Pichu's brother doesn't want him to get hurt. He's the smart brother.
— Narrator, describing the Pichu Brothers in the Pokémon short, "Pikachu and Pichu".
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. He or She may be louder, more outgoing and usually more popular (or at least try to be), desiring attention, especially from the opposite sex. Usually they don't have outright bad intentions, they just doesn't understand that anything they do can have consequences for themselves or other people. Alternatively, he or she 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 him or herself 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. He or she is often more of a parental figure in the other sibling's life, even if their actual parents are still present. She or he 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. Is 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 him or herself 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.
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 Right Way/Wrong Way Pair, The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry and Cain and Abel.
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Anime And Manga
In Lucky Star, Kagami is responsible and Tsukasa is foolish.
In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, Leo is the foolish one and Luna is the responsible one.
In Sailor Moon, the main character Usagi is ditzy, fun-loving and lazy, while her younger brother Shingo is much smarter and more responsible.
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.
In Kekkaishi, Toshimori and Masamori are responsible. Yoshimori is foolish enough for the both of them.
In Blue Exorcist, older twin Rin is foolish while younger twin Yukio is responsible.
Eyeshield 21: Agon and Unsui personify this trope. Unsui is serious, hard working, and a team player. Agon is a lazy hedonist whose also the team's star player.
K-On!: Yui is the foolish and the two years younger Ui is the responsible one
At first glance, this appears to be the Elric brothers from Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, with Ed as the foolish, reckless, overly dramatic one, and Al as the more responsible one. As time goes on, however, it becomes increasingly clear that Ed is nowhere near as foolish as he seems, and he drops it altogether by the later seasons of the series.
In Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, Chiri is the responsible sibling, and Tane, her older sister is the foolish (mostly just a complete slob) one.
Mind you, in reality it's the other way around, as Tane purposely sacrifices her own organization skills to keep her sister's extreme OCD in line.
The Pichu Brothers in the shorts count at first, but this aspect is downplayed in Pokémon Chronicles.
One Piece: Luffy and Ace respectively; same goes for Franky and Iceburg. In both cases, the brothers are actually adoptive.
Naruto: 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.
School Rumble has the Tsukamuto sisters: Yakumo, though younger, is the more responsible one while Tenma is the foolish/more childish one.
In Dragon Ball 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 past life before Goten was born.
In Fruits Basket, the ages are reversed to give older sibling Ayame as the "foolish" one and his much younger brother Yuki as the responsible one, who is continually annoyed by his older brother's antics whenever they meet.
Same thing applies to the Haninozuka brothers. The eldest is the foolish to the youngest's responsible.
In Twenty Seven Dresses, Jane is the elder, responsible sister and her younger sister Tess is Foolish.
In Sucker Punch, Sweet Pea is the older, responsible one and Rocket is the irresponsible one, in Baby Doll's imaginedfantasy. To the point that Rocket ran away from home even though their situation wasn't a very bad one and Sweet Pea followed her to make sure she'd be okay, which lands them in a brothel.
The first part of The Prince of Egypt showed this dynamic with Ramses as the responsible sibling.
In Four Brothers, Jeremiah and Jack are far more responsible and rational than their more impulsive and hot-headed brothers, Bobby and Angel.
Played straight and is the main plot point in the film Jason's Lyric, besides the love story.
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. The dynamic is reversed and turned up to eleven by the events of the film.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, Closer 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. 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.
A cousin example with Bess Marvin and George Fayne of the Nancy Drew series.
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.
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).
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.
Mansfield Park does it with brothers — the foolish Tom and the responsible Edmund Bertram; the heroine is in love with the latter.
Despite her inability to successfully matchmake, Emma, as Mr. Knightley observes, is much more clever and level-headed than her ditzy, hypochondriac sister Isabella.
Charles Musgrove of Persuasion wanted to marry responsible Anne Elliot but had to settle for her foolish sister Mary.
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.
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 George Sr. lampshades it by comparing two of his sons.
"[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.
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 BSOD 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 And 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 With the unique advantage of James being gay who were constantly getting into trouble), and Barney feels abandoned when James matures and gets engaged.
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 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.
Madison: Don't look at me. I'm the sister with the common sense.
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 anddevoted 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.
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.
In Noob, Sparadrap is the foolish sibling while his younger brother Ystos is the responsible one.
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.
In MOTHER 3, Lucas is responsible and Claus is foolish.
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 Hub/Saito as the responsible sibling who has to be his brother's alarm clock and personal nanny at times.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As they do a lot of videos as themselves reviewing modern movies, Doug and Rob will play this dynamic too. Doug's usually the ditzy, slightly crazy Wide-Eyed Idealist, while Rob is more cynical and can smack Doug down when he gets too far.
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.
Mako and Bolin from The Legend of Korra. 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.
Also from Legend of Korra, Katara notes that Kya and Bumi were the foolish siblings to the Tenzin's responsible sibling. If Bumi's season 1 finale cameo says anything, this has actually continued into their adulthood.
Tenzin and his siblings actually argue about who was responsible and who wasn't.