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->''Personally, I have always suspected it is something far simpler: Kit doesn’t like the little ones getting all the attention for being small and cute, and Lochan and me telling everyone what to do, while he’s stuck in no-man’s-land, the archetypal middle child with no partner in crime. Now that Kit has gained the necessary respect at school by joining a gang who sneaks out of the gates to smoke weed in the local park at lunchtime, he bitterly resents the fact that at home he is still considered just one of the children.''
-->-- '''Maya Whitely''' about her middle child brother '''Kit''', ''Literature/{{Forbidden}}''

Everyone loves the oldest child because the [[ParentalFavoritism parents can rely on them]], [[BigBrotherMentor they watch out for their siblings]] and [[CoolBigSis they're so confidently attractive]]. The YoungestChildWins because they're [[TheBabyOfTheBunch the "baby"]]. But what does that leave the one in the middle?

That's essentially the definition of Middle Child Syndrome, in which a child automatically may become TheUnfavorite or the rebellious BlackSheep, specifically because they are the easiest child to overlook. They're not old enough to be given the responsibilities and privileges of the oldest, and the youngest child took their spot as the spoiled and doted-on "baby" of the family. This tends to be more of an issue when there are [[RuleOfThree three children]] rather than four or more. Oftentimes in media, the middle child ends up becoming more of the DeadpanSnarker or the quirky one for this reason. That, or they end up the best-adjusted between the overly-responsible elder sibling and overly-privileged younger.

Can be somewhat avoided, but not always, if the middle child is special by being of the opposite gender than their siblings, which can give them a unique dynamic with the rest of the family.

TruthInTelevision. It's common to blame or demonize the parents, but in most cases, they do not realize the situation, and need it brought up to them. There are also times when the parents do see there is a problem, but do not know how to handle it.

Contrast OnlyChildSyndrome, which tends to have the opposite effect of too ''much'' attention rather than too little.

For the trilogy variant of this trope, it's SophomoreSlump.


[[folder: Anime and Manga]]
* ''Manga/SuperGals'': Inverted with Ran; out of her siblings, she seems to have the most interactions with her parents (especially her father). However, this has less to do with her being a middle child, and more because of her rebellious tendencies.
* Downplayed in ''Manga/AhMyGoddess''. Belldandy hardly suffers from being a black sheep or unloved, but she does seem to be somewhat left out, as her nature, elegant and refined, is very different from that of Urd and Skuld, who have much more in common with each other than with her. As a result she's always on the outside of their antics, so much so that she feels jealous.
* Subverted with Kankuro of ''Manga/{{Naruto}}''. While, overall, not as powerful as his older sister or younger brother, he's still formidable. It's also implied that ''none'' of them really got on well with their father, and Kankuro seems pleased with the opportunity to finally act like a big brother to Gaara after Gaara's HeelFaceTurn. He and Temari are likewise shown to be close. ''However'' he is all-but ignored by a lot of the fanbase.
* Kozue in ''Manga/{{Working}}'' suffers from this, being the third child of the five Takanashi siblings. This is compounded by the fact that her younger brother Souta is the only son of the family and thus receives a disproportionate amount of attention such that she is often forgotten. As a result, she grew up to be a HardDrinkingPartyGirl who simply wanted more attention.
* ''Manga/HunterXHunter'':
** Inverted with Killua, the {{Deuteragonist}} of ''Manga/HunterXHunter''. He is the WhiteSheep, but he's the favorite of his psychotic mother Kikyo, and his father Silva is sure that Killua will become like himself. Killua is also beloved by three of his four brothers. Illumi is [[KnightTemplarBigBrother an overprotective and extreme]] older brother, Kalluto [[spoiler:joins the Phantom Troupe]] in the hope of bringing his brother home, and Alluka can't ''not'' love Killua, the only one of the family who loves Alluka. Even Milluki admits that Killua has the most potential in the family.
** Considering that the Chimera Ant Royal Guards are siblings, Shaiapouf is the weakest of the three, and a CrazyJealousGuy. The latter part is the reason why he is so hated by the fandom, because he's the only one who acts against the king: trying to [[spoiler:kill Komugi]].
* Jagi, the third of the four Hokuto Shinken brothers in ''Manga/FistOfTheNorthStar'' is the BlackSheep, the weakest brother and is the only one never shown in a sympathetic light in the original manga/anime. Raoh is the strongest, Toki is the most talented, [[YoungestChildWins Kenshiro is the true successor and better than all of them]]. He's often DemotedToExtra in other media and even in the main series is never mentioned again after his death.
* ''Manga/MinamiKe'':
** Kana Minami is the dumb and lazy sister among the three, is usually the ButtMonkey towards her younger sister, but also occasionally to her older sister, too. While Haruka is very popular in her school and and Chiaki is respected by her classmates, Kana is not, though, she's not unpopular either and is even the first one to get a LoveInterest, to whom she is [[ObliviousToLove oblivious]]…
** Whenever the three brothers of the other Minami family have a discussion (mostly about their younger sister Touma), Akira Minami is often ignored by his two older brothers due to the age gap, despite that most of his statements are actually right. Not only that, he gets the short stick in the LoveDodecahedron between Kana, Fujioka, Riko and himself.
* In ''Manga/HotarubiNoTomoruKoroNi'', Nobuteru is implied to have been The Unfavorite among the three Tadamura brothers (according to himself at least) and he ended up as the most rebellious among them, their birth village's stiffening rules not helping. The eldest broth Masashi, on the other hand, is a serious man who seems to still follow the village's customs faithfully, while the youngest one Tsunemasa is more candid and optimistic - and said by Nobuteru to have been their mother's favorite, although he objects to that.
* In ''Manga/SaintSeiya'', the Bronze Saints are our five protagonists who keep winning battle against people much stronger than them, and the Gold Saints are said much stronger people, who are greatly respected, extremely dangerous and are focused on just as much as the Bronzes. But... what about the Silver Saints...? They are pretty much just there to either be the Bronzes' mentors, or the obnoxious one-off enemies. Aside from [[CoolBigSis Marin]], [[ActionGirl Shaina]], [[TheFightingNarcissist Misty]] and [[TheAce Lyra Orphee]], nobody cares about the other Silvers.
** ''Manga/SaintSeiyaTheLostCanvas'' is even worse. The only Silver Saint we know is Yuzuriha, nobody else are mentioned or play any important role. It doesn't help that this series focuses a LOT on the Golds (given that they were EnsembleDarkHorse in the classic series), and gives what other spotlight to [[TheHero Tenma]] and [[TheLancer Yato]]. It's hard not to feel sorry for the Silvers.

[[folder: Comic Books]]
* Jason Todd was the [[DeadSidekick second]] ComicBook/{{Robin}} and since coming BackFromTheDead certainly seems to live certain aspects of this trope. Specifically, he resents Batman for replacing him with another Robin and because he thinks he was TheUnfavorite compared to Dick, the first Robin.
-->'''Jason:''' But boy, Dick, you sure got game… Guess that's why 'Dad' always loved you best.
** Lampshaded by [[Comicbook/RobinSeries Tim]], when he refers to Jason as the 'Jan Brady' of the [=BatFamily=]:
--->'''Tim:''' And yes, I know that makes me Cindy.
* Since Jason's being 'disowned' on account of being crazy, Tim has since been put into the middle child role between Dick and Damian Wayne and it only got worse when [[spoiler:Bruce died, leaving Dick Grayson as the new Batman and Tim getting replaced by Damian]]. He's handling it better than Jason, but most of the DCU is of the consensus that Tim needs to get some therapy.

[[folder: Fairy Tales]]
* In some versions of ''Beauty And The Beast'', Belle is ''la cadette'', the second daughter who (at least in one version of the tale) gets picked on by both her sisters, has a MissingMom, three absent brothers, and spends her time self-sacrificing for her father who apparently prefers her… but agrees, upon her insistence, to let her do all the work while her sisters are pampered. Finally, her father abandons her in a creepy mansion in the woods because she told him to.
* In ''[[http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/authors/grimms/130onetwothreeyes.html One-Eye, Two-Eyes, and Three-Eyes]]'', a witch had three daughters, each of which had one more eye than the one before. The middle daughter is therefore the one with two eyes and gets abused. Of course, that means she gets to marry the king in the end.
-->''However, as Two-eyes saw just as other human beings did, her sisters and her mother could not endure her. They said to her, "Thou, with thy two eyes, art no better than the common people; thou dost not belong to us!"''

[[folder: Fan Works]]
* One ''WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls'' {{Fanfic}} offered an [[AlternativeCharacterInterpretation alternate interpretation]]. Rather than making Blossom the Eldest, she was the ''Middle Child'', and her acting more mature and claiming of the leader role was her attempt to compensate for her fear of being overlooked. Buttercup was the Youngest, and her extreme attitude was her way of rebelling against any notion of labeling her the 'baby', and Bubbles was the Eldest and simply didn't care about whatever role she 'should' fill, given that all the girls were extremely young ''anyway'' and her sisters were more willing to fill those stereotypes.
* This is [[spoiler:Trixie's]] FreudianExcuse in the ''Fanfic/PonyPOVSeries''. She gets a double dose of this because not only is she the middle sibling, [[UncannyFamilyResemblance they all look so alike that people asked her if her and her sisters where clones.]]
* In ''Fanfic/EmpathTheLuckiestSmurf'', Grouchy was the middle child of his family that consisted of his older twin brothers Hefty and Handy and his younger sister Sassette, and doesn't like that his Papa Smurf cared more about them than he did about him.
* In ''Fanfic/FantasyDatabase'', we have the protagonist Icarus, who is often overlooked by AnnoyingYoungerSibling Phaeton and AloofBigBrother Sisyphus.
* In the ''{{Discworld}}'' of Creator/AAPessimal, wizard Ponder Stibbons and Assassin Johanna Smith-Rhodes have three daughters. Bekki the eldest is a good-natured trainee Witch. Ruth the youngest is a shy, serious, creatively minded intellectual. In between there is Famke. Student Assassin. One of the vanishingly small number of people who would ''dare'' go up against her mother in a stand-off shouting row. The youngest person ever sent on the Vimes Run by Miss Band. Not delinquent or misbehaving as such - just strong-minded and something of a {{Tykebomb}}.

[[folder: Film]]
* The ''[[Film/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles TMNT]]'' film series saw fit to bring this part of "cool but rude" Raphael into the mainstream. Putting up with "Splinter, Jr." is his least favorite part of being a turtle. And he doesn't even have a utility like being smart, unlike the other middle child, Donny.
* The eponymous Eve from ''Film/EvesBayou'' felt like TheUnfavorite compared to her older sister and younger brother. This is probably why she developed such a close bond with her aunt Mozelle.
* Dawn Wiener in ''Film/WelcomeToTheDollhouse''. Shunned by her [[KidsAreCruel peers]] and ignored by her [[TheUnfavorite family]], Dawn pretty much has to fend for herself.
* In ''[[Website/DarwinAwards The Darwin Awards]]'' movie, the protagonist cites this as being a possible motivating factor for many peoples' Darwin Award moments... including himself.
* ''Film/RepoTheGeneticOpera''. This is a possible contributing factor in Pavi Largo's descent into psychotic narcissism. His elder brother Luigi almost certainly got more attention than him on account of being an angry, murderous psychopath since birth, and his younger sister Amber is the biggest AttentionWhore imaginable. The Extended Universe info suggests that Pavi, by contrast, was ''relatively'' unremarkable while growing up (aside from having a severe speech impediment, which he eventually learned to cover up by adopting a ridiculous Italian accent) and it was only ''later'' that he turned into a deranged, womanizing rapist who enjoys cutting women's faces off and grafting them onto his own (horribly scarred) face.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Antz}}'' begins with Woody Allen's ant character in a session with his ant therapist, and one of his many issues is "When you're the middle child in a family of five million, you don't get any attention. I mean, how is that possible?"
* ''Film/TheLionTheWitchAndTheWardrobe'': This is one of Edmund's many issues in the first half of the film. Peter and Susan are the grown-up "older ones" who are given all the responsibility and Lucy is the adored baby of the family who everyone looks after. Edmund is just the awkward, rebellious sibling -- too old to be coddled but too young to keep up with his older brother and sister. [[spoiler:This resentment is what eventually leads to him betraying his siblings, although Jadis and her evil magic were involved, and he makes up for it in the end.]]
* ''Film/{{Crazy}}'': Zac, the protagonist, suffers from this. His 3 older brothers distinguish themselves one way or the other (the eldest is a straight-A student, the second son is quite a ladies man, the third is a great athlete), and the youngest brother is TheBabyOfTheBunch. Plus, his conservative father doesn't accept his homosexuality.
* Edith in the ''WesternAnimation/DespicableMe'' films got hit with this, particularly in the second film, where she gets the least development of her sisters, and her incoming CrowningMomentOfAwesome (fighting the mutated Kevin) at the climax is interrupted by [[spoiler:Dr. Nefario using the PX-41 antidote on Kevin at the very last second]]. She even gets ignored by [[Creator/{{Universal}} the marketing team]], as the theatrical trailers for the three films don't show any of her speaking parts, instead focusing on Margo and Agnes in the first two, and Agnes in the third.

[[folder: Literature]]
* ''Literature/TheBabySittersClub'':
** Tiffany Kilbourne.
** Kristy has a bit of this as well: too young to hang out with Sam and Charlie, too old to play with David Michael, Karen, and Andrew.
* OlderThanRadio: ''Literature/WhatKatyDid'' by Susan Coolidge, 1872. Katy and Clover, the oldest children in the family, are inseparable, as are the three youngest, Dorry, Johnnie and Phil. The one in the middle, Elsie, is too old to play with the younger kids and too young to hang out with the older ones and is accordingly lonely and miserable.
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'':
** Stannis Baratheon, the middle child of the Baratheon brothers and the only unpopular, humorless KnightTemplar of the bunch -- both his older brother Robert and his younger brother Renly are instead charming {{Boisterous Bruiser}}s. Renly was happy looking up to Robert, but Stannis wanted to move out of his shadow.
** Lysa Arryn is implied to contend with this, being in the middle between [[ParentalSubstitute Catelyn]] and [[HeirClubForMen Edmure]]. Jaime Lannister, when he was younger, found Catelyn more interesting than Lysa, whom he might have been betrothed to.
** Not so apparent with Arya because she's a DaddysGirl but she's still the third child of Ned and Catelyn Stark's five children and the fourth child of Ned's six children (Arya has an older half-brother, Jon Snow, who is Ned's [[HeroicBastard illegitimate son]] and raised alongside his siblings) so it's still somewhat there. Two of her older siblings, Robb and Sansa, both easily fit into the responsibilities and expectations assigned to them; her older brothers Robb and Jon are raised side by side, mentored together by Ned and are best friends, while her younger brothers Bran and Rickon are doted upon because they are the babies of the family. It doesn't help that she's a misfit herself as her tomboyish nature clashes with societal expectations while Sansa exemplifies societal expectations as a lady to near perfection. She's also the only one out of Catelyn's children who doesn't look like a Tully but looks all Stark -- which is part of why she's so close with her half-brother Jon, also somewhat of an outsider like her, because she and Jon are the only two of Ned's kids to inherit the Stark look. This trope (and her being nine years old) is suggested to be why she acts out so much, especially in the first book.
** Viserys is the second(surviving) child of Aerys Targaryen. When compared to his older brother [[TheAce Rhaegar]] and younger sister Daenerys, Viserys is unremarkable and pretty much a weakling. Whilst Rhaegar and Dany inherit much of the positive traits of the Targaeryen bloodline, Viserys has nothing but his fathers madness.
** Jaime is a subversion. He's the middle Lannister child but also Tywin's favorite for [[AbusiveParents whatever that's worth]]. Tywin discounts the eldest child, Cersei, because she's a girl, and considers the youngest, Tyrion, a walking disappointment because he's a hedonistic dwarf. However, Jaime is the "middle Child" only the strictest possible definition, he's barely a minute younger than Cersei.
* In Creator/DianaWynneJones's ''Literature/HowlsMovingCastle'' (but not the movie), Lettie is actually the prettiest and most ambitious of the three Hatter sisters, but Martha is the youngest child, so she gets sent off to train as a witch and Sophie, the protagonist, is the oldest, so she's groomed to take over the family business. Lettie is expected to work as an apprenticeship at a pastry shop, where she'll meet some nice man and have lots of children. Also, Martha is Sophie and Lettie's half-sister from their father's second marriage, which "ought to have made Sophie and Lettie into Ugly Sisters", but didn't. As one might expect from a Diana Wynne Jones book, there is a plot twist whereby [[spoiler:Lettie and Martha reject their expected roles and switch places and appearances]].
* Fredo Corleone of ''Film/TheGodfather'' has this in spades. Sonny has the brawn, Michael has the brains, and Tom Hagen plays the traditional middle child role of mediating between them. While introducing Kay to his family during the novel's opening sections, Michael acknowledges that Fredo serves almost no purpose in the Corleone family.
** In the book he's described as being the quintessential Italian MommasBoy, and he was essentially useless to the family business.
** In the Mark Winegartener sequel novels, it is implied that a severe case of pneumonia when Fredo was an infant was partially responsible for his behavior issues and/or mild retardation. In addition, he was also a heavily closeted homosexual, which is something of a no-no in Old World Italian values, and compensated by cultivating a reputation as a swinging ladies' man, which ''also'' went against his family's conservative upbringing. Following on from this, his "betrayal" in Part II came about because he wanted to start a racket of his own ''(described in the novels as owning his own cemetery in New Jersey, giving him a piece of all the stonemasonry, flowers, landscaping, etc., that came through, not to mention the obvious benefits of a mobster owning a place to legally hide dead bodies)'' in order to prove his independence and show that he could be successful and not reliant on his younger brother's largesse. It's also shown that Michael considers Fredo to be the unfavorite of his brothers; Nick Geraci, a Corleone ''capo'' and primary antagonist in the novels, thinks to himself that Fredo's idea has plenty of merit, but that Michael wouldn't give it any consideration just because it was Fredo's.
** Others outside the immediate Corleone family, though, consider Fredo to be the most likable. While Sonny had a hair-trigger temper and one always had to be on guard with Tom and Michael for subtle nuances and double meanings, Fredo had the distinction of being both friendly and harmless, the most easily approachable of the Corleones for a drink and casual conversation.
* Inverted in Creator/JodiPicoult's ''Literature/MySistersKeeper'', where middle child Kate is given the most attention due to her cancer, leaving her older brother Jesse to become a delinquent and her younger sister Anna in question of herself.
* ''Literature/{{Forbidden}}'': Kit, of the Whitely children. They're aged 17, 16, 13, 8, 5. His eldest two siblings have been [[PromotionToParent Promoted to Parents]], while the little two are just children. As a result of his middle child syndrome by acting out. As his sister said:
-->''Personally, I have always suspected it is something far simpler: Kit doesn’t like the little ones getting all the attention for being small and cute, and Lochan and me telling everyone what to do, while he’s stuck in no-man’s-land, the archetypal middle child with no partner in crime.''
* Samantha in ''All-American Girl''. The younger sister of a beautiful, popular cheerleader and the older sister of a child prodigy genius, she has become the BlackSheep of the family, an artistic loner. Then she becomes the person to get the most attention when she saves the president from an assassination attempt (long story).
* Creator/JaneAusten:
** Inverted in ''Literature/SenseAndSensibility'', where the middle child Marianne is her mother's favorite.
** Played straight elsewhere in the Austenverse; in ''{{Pride and Prejudice}}'', there are five sisters. Everyone loves Jane, the eldest, who has the sweetest disposition and prettiest face. Elizabeth, second-eldest, is her father's favorite; Lydia, the youngest, is her mother's. Mary and Kitty, the third and fourth daughters respectively, enjoy no favoritism at all.
** In a meta sense, the middle Bingley child Louisa is the one who's frequently left out of adaptations. Eldest Charles is Jane's love interest, while youngest Caroline is a more memorable bitch.
* Invoked in the DeconstructorFleet fantasy novel ''Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming'', when Azazel decides that the middle son will be the most useful for his purposes because the middle son is the most neglected: The oldest son is the heir, and the [[YoungestChildWins youngest son goes on an adventure and thus becomes successful]], but the middle son enjoys neither kind of success.
* The Real Kids Readers book ''Molly in the Middle'' deals with Molly, her older sister Tina and younger sister Lucy. Molly's failed attempts to become the oldest, youngest, funniest, loudest, meanest, etc. take up most of the book until she realizes she is the "luckiest" because she doesn't get the disadvantages that come with being the oldest/youngest.
* ''Literature/HarryPotter'':
** Percy Weasley is the third brother in the Weasley clan. He's sort of the ButtMonkey in earlier books before he turns into a full JerkAss, especially where Fred and George are involved. Everybody admires Bill and Charlie, everybody finds Fred and George fun to be around, Ginny is respected for her ability as a witch (plus she's both the youngest and the only girl of the family) and Ron does get some respect as Harry's best friend and for his later heroics. Percy, on the other hand, doesn't get much attention. Even his boss, Barty Crouch, Sr., calls him by the wrong name ''to his face''! Percy is actually set up to be the favourite in book one ''but'' only because he was a prefect. He appears to be Molly's favourite, however the rest of his family don't seem to prefer him.
** Fred and George allude to this trope in the fifth book, where Molly coos over "everyone in the family" becoming prefects after Ron gets made one. The twins reminds Molly that she ignored them when she said this.
* Greg from ''Literature/DiaryOfAWimpyKid'' ''is'' this trope. How many times do you see Rodrick or Manny (usually Manny) getting the advantage over Greg? Because Rodrick is about 4 years older than Greg (and constantly getting in trouble) and Manny is a baby, they constantly get more attention. Debatably, this is one of the main premises of entire the series, especially the second and third books and movies.
* ''Literature/HalfMagic'' is about four siblings in the 1920s (from oldest to youngest, Jane, Mark, Katharine and Martha) finding a magic nickel that grants wishes by half (like if you wished for an ice-cream sundae, you'd get half an ice-cream sundae, etc.) Since Jane's the oldest, she calls the shots on everything. After Jane, Mark and Martha have already made wishes, gotten themselves into trouble, and figured out how to use the magic charm correctly, Jane pulls an I-get-to-have-the-first-wish after they get back home, and this is what happens:
-->'''Katharine''': I don't see why. You always get dibs on first 'cause you're the oldest, and grown-ups always pick Martha, 'cause she's the baby, and Mark has a wonderful double life with all this and being a boy, too! Middle ones never get any privileges at all! Besides, who hasn't had a wish of her own yet? Think back! ''(Previously, Jane had set a playhouse on fire, Martha had made their cat talk in half-understandable gibberish, and Mark had taken them to a desert.)''
* Abby from ''Literature/TheAmazingDaysOfAbbyHayes'' has this. Her older twin sisters Eva and Isabel constantly fight and excel in their chosen fields (sport and study, respectively), while her younger brother Alex excels in technological fields, meaning that Abby only gets attention if she goes out of her way to do so -- something she doesn't like doing. Not to mention, nobody actually takes any notice of Abby's skill with creative writing.
** It also turns up in the second book- Eva and Isabel get to go to the school fair by themselves, while Abby has to take Alex with her. Finally, she gets fed up enough to demand that rather than being used as the automatic solution for anything concerning Alex, she gets to ride to the fair with her friends instead. Everyone is very surprised at her demand.
** She also complains about it while writing about her wish for new rollerblades- Eva and Isabel, as the oldest siblings, get brand new rollerblades, and Alex, as the youngest, also gets new ones as the old ones won't fit. Abby, as the middle child, has to deal with the really shit castoffs.
* In "Confessions of a Closet Catholic," Justine, known as 'Jussy,' notes that her mother loves her older sister Helena best, her father loves her younger brother Jake best because he is a boy and her mother even loves the French poodle, Bijou, more than her. It is subverted in the end though when her mother tells her that she may understand Helena better because they are alike but she doesn't love her more.
* In "Oh boy !", Siméon (14 years) is the gifted student, Venise (5 years) is very beautiful, and Morgane (9 years) is "only" a clever girl. People who talk about the fate of the children (they're orphans by the beginning of the book) often forget she exists.
* In ''A Mango Shaped Space'', a psychiatrist chalks Mia's claims of hearing colors (a real disorder) up to this.
* Subverted in ''Literature/TheOutsiders'' where Sodapop is well-liked by his brothers and within their little group. However, this status causes him stress because he is the only mediator between his younger brother Ponyboy and his older brother Darry, who tend to have opposite personality traits and end up in arguments while Sodapop is laid-back and even-tempered.
* ''The Sisters Club'' played this perfectly straight with the middle sister, Stevie. Her older sister is the actress, and her younger sister is, of course, the cute one.
* In ''[[Literature/KushielsLegacy Kushiel's Dart]]'', Joscelin admits that this is the case of noble families who end up pledging a son to the Cassilines (think a cross of priests and bodyguards). The eldest stay because they are the heir to the domain. The youngest stay to comfort their mothers. It's then a middle son who ends up being pledged to the order.
* Isabelle from ''Literature/TheMortalInstruments'', is always raring to go into fights, not to mention she consistently dates boys her parents would hate. Jace says she does it to get attention, as she is not only the only girl but also the middle child.
* Subverted in ''Middle School Blues.'' Main character Cindy's new friend Margo complains that the middle is absolutely the worst place to be born, while Cindy herself is a youngest child and hates the fact that no matter what she does, one of her sisters has done it first. Another friend Helen complains that as the oldest, she's expected to be perfect and set an example for her youngest sibling, and Cindy's best friend Becca is an only child, meaning that her parents never leave her alone. The four come to the conclusion that being a teenager sucks no matter where you were born.
* Stamped all over the royal family's sons in ''[[Literature/RealmOfTheElderlings The Farseer]]'' trilogy. Eldest prince Chivalry was raised to rule, while youngest prince Regal is a RoyalBrat whose mother (the king's second wife) considers him the "true" heir because her family was higher-ranking than the first queen's and so he's "more royal" than his brothers. [[TheCoronerDothProtestTooMuch Chivalry's untimely death in a hunting accident]] sets the events of the trilogy in motion, and puts middle son Verity on the spot - nobody has expected anything of him except maybe to watch the borders for his older brother, and after being neglected so long he was fine with that.
* Aya in ''Literature/TanteiTeamKZJikenNote'' is stuck between Yuki, her honour-student elder brother, and Nako, her DitzyGenius little sister, and thus sees herself as plain. As she says it in episode 3 of the AnimatedAdaptation:
-->Smart, athletic and good-looking, my brother is my mom's pride and joy. And my cute, innocent sister, Nako... She's my mom's favourite. But I have friends, too, [[FriendlessBackground now]], I guess.
* Played completely straight in ''Literature/IfThereBeThorns.'' Cathy clearly favours handsome ballet star Jory and cute toddler Cindy (both are also blonde) over middle child Bart.
* Creator/RosemaryWells's character Nora who who debuted in the book [[http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x17hsk2_noisy-nora_shortfilms "Noisy Nora"]] is usually trying to get her parents attention. Since they are mostly taking care of their new baby brother. She would usually get her parents attention by making tons of noise such as slamming the door, or knocking the lamp down. This is also shown in the AnimatedAdaptation of ''WesternAnimation/TimothyGoesToSchool'' since Nora is one of the main characters. But not as much of the original book.
* Petrova of ''Literature/BalletShoes'' is the ShrinkingViolet of the bunch. Eldest Pauline is the pretty one and gets enough charisma to become an actress. Youngest Posy has enough dance talent to be trained exclusively by an accomplished ballerina. Petrova is the plain one who gets hardly any encouragement. Although in a twist, in the 2007 film adaptation, Petrova gets the most scenes with Garnie and is the one who is told about the family's situation - implying she might be Garnie's preferred daughter. She never gets reprimanded like the other two.
* In ''Literature/TheLionTheWitchAndTheWardrobe'', this was initially one of Edmund's many issues. Peter and Susan were "the older ones" and Lucy was babied as the youngest, while Edmund feels like he just gets in the way.

[[folder: Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'': Stannis Baratheon resents the fact that people in general have a much more favourable view of his older and younger brother. Robert gets most of the credit for winning the rebellion against the Mad King, while Stannis' contribution is hardly acknowledged. When the War of Five Kings begins, ''all'' of the Stormlands bannermen side with Renly even though Stannis is the lawful successor to the Iron Throne.
* Tommy on ''Series/BrothersAndSisters''. Extra angst in that while he is the oldest Walker ''son'', he is the middle of five (legitimate) children. His father William seemed to open hold his older sister Sarah's business skills in higher regard, bringing her in to run the family fruit company even though Tommy had worked there for years. He also showed varying degrees of resentment towards his other siblings, especially his troubled youngest brother Justin who he feels his parents coddled.
* Stephanie in ''Series/FullHouse'' even had an episode dedicated to her fear that she'd never be as good or loved as her sisters. She has a ImagineSpot where both DJ and Michelle upstage her at everything. (She became an astronaut, went to Mars, and ''learned to fly.'' She gets upstaged when DJ went to get the mail and Michelle ''blinked''.) She basically becomes [[DeadpanSnarker the snarky one]] in later years to deal with it, like Darlene below.
* Gary Ewing on ''Series/{{Dallas}}'' was this in spades. Oldest J.R. is the most like their father and inherited Ewing Oil, Bobby is the most beloved by the family and inherited family ranch Southfork. Gary, who was considered weak by his father, is routinely ignored and when his alcoholism gets bad enough in the backstory, is effectively cast out of the family. His parents later make amends but he still never plays any role in the family dynasty.
** When Jock Ewing died, and the sons met up for the will-reading, J.R. and Bobby each effectively got 50% of the estate while Gary and Jock's illegitimate son Ray just got a lump sum of some money (admittedly millions), but Gary wasn't even allowed access to it unless he could prove he wouldn't squander it.
* ''Series/TheBradyBunch'': Jan Brady is probably the TropeCodifier. Peter also has moments where he suffers a little ("Cyrano de Brady", for one). It's revealed that Alice suffered from this as well when she was growing up, allowing her to sympathize with Jan.
* ''Series/MalcolmInTheMiddle'': The eponymous Malcolm had this trope in spades.
** Except that Lois mistreats ''all'' her children, Malcolm just got it the worst because she actually ''cares'' about his future, due to his high IQ.
** Also played with, as of Jamie's birth, Reese and Dewey are middle children too, even though only Malcolm gets this treatment.
* President Bartlet's middle daughter Ellie clearly suffers something like this in ''Series/TheWestWing''; she and her father have a difficult relationship, but when pressed Bartlet will angrily deny that he loves one of his children less than the others.
** Interestingly, he also says that "she's always belonged to Abbey," implying that from his point of view, ''he's'' TheUnfavorite ''parent''. (They end up having a nice moment at the end of the episode, of course.)
*** Yeah, it seems to depend sort of who you're looking at. Zoey is Jed's favorite, but Ellie is Abbey's. Oldest daughter Liz, married to a guy the family can't stand and a bit of a StepfordSmiler, may in fact be the most neglected by the family.
** If you take the TrueCompanions of ''Series/TheWestWing'' to the full nuclear family extent, with President Bartlet and Leo as the parents, Josh is this trope — Toby is the oldest, the best adviser, the only one who's close to being Leo's equal. CJ is the only daughter, whom everyone depends on. Sam is the kind little brother who's always helpful. Charlie is the baby whom every one protects and adores. Set between CJ and Sam, Josh is very much the rambunctious troublemaker who is always being made fun of and scolded. Slightly subverted, however, by the fact that he's actually Leo's ''favorite''.
* Cory suffers from this every now and then in ''Series/BoyMeetsWorld''. More so early on, before Eric is cemented as the family screw-up and Morgan stops having any story or relevance whatsoever.
* In the beginning of ''Series/{{Charmed}}'', Piper suffers from this because Prue was hard working career woman and Phoebe was adventurous. She felt like the peacekeeper and the most normal one. After Prue died, Piper became the oldest and Phoebe became the middle. But, Phoebe still acted like the youngest and Paige acted like the middle child. Averted when their mother visits Piper on her wedding day and says "I always knew you'd be the first to get married. You're the heart of this family, Piper."
* Darlene from ''Series/{{Roseanne}}'' was overshadowed by both of her siblings: [[TheGloriousWarOfSisterlyRivalry beautiful and smart Becky]], and DJ who was both the baby and the only boy. This largely led to her [[SnarkKnight gothy and cynical]] demeanor. What subverts this trope, however, is that of the three Connor children, she was the most popular with viewers and had ample screentime as a result.
** However, this became averted in later seasons. When both Becky and Darlene were in those "Awkward Teenage Years" that sitcoms are so fond of, D.J. was the one who went out of focus, since he was the quiet Good Child and the parents were working so hard they could only afford to give the squeaky wheels the grease. At the end of one episode, he told his parents to their surprise that he hadn't spoken a single word in two days, and no one noticed. Sadly, we only caught a glimpse of DJ entering puberty, since the series ended when he was 14.
-->'''Roseanne''':He'd better start bitching and moaning like his sisters if he's gonna make it in this family.
* Sue in ''Series/TheMiddle''. And not ''just'' because she has a rather generic name while her siblings are named "Axel" and "Brick", but because, as she puts it in an episode, she's not a successful athlete like Axl nor "supersmart" like Brick. Both of her brothers tend to stand out for sports or intellectual abilities respectively.
** She calls Frankie out on this when she tries to get Sue to stop running for her cross country met so she could go to Axel's football game, though this argument is completely ineffective because absolutely everyone else had finished the run and went home hours ago and she was lost. Frankie then admits that she does care more for being there for Axels moments than Sues, but because she knows Sue will always show her love while Axel is a lazy teenager with an attitude who wants as little to do with his parents as possible and she just wants to be there for when he's most likely to let her be his mother again.
* Kerry in ''Series/EightSimpleRules''. She feels left out because a)her older sister is popular at school and has more responsibilities that their parents would like her to focus on more, and b)her only younger sibling is also the only son for their parents (their father in particular bonded with him more). Kerry isn't an entirely straight example of the trope however. Most of the season 1 episodes involve her father desperately trying to bond with her - while she Wangsts about being the Middle Child.
* ''Series/HopeAndFaith''
** Hayley is the middle child in between Sydney and Justin. In one episode she counts the amount of photos each child has in the family albums - and she has twenty less than the oldest and youngest siblings.
** With the revelation in Season 3 that they have a brother, Hope and Faith themselves invert the trope. Faith is the middle child now but is the central character of the show.
* ''Series/{{Reba}}'' presents for this trope Kyra, who's stuck between her older, more popular sister (who has a child of her own, most likely warranting more attention from their parents) and her only younger sibling -- the adorable one and only son. Needless to say, she's not happy about this.
** The last season more or less averts this, though, as Jake, the youngest child, falls out of focus and rarely appears while Kyra is still makes a few more appearances before disappearing as well.
* Addressed in one episode of ''Series/LifeWithDerek''.
* Kay Bennett on ''Series/{{Passions}}'' is one. In the shows early years she was always given the shaft by her parents in favor of her newly-discovered cousin Charity Standish and her younger sister Jessica (Noah, the oldest, was away in college.) At one point, her mom uses money Kay saved up for a car and gives it to Charity. She eventually moves out of the house and lives with resident witch Tabitha (who hates the Bennett/Standish family.)
* Lucy of ''Series/SeventhHeaven'' says that it's because she's the middle child that she's always left out.
* Edith Crawley on ''Series/DowntonAbbey'', has a pronounced case of this. With Mary being the glamorous daughter that everyone adores and Sybil being the kind-hearted baby of the family, Edith is left as the odd one out. In Season 2, she manages to break out of it somewhat when she becomes the favourite among the soldiers staying in the estate.
* Randy Taylor on ''Series/HomeImprovement'' was the middle child which led to his deadpan humor.
** His father Tim Taylor was also a middle child (though not the only one in the Taylor family) which may partially explain his constant attempts to impress others with '''[[TimTaylorTechnology MORE POWER]]'''. Because of this, one episode featured Tim and Randy having a talk where Tim acknowledges their similar personalities and reactions to things (such as the death of a loved one in that episode), as opposed to Tim and Brad's having similar interests.
* Leonard from ''Series/TheBigBangTheory''. While his mother refuses to recognize she's proud of the accomplishments of ANY of her children (after all they're not her accomplishments) Leonard gets it the worst. His older sister is close to curing diabetes, his brother is a successful lawyer that's engaged to an Olympian, while everyone harps on poor Leonard for "only" being a theoretical physicist and not doing "original research" but instead designing experiments for and validating the results of the work of others. He makes a point of not talking about his siblings much.
** Also [[{{DiscussedTrope}} discussed]] in an episode. Sheldon had [[{{ItMakesSenseInContext}} hired an actor to pose as his drug addict cousin to whose intervention he and Leonard had supposedly attended, in order to have an excuse so as not to go to Penny's concert]]. When discussing "the cousin's" backstory, Sheldon wants him to blame his addiction on being the middle child and not having gotten enough attention. The actor (also a scientist), however, doesn't think this is a valid reason because of the lack of research.
* Justified in that it explains why Alex from ''Series/WizardsOfWaverlyPlace'' does what she does (she's not only the middle child but a daughter), and inverted/lampshaded in the episode where Aunt Megan is introduced. (Jerry/Megan/Kelbo = Justin/Alex/Max.)
* ''Series/DoctorWho'' downplays this with Martha (one of the few companions who didn't suffer from OnlyChildSyndrome). While she's not TheUnfavorite in the family, she seems to have been stuck as the go-between for everyone else's issues; her first scene has her being bombarded with calls while on the way to work.
** She also, oddly enough, seems to have become stuck with a meta-version of this, as the middle companion of the Russel T. Davies era. Both fans and official media often seem to ignore her in favour of Rose and Donna, with only the occasional mention of her being the show's "first black companion" (which ignores Mickey). She has her fans of course, but they're not nearly as outspoken.
** Some of this is probably due to Martha being more of an original series type companion. She travels with The Doctor for a time and moves on when the time comes. Most of the other female companions of the new series have had some sort of special destiny in some way (Bad Wolf, Doctor Donna, The Girl Who Waited, The Impossible Girl).
* Andre from ''Series/{{Empire}}'' gets this despite being the eldest, because he comes from a family of musicians: dad Lucious is a rap legend, mom Cookie is a producer, middle brother Jamal is an R&B singer, youngest brother Hakeem is another rapper, and Andre...is an accountant. Granted, he's the CFO of his family's record company, but he's often overlooked in favor of his more musically-inclined brothers. Even the JacobAndEsau nature of his parents' relationship with his brothers lends itself to this trope; Lucious is grooming Hakeem to be his successor while at odds with Jamal for being gay, while Cookie is Jamal's manager and supports his endeavors but has a rocky relationship with Hakeem, who resents her for being [[MissingMom in prison]] when he was growing up. Andre, meanwhile, despite his professional accomplishments, is just "meh" in both his parents' eyes, which is quite literally driving him insane.
* ''Series/TheBrothersGarcia'' - Carlos the eldest is TheCharmer and ladies' man, the twins Lorena and Larry are the youngest and have status as the babies of the family (plus Lorena is the only girl). George is the middle son, in Carlos's shadow and usually follows him around. A couple of episodes show him trying to outdo Carlos.

* "What A Crazy World (We're Livin' In)" by skiffle singer Joe Brown plays this trope to the hilt.

[[folder: Newspaper Comics]]
* In ''ComicStrip/ForBetterOrForWorse'', Elizabeth feared this after April was born. Ironically, however, it was ''April'' who ultimately suffered the most from this, becoming neglected and overlooked because her parents felt ready to 'retire' from being parents -- and resented any reminder that they had a daughter who was still dependent on them.
** There actually is one special in which ''Elizabeth'' gets this in spades, from being brushed off to being blamed for April (who was still a toddler at the time) breaking Elly's favorite ornament. When Elizabeth goes sledding and gets lost; a woman named Grace actually ''inverts'' this trope by telling her that sometimes, the middle child gets the best ''because'' they don't bear the responsibility and and aren't ''always'' treated as a baby.
** The two older Patterson kids were based directly on Lynn Johnston's actual children. April is an entirely fictional character.
* Hammie in ''ComicStrip/BabyBlues''. See [[http://http://babyblues.com/comics/december-17-2006/ here]] and [[http://http://babyblues.com/comics/june-10-2009/ here.]]

[[folder: TabletopGames]]
* In the ''TabletopGame/{{Mystara}}'' setting's Karameikos, the royal family is an example. King Stephan favors his tomboyish daughter as heir to the throne, while his wife dotes on her youngest son and wants him to inherit. Their middle child -- the eldest son, hence the one most players would ''expect'' to be heir -- isn't favored by either parent, and indeed is more interested in business than government.
* Meta-example of a forgotten middle child: Every ''TabletopGame/{{Ravenloft}}'' fan in the world remembers Strahd von Zarovich and his youngest brother Sergei, as their CainAndAbel story is responsible for the setting's very existence. Mention their ''other'' brother Sturm, progenitor of the modern Von Zarovich bloodline, and most gamers assume you're talking about ''TabletopGame/{{Dragonlance}}''.

* Prince Geoffrey in ''Theatre/TheLionInWinter''. His father prefers younger brother [[UsefulNotes/KingJohnOfEngland John]] to inherit the throne; his mother prefers elder brother [[UsefulNotes/RichardTheLionheart Richard]]. Somewhat understandably, he develops ChronicBackstabbingDisorder.
-->'''Geoffrey''': No one ever thinks of crown and mentions Geoff, why is that?\\
'''King Henry II''': Isn't being chancellor power enough?\\
'''Geoffrey''': It's not the power I feel deprived of; it's the mention I miss. There's no affection for me here; you wouldn't think I'd want that, would you.
* ''Theatre/KingLear'' has three daughters. Goneril has some status as the oldest, while Cordelia is the youngest and is Lear's favourite. Middle sister Regan is constantly trying to outdo Goneril and get some status for herself.

[[folder: Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'', main character Hawke has two younger siblings: twins Carver (a warrior) and Bethany (a mage). Carver is technically the older twin and suffers this trope ''hard''. If Hawke is a mage, then their parents (including a mage father) focused more attention on the two magical siblings by necessity, leaving Carver feeling left out at times. If Hawke is a warrior/rogue, then it's heavily implied that Carver was never as good a fighter, and Bethany was Daddy's Girl due to their shared magical sense. Either way, Carver has a massive chip on his shoulder and his approval meter appropriately starts off on the "Rival" side.
* Donald in ''VisualNovel/MagicalDiary'' has this as his major issue. Depending on how the game goes he may decide he's sick of being a screw-up and seek a new identity of his own.
* Gorman evokes this trope during his drunken MotiveRant for leaving his brother's ranch for show business in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaMajorasMask''.
--> '''Gorman:''' Anyway, I'm just the despised second son! I can't handle horses like my older brother! I can't take care of horses like my younger brother! I left the ranch, came to know the world of show business, traveled around, but for what? For nothing!!!

[[folder: Web Comics]]
* Summer of ''Moon Over June'' grew up with three older brothers and three younger brothers. Scientific evidence holds that she probably would have grown up to be a lesbian anyway, but her family situation pushed her into [[DoesNotLikeMen an utter loathing of everything remotely male]].
* ''Webcomic/VenusEnvy'' has a variation mentioned in the scene where Zoe's brother is forced to talk to her psychiatrist. The psychiatrist theorises that Alex's coming out as {{Transgender}} and becoming Zoe has made her brother feel like he now has a younger sibling instead of an older one, as Zoe now needs more parental care and attention, and her brother can no longer look up to her as an older brother and mentor. The brother vehemently denies this, as "I never looked up to that freak".
* In ''Webcomic/{{MYth}}: A Promise'', Poseidon felt quite dull in comparation with Hades (his father's favorite) and Zeus (the new baby); his concern over not looking like his parents like Hades and Zeus do is a good way to demostrate it. Rhea calms him down over it saying that because of his brothers' differences, he needs to be the mediator between them and then indirectly reveals that ''he's her favorite''.

[[folder: Web Original]]
* Weiss from ''WebAnimation/{{RWBY}}'' was revealed to be a middle child in the fourth season, though previously her [[RememberTheNewGuy younger brother was never mentioned]]. Weiss is the heir of her family but is still stuck between her two siblings. The oldest sibling, Winter, doesn't have ParentalFavoritism (her father essentially disowned her due to disagreeing with her career path) however she is a strong, successful woman and a CoolBigSis to Weiss. Weiss' BitchInSheepsClothing younger brother Whitley is the favorite child [[spoiler:and inherits her title as heir]]. This leaves Weiss stuck in an awkward position as the teenager who's trying to make a name for herself besides being a Schnee.

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Animaniacs}}'': Yakko is the oldest and is often TheLeader of the siblings (it's him who becomes King of Anvilania). Dot likewise is the only girl and gets a lot of attention as TheCutie. Wakko meanwhile is the CloudCuckooLander, with an inexplicable British accent (something his brother and sister don't have), who usually just goes along with what the other two do - although it's he who is the instigator of the BigDamnMovie (named "Wakko's Wish" too). The trope is alluded to in one episode when Wakko tries to walk down an upward-moving escalator.
-->'''Yakko:''' Middle kid syndrome.
* While ''WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls'' are triplets and, thus, the same age, Buttercup still falls right into Middle Child Syndrome by being noticeably brattier than Blossom and Bubbles, who in turn behave like an Oldest and Youngest Child respectively. According to the DVDCommentary for TheMovie, this is because while Blossom and Bubbles got {{Meaningful Name}}s, Buttercup got saddled with her name just for the sake of AddedAlliterativeAppeal.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'': Lampshaded by Lisa: "Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday overlooked middle child, happy birthday to me." Which is strange because a lot of episodes show she's a likely candidate as Homer's favorite (He takes her places she likes that he finds boring, helped out with her soccer team, stuff like that). For him, Maggie is more this trope, since there are times he even forgets she exists.
* ''WesternAnimation/AlvinAndTheChipmunks'': Simon, despite being the tallest, smartest and most mature of the Chipmunks, is the middle child. Even though Alvin is shorter and the most rambunctious, he is actually the oldest. One episode of the 80's series has Simon feeling he doesn't get as much attention because Alvin is a troublemaker and Theodore is a crybaby; eventually David tells him that he loves them equally but Simon doesn't need as much attention because he's the most mature of them and knows better than they do.
* On ''WesternAnimation/{{Daria}},'' the title character's mom [[TheWorkaholic Helen]] was the middle child, and apparently became an over-achiever to get attention. {{Deconstructed}}, however, when her sisters reveal that they think of ''her'' as [[ParentalFavoritism the favorite]], since she was always off winning awards "to make us look lazy."
** In a [[AllThereInTheManual tie-in book]], Jodie's younger sister Rachel seems to have this problem: her older sister is an ExtracurricularEnthusiast ([[EducationMama unwillingly]]), and she recently gained a little brother who took away her status as the "baby" of the family.
* Lampshaded in ''WesternAnimation/TheTick'': Wannabe-superhero Baby Boomerangutan is a man dressed as an orangutan who carries three baby dolls he can throw at evildoers. The middle child (which he explicitly calls as such) is only employed in dire emergencies because it's stuffed with explosives.
* Sometimes invoked with Gene on ''WesternAnimation/BobsBurgers''.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheLoudHouse'' focuses on Lincoln, who's not only [[OutnumberedSibling the only boy]] out of [[MassiveNumberedSiblings eleven siblings]], but smack-dab in the middle to boot, with five older and five younger sisters.
* Averted in ''WesternAnimation/WeBareBears'' with Panda being TheBabyOfTheBunch as he's constantly being coddled or protected by is older brother Grizz or [[BigLittleBrother younger brother]] Ice Bear.
* ''WesternAnimation/DuckTales2017'': With Huey being the responsible and reliable oldest brother, and Louie being the youngest brother who always needs to have someone keeping an eye on him to keep him out of trouble, that leaves Dewey being mostly indistinguishable from his siblings. That results in him being the most outgoing, the most willing to make new friends, and the most boldly adventurous of the triplets.