Pichu's brother doesn't want him to get hurt. He's the smart brother.In media there's a tendency for siblings to be portrayed as opposites. Enter the Foolish Sibling and the Responsible Sibling. In this trope there will be one sibling who is foolish, usually acting melodramatically and prone to doing irresponsible and impulsive things. They may be louder, more outgoing and usually more popular (or at least try to be), and desiring attention, especially from the opposite sex. Usually they don't have outright bad intentions, they just don't understand that anything they do can have consequences for themselves or other people. Alternatively, they may just be a Horrible Judge of Character and get involved with the wrong people on a regular basis; they refuse to believe their "friends" could be anything but pure of heart, despite obvious evidence to the contrary. Their antics will be their undoing, getting them into trouble for which there is no one but themselves to blame. The Foolish Sibling may be a Bratty Teenage Daughter, Alpha Bitch, Fille Fatale, The Casanova, Manchild or The Ingenue. The other sibling is usually the elder of the two and will follow all the rules about how one is supposed to act and behave, being an exemplary version of a Proper Lady or The Dutiful Son. They're often more of a parental figure in the other sibling's life, even if their actual parents are still present. They might be quieter or plainer, though usually they are only quiet or plain by comparison to their obnoxious other sibling, and doesn't qualify as a Shrinking Violet or The Quiet One at all. They're almost undoubtedly smarter though, and may be portrayed as a Bookworm, or just very concerned about rules, social and moral. Generally the responsible sibling will try to steer their foolish sibling to the right path, taking it on themselves to look after the kid and make attempts to curb the other sibling's behavior. This seldom works, however, at least not until the end, when the foolish sibling gets their comeuppance or realizes the error of their ways. They may serve as a Betty and Veronica pair. The responsible sibling is the one who will submit to an Arranged Marriage, which may be a Perfectly Arranged Marriage and is generally happier than the foolish love match of the foolish sibling. A subtrope of Sibling Yin-Yang. Usually involves an Aesop about the right way to act, that is to say, be more like the responsible sibling and not the foolish sibling (although the responsible sibling may learn a lesson about "loosening up" and "having fun"). And while the responsible sibling is usually the elder of the two, the roles can be switched, with the younger sibling being the responsible one. Another possibility is a middle child being the responsible one to his or her older and younger siblings. Also compare Slobs vs. Snobs, Right Way/Wrong Way Pair, The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry and Cain and Abel.
— Narrator, describing the Pichu Brothers in the Pokémon short, "Pikachu and Pichu".
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Inverted in Aruosumente. It's flamboyant, chatty and seemingly carefree Lante who takes responsibility when the serious, quiet Dante acts on an impulse and goes off the hook, sometimes even attacking people at random.
- In Brave10, Yukimura is the foolish sibling to Nobuyuki's responsible one, as Nobuyuki is very orthodox and straightforward, while Yukimura is the lazy, playful chessmaster.
- Dragonball Z
- Goten is nice, but carefree and naive, while his older brother Gohan is intelligent and responsible. Justified by the age gap between them and Gohan's murderous childhood before Goten was born.
- Played with in Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, where Judau is usually seen skipping school and doing things with his friends while his younger sister Leina is bugging him to get an education. However, it's actually reversed: the things Judau is doing with his friends is hard work in the junkyard, and he skips school to keep up this job so that he can save enough money for Leina to get a good education. Leina tends to ignore this and focus on the present, while Judau's thinking long-term.
- Inuyasha plays with this. Kagome isn't flighty per se, but often forgets to bring her homework to class, only for Sota to pick up the slack. Then again, considering she's spending most of her time in the Feudal Era, she can hardly be blamed for losing focus on her supposed off days.
- The titular Inuyasha and Sesshomaru also exhibit this. While Inuyasha is brash, crude, and free of responsibilities, Sesshomaru is calculating and elegant.
- Yui and Ui from K-On! epitomize this trope. While Yui tends to be irresponsible at best, Ui cooks, cleans house, and even helps her older sister with her homework.
- Kirby: Right Back at Ya! has the responsible Fumu/Tiff and the foolish Bun/Tuff. Fumu/Tiff enjoys reading books and is quite intelligent, while Bun/Tuff is not too bright and tends to act before thinking.
- People expected the First and Second Hokage to be serious, loyal, responsible people. Only the younger fits this description on a normal day. His older brother instead thinks it's a good idea to teach a toddler how to gamble. Yes, the First was responsible for Tsunade's gambling addiction.
- It also counts as Hilarious in Hindsight, since Fanon usually depicts them in reverse positions. Hashirama was often depicted as the responsible one, and more compassionate than his younger brother, who was often depicted as a playboy who has a notable percentage of descendants everywhere. The only part that stuck in Canon was Hashirama being the more compassionate one.
- Sakon and Ukon fit, Ukon's favorite phrase even being "wise older brother, foolish younger brother." Ukon seemed to be the more pragmatic of the two, while Sakon was more sadistic in liking to drag things out.
- Kinkaku and Ginkaku, for what little panel time they had, may fit as well. They are half-siblings or fraternal twins. Kinkaku is bigger, and seems to be the more observant, and pragmatic, one in battle. He's also rather stoic in the manga. Ginkaku is the louder of the two, and more prone to smirking and losing his cool. He's the one that ends up being taken down first, and according to Kakuzu, it's not the first time, since Kinkaku is known to rage when it happens.
- No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular! has Tomoko and Tomoki. Tomoko is the older sister and tends to laze about and play games. Her younger brother Tomoki is more serious about his studying, calmer and even helps around the house without being asked, even making his own lunch for school. Lampshaded by their mother, who thinks Tomoko should be the responsible sibling because she's older.
- Yuuya and Yamato from Nukoduke qualifies despite not being siblings. Yuuya is a loafer who frequently runs away from his class chores and causes a lot of trouble for his school mates. Yamato is the student council Vice President who must constantly remind his friend to pull his act together. Other characters regard the two as brothers (as they grew up together) and generally considers Yamato as Yuuya's guardian.
- Played with in The Rising Of The Shield Hero. Naofumi was originally the Foolish elder brother due to his poor grades and otaku lifestyle, so his parents forced the younger brother to become the Responsible son. The stress of meeting their expectations drove him to adopt yankee culture, becoming the Foolish brother, only for Naofumi to play Responsible by helping him blow off the accumulated stress with galge games. Afterward the younger brother returned to being Responsible while Naofumi became Foolish.
- In Sailor Moon, the main character Usagi is ditzy, fun-loving and lazy, while her younger brother Shingo is much smarter and more responsible.
- Sorcerer Hunters has brothers Carrot and Marron. Carrot is a shameless skirt-chaser who tends to be lazy until the prospect of hooking up with an attractive women comes along, then he charges headlong into danger. His younger brother, Marron, is thoughtful and considerate, and takes his job as a hunter seriously.
- In comicbook Witchblade the main character Sara Pezzini is the responsible sibling to Julie Pezzini's foolish sibling, Sara is a Cop while Julie has got into trouble, and has even gone to jail for dealings drugs.
- Charles Soule's Daredevil has responsible Sam and foolish Hannah. Sam works bad hours doing a crappy job in order to support he two while Hannah goes out clubbing.
- Will's decision to skip school and go swimming, compared to Hope who winds up doing most of the chores in An Astral Drop In Heatherfield.
- Played with in Caelum Academy Of The Arcane With Arashi being the foolish to Inferuno's responsible. Unless Inferuno's pissed. Unfortunately, Inferuno is pissed almost all the time.
- Subverted with Virion (Responsible) and Jugger (Foolish) but they aren't really brothers.
- In The Fledgling Year, Corin is the straitlaced, responsible twin and Cor is the impulsive, insensitive one (tendencies which were hinted at in the original canon, and are explored and developed in much more depth in this fic).
- Played with Highly Questionable Decisions and Satsuki and her two younger sisters, Ryuuko and Nui. By the account of being older, Satsuki tends to more responsible and is the Only Sane Woman when it comes to dealing with the latter two, especially Ryuuko with Jerk Ass and reckless tendencies and Nui with her innocence. However, at times, she did demonstrate herself to be Not So Above It All (if Ragyo listing of dos and don'ts is a clue).
- We have this in Kill la Kill AU with Satsuki and her sisters, Ryuuko and Nui. Satsuki tends to be the more responsible one, often trying to steer her sisters in the right direction, regardless if they like her to or not, and it upsets her when they don't listen to her, while the latter two tends to do what they want, whenever they want to and sometimes it comes back to bite them.
- The Rose And The Crown has the Gerard siblings: dour, dutiful, upright and responsible Etienne and foolish, feckless, debt-ridden but charming and funny Lucien.
Films — Animated
- In Big Hero 6, Hiro is the Foolish sibling to Tadashi's Responsible. Hiro would rather spend his time bot-fighting since he graduated from high school early while Tadashi regularly attended college and wished Hiro would do something more productive with his intelligence. In the beginning of the film, Tadashi rescued Hiro when Yama and his goons were going to beat him up.
- The first part of The Prince of Egypt showed this dynamic, with Ramses as the responsible sibling and Moses the foolish one. Future Pharaoh Ramses is terrified of disappointing his father, while Moses tries to get him to lighten up.
Moses: You know what your problem is, Ramses? You care too much.
Ramses: (smiling) And your problem is, you don't care at all.
Films — Live-Action
- In Brother, this is more or less the dynamic between the Bagrov brothers. Danila is the responsible one, Viktor is the foolish one (despite Viktor being older).
- In Four Brothers, Jeremiah and Jack are far more responsible and rational than their more impulsive and hot-headed brothers, Bobby and Angel.
- A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints downplays it. Antonio may be a Jerkass but he's protective and the more functional responsible sibling. His younger brother Giuseppe is terrible with people and The Friend Nobody Likes because of it.
- Martha Marcy May Marlene suggests that this dynamic exists between Lucy and Marlene.
- In Sucker Punch it's not known if Sweet Pea and Rocket are related in real life - but they are sisters in Baby Doll's fantasy world. Sweet Pea is the forward thinking responsible older sibling, while Rocket is said to have been the foolish one who had trouble at home with their parents.
- Sunshine Cleaning - Rose is the hard-working, responsible older sister. Norah is the lazy, rebellious younger sister.
- Interestingly, prior to shit getting real in Thor, Loki and Thor were this. Loki- though younger- was the bookish, reasonable, responsible brother who was implied to regularly attempt to talk sense to a Thor who was childish, reckless, and volatile. However, it's Played With throughout the film. Thor's time on Midgard as a mortal mellows him out and he matures into a Wise Prince while Loki's insecurities lead him to attempt a plot that backfires horribly on him and begins his path on self-destruction and villainy.
- W. portrays George W. Bush as the foolish sibling to his more responsible younger brother Jeb. As a result, Bush falls under the impression that his parents favor Jeb over him and spends much of his adult life trying to gain his father's respect.
- X-Men: Apocalypse: Scott is the rebel of the Summers brothers, while Alex, being older, is the more responsible one.
- A Brother's Price has lucky, silly Odelia and the more conflicted, struggling-with-responsibility Ren. At some point they are noted to be suffering from the same old trauma inflicted by their now-dead husband Keifer, and each surviving sister has reacted in a different way, all of them somewhere along these lines.
- Agatha Christie:
- Betty and Megan Barnard in The ABC Murders.
- Lancelot and Percival Fortescue in A Pocket Full of Rye. In Lance's words: "I blew my pocket money, he saved his. I had disreputable but entertaining friends, Percy made what he called 'worthwhile contacts.'"
- After the Funeral gives us Richard Abernathie, a responsible businessman who raised his younger siblings, at least as compared to his brother Timothy (a self-absorbed hypochondriac) and his sister Cora (a 50-year-old Enfant Terrible). There were also four other siblings, but they were dead before the story started and aren't described enough to know how they fit into this trope.
- Deconstructed in A Song of Ice and Fire with Jaime and Cersei Lannister. Cersei actually resents being the responsible one, neglecting her needs for the good of the family. As she gets closer to the Iron Throne, she loses people who can counsel and guide her ( Jaime, Tyrion, Tywin, Kevan and even Pycelle) and her disregard for the needs of others eventually gets her dethroned. Jaime on the other hand, sticking too much to his family's credo of not caring what the "sheep" might say will get him in trouble.
- Older Than Dirt, The Bible: The stories of Cain and Abel and Jacob and Esau, in the Old Testament; Jesus relates the story of the Prodigal Son to illustrate the difficulties of forgiveness.
- The examples of Cain and Abel, and Jacob and Esau, are complicated in that in both cases, Esau and Cain are both presented as hard-working sons, if Hot-Blooded and not spiritually inclined. Cain and Abel work equally hard, but Abel's gifts happen to please God more, which makes Cain jealous. Jacob actually tricks his way into getting his father's inheritance (helped by his mother), but God blesses him and his line anyway. This might be a theme in the Bible — sometimes, God's grace just can't be accounted for by personal virtue.
- In the parable of the Prodigal Son, the younger son asks for his inheritance all at once, and promptly leaves home and has a rousing good time. It's only when he's destitute and ruined that he thinks to come home, and beg for work, if nothing else, on his father's land. His father welcomes him back with feasting and praise. However, the older, Responsible sibling is understandably upset — he's worked hard for years, and has never received this kind of recognition. The father says that the eldest son has always been beloved, and could always ask for anything; but now that the prodigal son has returned, he will be welcomed as if he were back from the dead.
- Martha and Mary from the Gospel of Luke; Jesus arrives at their home and Martha busies herself preparing everything for him while Mary sits at Jesus' feet and listens to his teaching. Marta asks Jesus to have Mary come help her, but Jesus calmly rebuffs her by saying that Martha is worrying over small things while Mary is eager to listen to the word of God, thus being the more responsible of the two.
- In the first part of Crown Duel, Branaric and Meliara alternate who is being foolish at any given time. By the second part, Meliara has settled into being the responsible sibling, leaving Bran to be foolish.
- Discworld example, in Witches Abroad we discover Granny Weatherwax wanted to be the irresponsible evil one, but because her elder sister, Lilly, beat her to the punch on that she felt forced to be the responsible good one. When both sisters are witches you can see how this complicates family relationships.
- In Dragon Bones, Erdrick is always worried about the consequences of the foolish things his brother Beckram tends to do. Erdrick himself is rather shy and likes reading.
- Prior to Character Development Seth was the foolish one to Kendra's responsible in Fablehaven.
- After they lost their parents six months before Galaxy of Fear, initially Tash and Zak were not this way. Tash withdrew from the world and didn't want to do anything. However, she saw that her brother was becoming a reckless, careless daredevil and felt she needed to be out there looking out for him. It's not to say that they always follow this trope, but Tash usually is the more thoughtful one. In The Brain Spiders Tash is so caught up in trying to be independent and an adult that she does foolish things, while her younger brother wants to be more careful; he's aware of this dynamics flip and complains about it.
- The whole entire concept of Goofus and Gallant is about two twin brothers, one who acts as the not-so-nice role model in a particular situaion, and one who acts in the correct way.
- In Guns of the Dawn, the Marshwic family has Mary and Emily, who tend towards the serious, and Alice, who is interested in balls and dresses despite the family not really having the money to support that kind of lifestyle any more. It's played with a bit, though, in that Alice's determination to lead a properly aristocratic social life is revealed to be partly motivated by her belief that a good marriage is the only way to alleviate the financial troubles that keep the others so glum. On the other hand, her good motivations don't make her any smarter, as proven when she runs away to meet someone who turns out to be a ransom-seeking outlaw.
- In Harry Potter everyone in the Wizard world thinks that Albus Dumbledore is the Responsible Sibling while his brother Aberforth — an illiterate(?) bartender who "practiced inappropriate charms on a goat" — is the Foolish Sibling. When we hear their tragic backstory in Deathly Hallows it turns out Albus was the insanely foolish sibling and Aberforth was the responsible one.
- In fairness, this one isn't so cut and dry — in fact, it may count as a Deconstruction. Albus, in his youth, was intensely aware of his genius and his great potential, and bitterly resented having to squander his gifts, as he saw it, by taking care of his brother and his mentally ill sister. Aberforth, who's more down to earth and every bit as stubborn as Albus, would have been happy to ditch his formal education and care for Ariana, but Albus put his foot down, meaning that Albus' sense of responsability was what compelled to be the caretaker to his sister so his brother could finish Hogwarts. In other words, the traits that made Albus such a force for good in the world as an adult did him and those around him great harm in his youth.
- Albus himself believes Aberforth was the better man, calling him "my rough, unlettered, and far more admirable brother."
- Kyle and Ian from The Host. Maggie and Jeb are a subversion in that Maggie comes across as rather level-headed while Jeb comes across as somewhat crazy yet Maggie is the foolish one as she lets pride and stubbornness rule out basic logic while Jeb is the responsible one who views things from all angles and is quick on his feet.
- Stanley and Thomas from Insupu - Stanley is the older, responsible brother, who borders on the Comically Serious. Thomas is the silly, Fun Personified younger brother, and the island's resident Plucky Comic Relief.
- Jane Austen:
- Despite her inability to successfully matchmake, Emma, as Mr. Knightley observes, is much more clever and level-headed than her ditzy, hypochondriac sister Isabella.
- Mansfield Park does it with brothers — the foolish Tom and the responsible Edmund Bertram; the heroine is in love with the latter.
- Charles Musgrove of Persuasion wanted to marry responsible Anne Elliot but had to settle for her foolish sister Mary.
- The younger sisters, headed by Lydia, of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice are the foolish sisters, while Jane and Elizabeth are the Responsible Sisters. Spoofing this trope is Mary Bennet, the middle sister, who thinks herself Responsible — she improves her mind with much reading and practices pianoforte — but lacks true wisdom or even compassion, making a fool of herself in the meantime.
- Sense and Sensibility, with responsible Elinor and foolish Marianne, is an even more straightforward example than Pride and Prejudice, albeit one where the "foolish" daughter is portrayed fairly sympathetically. It's even reflected in the title (when you realize that "sensibility" meant to Austen something like what "sensitivity" means in modern-day English).
- A cousin example with Bess Marvin and George Fayne of the Nancy Drew series.
- Zig-zagged with Isabelle and Vianne in The Nightingale (Kristin Hannah). It's obvious that Vianne sees it this way. Early on in the narrative, Isabelle is painted in an extremely impulsive and unsympathetic light. It comes to a boiling point when Isabelle hides an actively hunted Allied airman in a cellar under Vianne's barn. Vianne is spitting nails as she leaves Isabelle down there, threatening to report her to the Nazis herself if Isabelle ever comes near the house again. By the end of the book, Vianne is in awe of Isabelle's courage and strength as The Nightingale, and deeply ashamed of her earlier threats to her own sister.
- Plato discussed a version of the Greek myth of Prometheus ("forethought") in which his foolish, absent-minded brother Epimetheus ("afterthought") completely bolloxed everything when the two brothers were given the job of creating humans and animals. With humanity almost ruined by Epimetheus, Prometheus had to steal fire and give it to humans to prevent our extinction. From Hesiod comes the story that Epimetheus enthusiastically received Pandora from the gods, despite all of Prometheus's warnings that she would be a blight upon humanity. He was right, she was.
- This is the Ur-Example in Western Literature.
- Given an Alternate Character Interpretation in The Water Babies, which portrays Prometheus as an arrogant jerkass and points out that, in the end, Epimetheus had Pandora and (since it was left in the box) he had hope, while Prometheus was chained to a mountain with a vulture pecking out his liver.
- In Shades of Milk and Honey, Jane is the Elder and responsible sister, while Melody is the younger, foolish sister.
- In Sorcery & Cecelia, Georgina and Oliver are respectively Kate and Cecelia's foolish siblings.
- Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield of Sweet Valley High, respectively.
- Thirteenth Child has this with Lan and Eff, respectively.
- Thomas Mann's novel Buddenbrooks contains a deconstruction: Thomas is a responsible businessman and an important personage in the community, while his brother Christian is a wastrel who spends his money on drink, women and the theatre. Subverted in that Tom secretly finds his life empty and unfulfilling, while Christian is content with his life regardless of his diminished position in society (though not so much with Tom's treatment of him).
- Justified in Angel in the Whirlwind: the eldest child of a Commonwealth of Tyre noble is groomed as the heir and the next few are typically married off for political reasons, but younger children are essentially free to do whatever they like. One of Kat Falcone's older siblings became an irresponsible party girl and scandal magnet, but Kat joined the Navy instead.
- Sergeant Sinter and her sister Kisswhere in the Malazan Book of the Fallen. Kisswhere is all innocent beauty and wild seduction and lives on Favors for the Sexy and Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful!. She joined the army on a whim because she'd made too many enemies among the women of her tribe and figured she could just desert or sleep her way up should she get bored. Sinter on the other hand is the reliable and practical one with a case of Honor Before Reason as far as Kisswhere is concerned. She followed Kisswhere to the army so she could make sure her sister would not get herself into trouble. Her entire life consists of cleaning up after Kisswhere and she admits to chafing under that yoke.
- Charmed - out of the three Halliwells, eldest sister Prue is the Responsible sibling who had to become a surrogate mother to the others after theirs was killed. Phoebe the youngest is the Foolish - rebellious as a teenager and still quick to bend the rules as an adult. Poor Piper was stuck right in the middle.
- Game of Thrones: Brandon was much more reckless than Ned or Benjen, despite having been groomed to succeed his father, Lord Rickard. Indeed Baelish states that in the end, Ned was the more impressive specimen of the two.
- In Sister Sister Tia is Responsible and Tamera is Foolish.
- In the 80's sitcom Double Trouble, Alison is responsible while Kate is foolish.
- In The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Cody is Responsible and Zack is Foolish. Although uniquely for this trope, Cody is Not So Above It All many times and gets into plenty of antics with Zack. Often willingly.
- Joe (Responsible) & Brian Hackett (Foolish) on Wings. (Exacerbated in Joe's case by his having been Promoted To Parent when they were kids.) Helen (Responsible) and Casey (Foolish) also qualify.
- Arrested Development's family tree is a bit too large to fit nicely into this trope, but GOB and Michael qualify, at least to outward appearance. George Sr. comments on it at one point:
"[Michael] and GOB were like those biblical brothers, Gallant and, um... Goofeth"
- The Vampire Diaries: Vicki is the foolish to Matt's responsible, Jeremy is the foolish to Elena's responsible and Damon is the foolish to Stefan's responsible.
- Unhappily Ever After: Older son Ryan is foolish, middle child Tiffany is responsible (and hot!). Ryan went to High School on the Five Year Plan, Tiffany got a full scholarship to an Ivy League school. Both ended up going to a local community college for a year.
- Two and a Half Men has Charlie (Foolish) and Alan (Responsible).
- The Sopranos: Meadow and AJ Soprano fit into this pattern pretty well, although Meadow does have phases of irresponsibility herself.
- Its worth noting that the middle child often falls into this role as well in Sitcoms. Notable examples of this are Malcolm in the Middle and its exponymous Malcolm, who is much more responsible than Dewey (although Dewey is only about six years old at the beginning of the series) and, well... just plain smarter than Reese.
- Interestingly, later on, the roles are shifted. Dewey becomes more responsible and down to earth while Malcolm becomes more and more cynical and pessimistic. Francis, who got sent away to military school because of his behaviour, actually gets his crap together, has a happy marriage and a good job.
- An interesting variation is used in That '70s Show, with Eric, a nerdy stoner, being much more responsible and level headed than his slutty and ditzy older sister, Laurie.
- Explored in My Name Is Earl with Earl evolving over the course of the show from being one of a pair of idiot siblings to being a resposible one and taking care of his brother Randy who remains the foolish one. At one point Earl has a minor Heroic B.S.O.D. when he realises he has become the guy everyone looks to for answers and help.
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Family", we're introduced to Captain Picard's older brother Robert, who attributes his bitter, jealous, and bullying behavior from their youth to this trope, claiming himself to have always been The Dutiful Son while Jean-Luc "broke every rule [their] father made and got away with it."
- Responsible, high-achieving, conservative-dressing Alex and Foolish, interested in dating rather than school Mallory in Family Ties
- The premise of the series Simon & Simon involved two brothers who worked as private detectives. Rick was a blue-collar Vietnam veteran (Marine Corps, no less) who drank considerably and had unsavory friends. The younger brother A.J. was the white-collar half of the duo. He attended university during the Vietnam era, and often scolded his brother. Rick was supposed to be streetwise, carefree and unflappable, while A.J. was straight-laced, anxious, and upwardly mobile, given to fretting about retaining his P.I.'s license.
- Stepsibling Example: Drake (Foolish) and Josh (Responsible) on Drake & Josh.
- Subverted in Frasier — both Niles and Frasier are firmly convinced that they are the responsible brother and the other is the foolish one. In reality, they are both a mixture of foolishness and responsibility, each of them having weaknesses exactly where the other has strengths, which perpetuates this running argument.
- How I Met Your Mother has Ted (responsible) and Heather (foolish) Mosby, which forms one episode's plot when Ted is skeptical of Heather's claims that she's grown up, seeing as how the last time she tried to clean up her act, she sold Ted's belongings to buy Nine Inch Nails tickets in Spain on the day of her admissions interview at NYU. Also, there's Barney (foolish) and James (responsible) Stinson, who have a different sort of development — they used to both be foolish (compulsive manwhoresnote who were constantly getting into trouble), and Barney feels abandoned when James matures and gets engaged.
- Oddly enough, it seems like Barney and James have switched places in season 9. Now Barney is the one who is settling down and getting married (to Robin) while James has cheated on his husband (repeatedly), leading to the end of their marriage and for James to seemingly return to the promiscuous lifestyle he left behind years ago.
- Outnumbered has stressed, mother-of-three Sue (Responsible) and undependable, new age Angela (Foolish).
- To a lesser degree, Sue's son's fit too, with serious, quiet Jake (Responsible) and erratic, compulsive liar Ben (Foolish).
- Foolish Alex Russo and Responisible Justin Russo in Wizards of Waverly Place.
- Firefly: While we have few indications as to River Tam's level of responsibility before the Academy, her fractured sanity at the time of the TV show, compared to Simon's level-headed caretaker role., make them a fairly good fit.
- CSI NY Flack the responsible one and his sister,Sam,the troubled one.
- Ryan and Kristen from Wilfred seem to fit their respective tropes at first. Ryan is unemployed and spends the days getting high and doing Jenna's busy work while Kristen is a successful doctor. But up close, they are the opposite. Ryan wrestles with his conscience and always does the right thing, for better or worst. Kristen on the other hand, makes bad decisions when it comes to her personal life. She wrecks her marriage after she has an affair with a married man and mothers a bastard she rightfully names Joffrey.
- Responsible Guinevere and trouble-magnet Elyan from Merlin.
- On ER, Dr. Susan Lewis is the responsible one - that title is your first clue - and her drug-addicted sister is the foolish one. Despite, or maybe because of this, Susan is The Unfavorite.
- Power Rangers
Madison: Don't look at me. I'm the sister with the common sense.
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Rita is the responsible sibling to her foolish brother Rito.
- Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: Red Ranger Leo is the foolish sibling to his older brother, Mike.
- Power Rangers Ninja Storm has three examples. Sensei Kanoi is the responsible sibling to his evil brother Kiya, Kapri is the responsible one to her ditzy sister Marah, and Blake is the responsible one his older brother, Hunter.
- Power Rangers Mystic Force: Madison is the responsible one to her brash sister, Vida.
- Played with in Supernatural. While, law-abiding, educated, responsible, empathetic Sam seems to be the Responsible Sibling to Dean's loud, boorish, womanizing, devil-may-care Foolish Sibling, Sam is also the Black Sheep of the family who butted heads with his father constantly while Dean is loyal and devoted to his family to the point that it's a character flaw. It seems that Sam was given more freedom and innocence as a kid while Dean was forced to be his brother's caretaker and his dad's loyal solider.
- However, Sam takes far more responsibility for his - and other people's - mistakes than Dean does. While Dean's sense of responsibility is mostly limited to his family, Sam's extends to the world in general.
- Saved by the Bell has Rod Belding, who is the foolish to Principal Richard Belding's responsible, being way too relaxed with the rules and then blowing off the kids for a field trip at the last minute for a date. Richard proves how much better a person he is by agreeing to take his brother's place to lead the trip.
- 8 Simple Rules has two Foolish siblings - Lovable Alpha Bitch Bridget and scheming Rory. Middle child Kerry is the rule-abiding bookworm who takes on the Responsible role.
- Arrow has the Lance sisters, Sara, who was the Foolish party girl and Laurel, who was the Responsible, studious pre-law. In the present day, this seems to have reversed as separate Break the Cutie forced Sara to mature and Laurel into a spiral of drugs and alcohol.
- House of Anubis plays around with this a bit. Patricia seems like she'd be the more down to Earth one, being the Deadpan Snarker and a bit more responsible than her rather emotional friends, while Piper seems like she'd be the naive and foolish one; However, when they actually interact, Patricia's impulsive and mischievous nature becomes much more obvious in comparison to her much calmer, nicer sister, making Piper the responsible on and Patricia the foolish one.
- Better Call Saul has the lawyer brothers of Jimmy and Chuck McGill, respectively. Jimmy is a former con-man who is working his tail off to turn his life around by building a legitimate practice of his own, or by joining his brother's prestigious law firm. And Chuck is secretly undermining Jimmy's struggle, believing him unworthy of practicing law, and angered by the shortcuts Jimmy has taken along the way.
- In ''Murdoch Mysteries', Dr. Julia Ogden's sister Ruby is introduced when she is revealed to be a magician's assistant to Harry Houdini, much to Julia's chagrin. While Julia has become a doctor and a coroner in Toronto, Ruby has gotten into popular journalism and travels the world, becoming romantically involved with the married H.G. Wells at one point. The two sisters sometimes bicker over their differences, with Julia making remarks about her sister's tendency to spend time with sultans and such. Ruby retaliates at one point by calling her sister "Jules" (an old childhood nickname Julia no longer likes) and lamenting her sister being a stick-in-the-mud, particularly critiquing the slow-motion courtship between her and William.
- The Ranch : Colt is Foolish, Rooster is Responsible, at least at first. Colt left the ranch to pursue (and screw up) a semi-pro football career, while Rooster stayed to work on the ranch. Beau, however, points out that they're both Man Child ren who spend more time drinking and chasing women than they do working.
- In Victorious, Tori Vega, though not above getting involved in wacky hijinks, is usually more sensible and down to earth than her deluded, self-obsessed older sister Trina.
- The Patty Duke Show: Impulsive, boy-crazy, Zany Scheme-prone Patty Lane (Foolish) and demure, cultured, sensible "identical cousin" Cathy Lane (Responsible).
- Madam Secretary: Done twice in the McCord family.
- Between Elizabeth McCord and her brother, Liz has a strong marriage and manages to balance her family with her career as Secretary of State. Her brother's marriage is on the rocks due to him being Married to the Job (as an aid worker in conflict zones, but still).
- Among Liz and Henry's children, the middle sibling Alison is a peer mediator at her school and a model student, whereas her older sister Stevie dropped out of college and her younger brother Jason clashes with his parents politically and got expelled from their Quaker school for punching out a bully. Also inverted between Alison and Stevie in "Standoff" when Stevie initially helps sneak Alison's boyfriend past the security detail to get back at their mother, but then changes her mind and takes him home rather than let Alison and the boyfriend have Their First Time upstairs.
- Queen Sugar has the Bordelon siblings: Ralph Angel, an ex-con who still engages in illegal activity and needs to find a job, is the foolish sibling. Charley, the wealthy sports manager, and Nova, the truth-seeking journalist, are the responsible siblings. Deconstructed because Ralph Angel is fully aware of this dynamic and finds it chafing. He considers his sisters' attempts to help him patronizing and doesn't think they have much faith in him.
- The premise of the song "I'd Rather Have a Bottle in Front of Me Than a Frontal Lobotomy". The irresponsible one is a drunk and the narrator; the responsible one is now a mental patient.
- A common portrayal of Rin and Len Kagamine of Vocaloid fame. Rin is usually the Foolish Sibling and Len is usually the Responsible Sibling.
- In the first opera from The Ring of the Nibelung cycle, Fasolt and Fafner are this during their first appearance, with Fasolt being the gullible and emotional brother, and Fafner the calculating and rational one. However, the situation quickly slips straight into Cain and Abel.
- Claus and Lucas from MOTHER 3. The former is the foolish one, and the latter the responsible one, which shows the most strongly in how they react to their mother's death. Claus goes off to get revenge, while Lucas obediently remains at home and indirectly spills the beans on where his brother went via a Suspiciously Specific Denial.
- Maya and Meena from Dragon Quest IV. Maya is a lot less serious then her fastidious sister, and loves to gamble.
- Played with in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines with Voermann twins—the responsible Therese and the foolish Jeanette. And by "played with", we mean that they are actually two extremely split personalities inhabiting the same body; they are actually Malkavians and this is how their madness manifests itself.
- Mega Man Battle Network has the foolish sibling be Lan/Netto Hikari, who likes to sleep in and neglect his studies, and Megaman/Rockman.EXE aka Hub/Saito as the responsible sibling who has to be his brother's alarm clock and personal nanny at times.
- Dōjo and Oguna in Onmyōji. Dōjo is a Spoiled Brat who doesn't hesitate to insult even her older brother when he tries to reason with her, even though he always puts up with it. According to Oguna's in-game autobiography, there was a time when Dōjo was lost eight times in a single month.
- Despite being equally talented at fighting, Kim Dong-Hwan and Kim Jae-Hoon, Kim Kaphwan's sons from Garou: Mark of the Wolves, are this, with Dong-Hwan being the Foolish one (a lazy slacker who prefers the Korean nightlife to strict training) and Jae-Hoon being the Responsible one (taking more after his dad in both looks and dedication, to the point of actually inheriting his Hou'ou Kyaku).
- Solatorobo gives us Red and Chocolat. He's somewhat Hot-Blooded and is the one who actually fights, while she is Mission Control and manages the team's financial issues. In this case, the responsible sibling is only 13, while the foolish one is 17.
- Partially lampshaded in Persona 3. When Ken Amada joins the team, Junpei assumes a Big Brother Mentor role. Yukari metions something to the effect that Junpei's is like the foolish sibling, while Ken's the responsible and mature one.
- In Persona 4, Ryotaro Dojima was apparently the foolish sibling to the main character's mother, since he's implied to have been a bit of a troublemaker when he was young, such as earning himself a thrashing from his father by riding around on a bike.
- Miwako (responsible) and Yumi (foolish) Shimizu from the Nancy Drew game Shadow at the Water's Edge. Though also a bit of an inversion— Miwako's prudency renders her very apprehensive and unwilling to help Nancy with the mystery, instead attempting to discourage her from continuing, while Yumi is actively helping her, albeit in a very cryptic, indirect manner.
- Technically, they're cousins, but Grand Theft Auto IV's Roman Bellic plays foolish gambling addict to Niko's responsible contract killer.
- The Stamatin twins in Pathologic. Petr is a co-dependent alcoholic shut-in, and Andrei (while spending most of his time in the twyrine den coming up with ways to screw with people, and therefore not responsible in any traditional sense of the word) is a dangerous man with a strong force of will, and considers it his personal mission in life to protect his brother from the outside world. In particular, professionally. They work together as architects - Petr designs avant-garde buildings that break the laws of reality and Andrei does the civil engineering necessary to erect them.
- Lyndon and Edlin of Diablo III were close brothers who chose different paths when they grew up. Lyndon became a scoundrel and started running with the Thieves' Guild more to amuse himself than anything. Edlin became a city guard with a wife and children.
- Artoirel and Emmanellain de Fortemps from the Heavensward expansion of Final Fantasy XIV are Responsible and Foolish, respectively. Both of them show signs of childish behavior, but Artoirel is the heir to the noble Fortemps family legacy and thus The Dutiful Son, while self-centered Emmanellain is more or less a Lazy Bum Upper-Class Twit.
- In Stardew Valley, Haley is the Foolish to Emily's Responsible. Despite her outgoing attitude, Emily is the more mature of the two and works part-time in Gus' bar, while Haley seems very childish for her age, throwing tantrums at the thought of being forced to do household chores and mostly just loitering about.
- Played with in Undertale, where Papyrus appears to be an ambition-minded skeleton dedicated to serving the royal guard, while Sans only seems interested in pranks and loafing. When really Papyrus' attempts to be serious and mature which makes him come across as quite (unintentionally) goofy and, as it turns out, he doesn't have a single mean bone in his body, and such as he is incapable of actually hurting anyone, meaning he is not really cut out for bodyguard work. Meanwhile, Sans secretly spends a lot of his time trying to keep his brother happy and is quite cynical and melancholic beneath his goofy surface, and he hides his own problems to not worry his brother. and if the player behaves evilly enough, he is eventually driven to attempt to kill them, and unlike his brother he will not show any mercy.
- Felicia and Flora from Fire Emblem Fates are Foolish and Responsible, respectively, but both of them also show a bit of the opposite trait as well. Felicia is Foolish in that she's quite incompetent as a maid, being clumsy and terrible at cooking, but is also a little Responsible in that she is more favored by her father when it comes to weapon handling, and is also much more rational than Flora. Flora is Responsible, being the much more competent maid and cook, but is also Foolish in the way she acts throughout the story of Birthright, being quite unreasonable when it comes to killing Corrin for their supposed betrayal, and is even willing to kill her own sister over it. It ends VERY badly for her.
- Played with in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney with the Gavin brothers. Kristoph is a defense attorney known as "The Coolest Defense in the West" for his calm demeanor, has an excellent win record, and is generally unflappable. Younger brother Klavier is a wild-card prosecutor who flirts while in the courtroom, and is the lead singer of his very own rock band outside it. Kristoph is also the Big Bad of the game, and Klavier one of your best allies in bringing him to justice.
- Julie is mostly the responsible sibling and Angelika is mostly the foolish sibling in Our Little Adventure.
- Elon and Myari of Ears for Elves, oh so much; they fit the opening paragraphs of this page to a T. Older brother Elon is cautious and methodical where Genki Girl Myari is impulsive and excitable.
- In Shiniez, Mike and Lisa fill the foolish and responsible roles respectively, interestingly despite the fact that Lisa is the younger and the one leading a double life.
- In Pacificators, we have Larima and Taffe. It's not quite so straightforward, though; Larima is The Ditz and Genki Girl who loves being a Pacificator, and takes her duty seriously. Taffe is The Stoic and The Lancer, but she never wanted to be a Pacificator in the first place.
- Matchu has the older Chu as the foolish sibling and the younger Matchu as the responsible sibling.
- Anna and Susan from Sire make up both halves of the Jekyll & Hyde-Child, thusly one sister is rational, calm and reasonable and the other is completely and utterly without inhibition.
- In The Veligent, Kade is the more laid back sibling, while his brother is the more serious and responsible one.
- In The Mansion of E, Sylvester is responsible and Mortimer is foolish. At least until Mortimer learns that he is an unknowing wizard.
- Nebula has older sister Earth as a naive Genki Girl, with her younger sister Venus being a pragmatic and more mature Deadpan Snarker.
- General Protection Fault has the Barker brothers. Jason "Fooker" Barker's the Foolish one, being The Slacker, and a recovering alcoholic who barely got into college and got held back several times. Justin Barker went to a military academy, and was an aspiring secret agent until Jason unwittingly ended up taking the opportunity from him. The Oshiro siblings also qualify, as Ki is mature and responsible, while Yoshi is extremely intelligent, but also an Insufferable Genius with a knack for getting himself into trouble.
- Adventurers! has Karashi (responsible) and Mizuna (foolish). Both were trained as ninjas, and Mizuna was actually a prodigy, but she misunderstood all the favorable comparisons to Karashi, fled, and joined Khrima. When the sisters duel, Mizuna throws a sudden childish fit upon realizing that Karashi broke one of her earrings, with the comic's title sarcastically urging the reader to guess which one was the older sister. Upon her Heel–Face Turn, Mizuna is shown to still be impatient while training.
- The Questport Chronicles has The Lord of the Supreme Council as the responsible sibling and The Queen of Rogues and Robbers as the foolish sibling. All hell breaks loose when they run into each other.
- The Nostalgia Critic and The Other Guy. Also slightly played with, as The Other Guy is proud to reveal that he controls the Critic like a puppet-master.
- In Noob, Sparadrap is the foolish sibling while his younger brother Ystos is the responsible one.
- The twins in Simple Complications. Lyle is the foolish one, while Jake is the responsible one.
- Super Mario Logan:
- In the "Bowser Junior's First Grade!" story arc, Emily Coleman, who is one of the few students who has some common sense and maturity, serves as the responsible sibling to her crazy brother, Patrick's foolish sibling.
- In "Chef Pee Pee's Family", Chef Pee Pee and his unnamed sister serve as the responsible siblings to their sister, Stacy's foolish sibling. In particular, Stacy spends most of her time cheering the same word: "Queef", much to their annoyance.
- In "The Koopalings! Part 2", Junior, Iggy, Roy, Larry, and Ludwig are the responsible siblings, while Wendy, Morton, and Lemmy are the foolish ones. In particular, Wendy smashed a dish over a spot she missed, and later cut the couch in half with a chainsaw (which led to Mario and Bowser getting evicted from their apartment), Lemmy broke a table with a cannonball from Bowser's clown car, and Morton smashed another table with a hammer, with Junior trying to stop them all the while.
- In the "Character gets grounded" videos, a lot of the troublemakers have this dynamic with their siblings:
- Caillou (Foolish), Rosie (Responsible).
- Little Bill (Foolish), April and Bobby (Responsible).
- David (Foolish), Eric and Ivy (Responsible).
- Zara (Foolish), Erika (Responsible).
- Arthur (Foolish) (shockingly)), D.W (Responsible)
- Noah (Foolish), Toby (Responsible)
- The Simpsons: Bart and Lisa are extreme versions, Bart being Foolish, Lisa being Responsible.
- Dexter's Laboratory: Dexter and Dee Dee. Dexter being the smart one, and Dee Dee being downright stupid and foolish one. Then again, there are those moments that Dexter does something completely boneheaded and Dee Dee's Flighty nature ends up being the only thing that defuses the situation. (Granted, sometimes it makes it worse...) She has also shown several times to be responsible when she needs to be. Dee Dee IS a good older sister after all.
- The Boondocks has Riley Freeman as the foolish younger brother and Huey Freeman as the older responsible one.
- Rocket Power has the arrogant and impulsive Otto (foolish) and the pragmatic and more level-headed Reggie (responsible).
- The Legend of Korra:
- Mako and Bolin. The two of them grew up on the streets, but while the stoic and reserved Mako is dedicated to winning the probending tournament and the purse that comes with it, Bolin is a casual lady's man who loves to have fun. Then again, Bolin proves that he can be serious too, taking up the team leadership in "The Spirit of Competition," for example. "The Revelation" seems to imply that he realizes this dynamic exists and is trying to change it (by getting a job), but unfortunately he kind of screwed that one up.
- Katara notes that Kya and Bumi were the foolish siblings to the Tenzin's responsible sibling. Tenzin and his siblings argue - well into middle-age - about who was responsible and who wasn't.
- In season 3 we find out Lin has a half sister Suyin. As teens Lin was the responsible, becoming a cop like her mom, and Suyin was the foolish, skipping school and hanging out with gangsters. She's calmed down since then—starting her own family and even founding a city—but is still laidback compared to Lin.
- Western Animation/Dr. Dimensionpants: Despite being the superhero in the family, Kyle is the foolish one, while his kid genius sister Amanda is the responsible one.
- The title character is the responsible sibling compared to her sister Quinn.
- Jane could also be the responsible one compared to Trent, but only because he's irresponsible compared to anyone.
- In Gravity Falls, Mabel takes on the role of the foolish sibling, while Dipper is the responsible one.
- "Tale Of Two Stans" suggest that this was also the case for Grunkle Stanley Pines and his twin brother, Grunkle Stanford Pines. Such a relationship is deconstructed, however; Our Stan's constant tomfoolery combined with Ford's work ethic, caused a rift to form between the two. It is played with around as Ford has an astounding lack of foresight with his dangerous experiments upon arriving at Gravity Falls (which led to mroe than few problems later on) and fell prey to Bill's silver tongue while Stan's rough life did give him some responsibility and has the safety of Dipper and Mabel foremost in his mind.
- On 6teen, foolish Jonesy and responsible Jen became step-siblings in season 2.
- Wat and his brother in Wat's Pig. Wat was raised as a peasant and so knows how to take care of himself. His brother, now the king, has never worked a day in his life, and it's a bit of a shock to him when he has to.
- Subverted on Johnny Test. While Johnny is the younger sibling who tends to get into scrapes, and his older twin sisters are bookish and brilliant, they perform experiments on him, which in real life would result in someone calling the authorities.
- Camp Lazlo has a mild example with Loon twins Dave and Ping-Pong. While both think similarly, have the same sarcastic wit and act almost the same, Dave is a little more sensitive and easily impressionable than his brother.
- On Steven Universe, teenage brother Ronaldo Fryman is a self-promoting Conspiracy Theorist who slacks off at the Family Business, while his preteen brother Peedee is an anxious, Adorably Precocious Child who covers for him. Lampshaded by their father in "Political Power:"
Mr. Fryman: Without power, I can't take care of my family! (motions to Peedee) Well, this one's fine, (jerks thumb at Ronaldo) but he can't take care of himself!
- Adventure Time, in the episode Jermaine, reveals that Finn and Jake had this with their other brother Jermaine. He believes Finn and Jake were the Foolish ones, getting to live an easy life while he stayed behind to protect their father's home and treasures from the demons who want them back. However, it's Deconsturcted. Jake cools his brother down and Jermaine realizes that he "built his own cage." He kept hismelf at home due to misplaced beliefs while Finn and Jake applied the lessons their father taught them and kept alot of evil at bay and saving Ooo. Jermaine eventually lets the home burn down before going off on his own path.
- As Told by Ginger:
- In the Foutley family, Ginger is the sensible and capable Responsible. Carl is the scheming, mischievous Foolish.
- Swapped around for their respective best friends in the Bishop family; older sister and wannabe social climber Dodie is the Foolish. Hoodsey is the straight man to Carl, making him the Responsible.
- In the Gripplings, Courtney is more air-headed and oblivious to make her the Foolish sibling. Blake is a little more grounded, making him the Responsible.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Applejack the Team Mom and hard worker of Sweet Apple Acres is the Responsible sibling. Apple Bloom is the youngest, over-enthusiastic and prone to youthful mistakes - therefore the Foolish sibling. Big Macintosh doesn't fit into this scheme.
- Pinkie Pie is the walking definition of Cloud Cuckoo Lander, making her the Foolish sibling. Maud Pie, despite being an Emotionless Girl, is grounded and level-headed - making her the Responsible.
- In the Tiny Toon Adventures episodes, "Take Elmyra Please" and "Grandma's Dead", Elmyra acts as the foolish sibling to her little brother, Duncan's responsible sibling. Elmyra wants to pursue an acting career, but has mistaken a pair of criminals for a pair of TV executives, whilst Duncan wants to be a superhero and often protects Elmyra from dangers she is otherwise oblivious to.