealthy father dies and he comes home for the funeral.
  • In The Munsters, Marylyn is the only family member to look like a normal person. Especially since she's the only one to have blond hair while the rest of her family has black hair.
  • A 1998 issue of Soap Opera Digest had a feature which discussed each show's creepiest family. A black sheep of each family was mentioned-in this case the member that was a relatively good and normal person compared to the rest of his/her family. The entry on As The World Turns had this (intentionally or not) funny line: "Paul is the only Stenbeck who hasn't, at one time or another, gone crazy and terrorized half the town. Not coincidentally, he's also the only one who's never 'died'"
  • The Palace featured the interesting case of Prince David, the late king's estranged brother. Unfortunately, the program was cancelled after one short series and the character never got to appear onscreen. Apparently he got divorced at some point, then lost his whole estate after his business went bankrupt, a situation precipitated by drug and alcohol problems. There's also a Cryptic Background Reference to "a silly joke at King James's expense" that "incur[red] the wrath of the monarch." (Coincidentally, David's nephew, Prince George, remarks that he saw him once and that he was "like a ghost.")
  • In Monk, Natalie is one to her family, the founders of the brand name Davenport Toothpaste. This is clearly seen in "Mr. Monk Goes to a Wedding" where she is on very bad terms with her mother Peggy and father Bobby (even though they dote heavily on Julie). Peggy doesn't even know that Natalie is not a bartender anymore when she tries to have Natalie test a Bloody Mary to see what is wrong (ultimately Randy has to do this role). Peggy also refuses to display Mitch's photos on the piano at home. Also, she doesn't want to believe Monk and Natalie when they try to warn her that her new daughter-in-law Theresa Scott is actually a Black Widow who tried to kill Randy and eventually tries to kill Jonathan, but is stopped in the nick of time. At the end, we see that photos of Natalie are back on the family piano at home, indicating that they've reconciled. In the next episode where Natalie's parents appear, "Mr. Monk Is At Your Service," Monk and Natalie are seen having a friendly lunch with them, which seems to indicate that they are back on good terms.
    • Natalie even uses the trope name to describe herself during a monologue in the novel Mr. Monk in Outer Space as she and Monk are on their way to question Brandon Lorber's widow Veronica in the following paragraph:
    Stottlemeyer and Disher, being poorly paid civil servants, would have been uneasy around so much money and power, which is probably why they opted to let us see Veronica Lorber on our own. I think the captain believed that a black-sheep rich girl and a socially clueless detective would be more effective with the widow Lorber than they would be. Money and influence are kryptonite for people whose livelihoods depend on the whims of politicians.
  • In Supernatural, Sam Winchester. He never fit in with his family because of the hunters life. Sam desired normal while John and Dean were hunters at heart.
  • On The Vampire Diaries, Damon Salvatore. He was rebellious and didn't believe in duty and responsibility the way his father and his brother Stefan did.
    • Klaus is an even more extreme example. He was The Unfavorite to his father Mikael, even before Mikael learned that Klaus was not his biological son. While it's implied that Klaus was always impulsive and difficult, flashbacks show that Mikael punished his son's misdeeds far more cruelly than was necessary.
  • In Doctor Who, the reveal of an unknown incarnation of the Doctor is this for violating the principles the Doctor has carried throughout all of his lives, save this offender, who he has disowned, deliberately forgotten and stated as the one who "broke the promise" that comes with calling himself "the Doctor", not even allowed to adopt his alias because the actions he took in this life tarnished its creed—though to hear it from this Black Sheep, it wasn't without reason.. Subverted, when it turns out this Doctor actually helped save Gallifrey, and his future incarnations realise he wasn't actually as bad as they believed.
    • The Ninth Doctor counts. Whereas all acknowledged incarnations of the Doctor up until that point have dressed like maniacs and been extremely quirky, the Ninth Doctor suffers from borderline-PTSD and starts out as an angry and bitter man, prone to violent outbursts and rages. He also has one of the shortest runs for any Doctor, with only one season.
  • Private Practice has Amelia Shepherd. At her introduction they call her the black sheep of her family despite being a terrific neurosurgeon. "Wow, Amy Sheppard did good, what kind of family is this that even the black sheep becomes a neurosurgeon?"
  • 7th Heaven: Mary Camden became one from the show's fifth season onwards. In a textbook definition of Characterization Marches On, Mary began as a straight-laced, kindhearted, responsible basketball player on the road to stardom before becoming a fickle, unreliable, irresponsible young woman who ultimately alienated her strictly Christian family because of her sudden personality. She was eventually Put on a Bus twice because of her behavior. However, her not being sure of her future at age 18, not holding a job (again at 18), and her smoking and drinking (which she did only once and twice, respectively) kind of makes her Unintentionally Sympathetic.
  • In Dallas and its Spin-Off Knots Landing, Gary is the Black Sheep of the Ewing family.

  • The John Anderson song "Black Sheep" is about a guy who comes from a rich family who is considered an embarrassment to his family because he preferred to drive a truck for a living, instead of pursuing a more lucrative career.
  • The Austin Lounge Lizards song Gingrich the Newt describes how newts in general are animal paragons of virtue, but Newt Gingrich (the politician) is "the one rotten fruit on the newt family tree".

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 of the Emperor's 20 sons (well, 18- two of them are listed as unknown), 9 of them turned to Chaos for one reason or another. Usually very good ones.
  • Battletech: At least one member of each of the great houses has one or two of these. For House Davion and Steiner it was Katrina who started the Fedcomm civil war. In House Marik there was (the real) Thomas Marik, who was the leader of the Word of Blake.

  • In Electra, many of the characters view Electra as this, but in reality she is far more like her mother than she'd admit. Chrysothemis is the real Black Sheep (or properly, White Sheep) of the family.
  • The basis for Albus Potter and Scorpius's friendship in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: both are the gossiped-about children of famous fathers, both feel determined to break free of the past's legacy, and both have a well-intentioned troublemaking streak. Additionally, unlike the other members of both sides of his family, who were all sorted into Gryffindor, Albus is a Slytherin.
  • Prince Hal in William Shakespeare's Henry IV spends his time boozing and committing petty crime, but sobers up and becomes worthy of the crown in the course of the play. Unless it was an act the entire time.

  • Ambrose from Clive Barker's Undying was the hellion of the Covenant family, getting into constant fights, stealing, running off to join pirates, murdering his own father with a pool cue and then leaping to his death to avoid arrest.
  • Kairu from Black Sigil is the adopted son of the duke, but disliked by virtually the entire duchy except his adopted sister and father. Despite presumably being the heir, Kairu gets subjected to a lot of bullying.
    • Leaps in Fantastic Racism as well. The reason everyone struggles to tolerate his presence? He's an Un-Sorcerer in a whole kingdom of magic users. And they happen to have a cautionary legend about someone who borns with no magic will be destined to destroy said kingdom and everyone on it. So they're more or less indignant that the one they're supposed to slay in order to stay alive also happens to be royalty, which they can't legally do anything about without either being executed or incarcerated for life.
  • According to his backstory, as a child, Edward Sallow never quite fit into the humanitarian organization Followers of the Apocalypse due to his own petulance and narcissism. He later grows up to lead a Roman-inspired Legion dedicated to the subjugation and enslavement of the known world.
  • Donkey Kong Country
    • In the first Donkey Kong Country, a minor enemy are evil orangutangs called "Manky Kongs", which All There in the Manual reveals are an evil branch of the Kong clan who were cast out for their wicked ways.
    • It's possibly that the character Lanky Kong, a friendly orangutang, from Donkey Kong 64 is a Manky Kong White Sheep, though it's never been officially confirmed.
  • In Assassin's Creed III, Haytham Kenway is one of the few Templars in a long line of Assassins. Not only that, he was a Templar Grand Master who never strayed from his cause unlike Maria Thorpe, who defected and married Altair.
    • Despite being raised in an Assassin compound Desmond Miles, one of Altair's modern day descendants, didn't believe their stories and thought his parents were crazy conspiracy theorists. He ran away around the age of sixteen and was living a mundane life before being abducted by Abstergo and discovered everything he was told was real.
  • In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and its sequel Radiant Dawn, Reyson is the anomaly of the heron tribe of laguz. Herons, including Reyson's siblings Rafiel and Leanne, are quiet, gentle, and retiring. Reyson, on the other hand, is a demanding, somewhat impatient Jerk with a Heart of Gold who refuses to stand quietly by. At one point he straight-up punches a human man holding him hostage in the nose, despite the fact that herons are frail non-combatants. Justified in-universe, as Reyson was taken in by the rough-and-tumble Hawk laguz tribe after Serenes Forest was destroyed and was highly influenced by its leader, the Blood Knight Tibarn.

  • Boudica from The Adventures of Wiglaf and Mordred is the only member of her family who isn't evil. In fact, while the rest of her family plots to take over the world, she is a concert pianist.
  • Ethan from Ctrl+Alt+Del is a twenty-something Manchild who clearly has some sort of disorder and is obsessed with video games to the point of physical addiction and who owns his own game store; his brother is a former football player turned bar owner. Guess whom his family prefers.
    • Though later it turns out his brother got himself in trouble with the Hawaiian mafia and needed Ethan (who was getting married) to bail him out. He saved his brother's life but refused to implicate himself and ruin his wedding day to help with his brother's own failings. His parents then become angry with Ethan for not helping their favourite son.
  • In Sinfest, Satan, according to Jesus.
  • In Squid Row, Grace.
  • Slightly Damned
    • Iratu is one to his adopted family. Their father Darius is a kindhearted angel (both figuratively and literally) who took in the three orphaned demons, Buwaro is somewhat naive but is also caring and compassionate, their sister Sakido has done some bad things (most notably maiming then abandoning Buwaro when he was just a toddler) but wants to repent for it and eventually dies in a Heroic Sacrifice getting Buwaro and Rhea out of hell. Iratu on the other hand became a General for hell and now intends to conquer the mortal world, he still loves Darius and Sakido but hates Buwaro and even blames their deaths on him.
    • Kieri comes from a clan of warrior angels but is kind and quiet (unlike most warrior angels we've seen) but would rather not fight.

    Web Originals 
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, the demon lord Omaroch and the merchant Jeremiah both end up being the black sheeps of their respective families because they are more virtuous than their scheming family members.
  • Jonas from lonelygirl15 was rejected by his family. Tragically, his parents used to be Resistance just like him, before they had their memories erased and were brainwashed by the Order. They now want nothing to do with him.
  • In Nodwick side story "Q4orce", Spawn of Santa has a style... rather different from his dad's.
  • We Are Our Avatars: Yanmie doesn't get along well with the rest of her family because she doesn't like to eat sentient beings.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Iroh is a bit of a Black Sheep because he doesn't seem to care about the throne and ceases to actively serve as a general in the war. Zuko is The Unfavorite, but not much of a Black Sheep, at least not until he specifically rejected his father.
  • In The Legend of Korra, Bataar, Jr. leaves with his girlfriend Kuvira to go bring balance to the Earth Kingdom, becoming The Dragon to her, against his mother Su's wishes. The rest of the family is enraged at Bataar leaving and his siblings come to despise him, especially when he gleefully helps take their home by force. In the Grand Finale, Su tries one last time to reach out to her son and ask him to come home, and Bataar spits back that Kuvira is his family now. Bataar realizes that Kuvira loves the Earth Empire more than him, and shamefully apologizes to his mother after Kuvira tried to kill him and the others. While Su immediately accepts her son's apology, they both note that the rest of the family will take some time to reconcile with Bataar after his betrayal.
    • Aang and Katara's oldest son, Bumi, a non-bender prior to getting airbending abilities from Harmonic Convergence born into a family of Water and Airbenders. His father, Aang, clearly favored their youngest, Tenzin (granted, he did so because Tenzin would become the last airbender once he died, and he wanted to pass along his knowledge of airbending and their culture before that happened), and Kya was favored by their mother, Katara, both waterbenders. This resulted in him joining the United Forces military, to try and get his father to be proud of him.
  • Cow and Chicken literally have a black sheep in the family. He's actually a nice guy, it's just people tend to assume the worst of him because he's a black sheep. That, and because he has an advanced vocabulary that the other characters write off as another demonstration of how horrible a person he is.
  • Jazz in Danny Phantom deliberately made herself a Black Sheep from her own family, unwilling to partake in their ghost hunting obsessions. She then got Character Development and now appreciates her family's lifestyle, equally joining the bandwagon at the same time. Sam even more so; her dark and dreary Gothic life doesn't quite match with her parents' cheery Stepford-like mannerisms, though we find that she may get this from her grandmother.
    • In Jazz's case, the change had something about learning ghosts are real.
  • Daria:
    • Helen's sister Amy, apparently the brainy misfit who deliberately withdrew from the family to avoid getting caught up in the constant sibling rivalry between her two sisters and left home as soon as possible. Unsurprisingly, she's Daria's favorite aunt and there's a strong resemblance between — both physically and in personality.
    • Jane also actually uses the term Black Sheep when talking about her particular branch of the Lane family to Daria when she and Trent have to attend a family reunion.
  • Sheldon J. Plankton in Spongebob Squarepants is an Evil Genius, while the rest of his family are country bumpkins easily bribed with root beer.
  • Kim Possible:
    • Shego, who walked out on her annoying heroic brothers to become a villain.
    • In another episode, Drakken mentions that his cousin, Motor Ed, is the Black Sheep of his family. Probably because Drakken himself has thus far managed to hide his own Mad Scientist tendencies from his family.
  • Heinz Doofenshmirtz from Phineas and Ferb could qualify as this. He's divorced, without a job, his mother favors his younger brother, his father thinks of his dog as his son rather than Heinz and his parents even disowned him. To make matters worse, it's not exactly easy to compete with his younger brother Roger since he's the Mayor of Danville and seen as perfection in human form.
  • In ThunderCats (2011) Rebel Prince Lion-O is a Cloudcuckoolander believer in Lost Technology in a royal family of Proud Warrior Race Guys who live in a magical kingdom stuck in Medieval Stasis. Though his interests eventually prove prescient, he's also genuinely irresponsible, shirking his duties as crown prince to the point of Culture Blindness, in favor of trawling his kingdom's Black Market and tinkering with Black Box acquistions. This heavily contributes to his status as The Unfavorite in his father's eyes, and infuriates his adoptive older brother Tygra, who knows that despite his own status as The Dutiful Son, he will never be eligible for the throne.
  • Beetlejuice: Beetlejuice, in the animated adaptation is shown to be this. His parents are hardworking, well-mannered neat freaks, and he has a brother (who appeared in only one episode) who is essentially perfect.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic:
    • Pinkie Pie proves to be the black sheep of her family. Her parents are basically the pony equivalent of the Amish, and none of her sisters are exactly fun-loving; Limestone is harsh and abrasive, Maud is an Emotionless Girl, and Marble is The Quiet One. Pinkie, on the other hand, is a Genki Girl who likes nothing more than to throw parties. It's even evident in their designs; the Pie family are all drab earth toned ponies with straight manes, while Pinkie is bright pink with Quirky Curls. She does get along with her family just fine, but she clearly doesn't share their passion for Rock Farming, having left the family farm to go work in a bakery as a live-in party planner.
    • Fluttershy's brother Zephyr Breeze is a contrast to the rest of the Shy family. Zeph is more extroverted, but also lazy, which was a cover for his lack of confidence in completing things by himself.
  • In Bojack Horseman, Hollywood writer Diane is the figurative black sheep in her working-class Boston family (or at least, this is how she is described in-universe, although she has both black sheep and white sheep tendencies). Her adopted brother Gary is the literal/taxonomical black sheep

  • Loki from Norse Mythology (and any other characterisation you can think of) pulls huge amounts of mischief in contrast to his much more upstanding family, and earns both his horrible fate and black sheep status.
  • Fairy tales are filled with the black sheep characters, who are outsiders within their family but whose misfit tendencies help them succeed later on.

    Real Life