Outnumbered Sibling

Image by markmak. Used with permission.

"I always wanted a brother. Hey!" [gets a face full of paint]
"Instead, I got stuck with two sisters."
Arthur, Arthur, "The Perfect Brother"

The outnumbered sibling occurs when a character (either the protagonist or at least a major character) is the only son or daughter in a family with three or more children. This can result in the character hoping and praying for a sibling of their gender, Parental Favoritism either for or against the character, and the character feeling either superior or inferior to the rest. There are few different places to put the only son daughter:
  • Oftentimes, they're either the oldest or the youngest kid in their family.
  • If they're the middle child, it's one of the more common aversions to Middle Child Syndrome since they stand out by virtue of their gender.

Often (but not always) a subtrope of Massive Numbered Siblings, since a family of three doesn't make this trope particularly interesting. See also The Smurfette Principle, The One Guy and I Have Brothers. Often appears in a character's Back Story even if it isn't depicted in the plot.

Highly expect Annoying Younger Sibling and/or Big Brother Bully to come into play and for creators to throw in a Missing Mom (for a girl) or a Disappeared Dad (for a boy) for added effect. Extreme cases may include a Promotion to Parent as well.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Sister Princess. An orphan named Wataru Minakami discovers that he has 13 sisters, one of whom is The Mole, and not actually one of his sisters.
  • Quatre Raberba Winner of Gundam Wing is the youngest child of his family and has twenty-nine sisters. The catch is that all of his sisters are test-tubes babies due to difficulties with childbirth in space among early space colonists; Quatre was the only child born naturally, although his mother died during childbirth and the fact that he wasn't artificially reproduced was kept secret from him. However, Quatre is shown to dearly love his sisters and it is the near-death of his favorite older sister Iria (along with the death of his father) which drives poor Quatre over the edge.
  • Ice Revolution Misaki became an extreme tomboy growing up as the only girl in a family of extremely macho martial artists. However, she does not come into conflict with any of them until she decides she wants to take up the "girly" sport of figure skating. Even then it serves more as backstory than a plot point.
  • Maomarimo: Mao has three older sisters: Sakuya, Kaguya, and Ako, his more outgoing elder twin. Ironically, he demonstrates more stereotypically feminine traits (particularly Cute Clumsy Girl, Shrinking Violet, and Feminine Women Can Cook) than the three of them put together.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura: Syaoran has four older sisters. All of whom are obsessed with cute things. He does not seem thrilled about it.
  • Otomen: The author of Lovetic, believed by all readers to be a girl, is a boy with several little sisters. Ten to be exact.
  • Alto Krauetta of Lyrical Nanoha, whose family comprised three brothers. The lack of any female influence in her early life led to her thinking that she was a boy until an incident involving the school toilet when she was seven.
  • Nagisa from Free! has three older sisters who were very fond of dressing him up when he was younger.
  • Bleach: Soifon was the youngest of six siblings, and the only girl. She was also the only successful sibling. All five of her brothers died quickly without amounting to much and she only remembers them with a feeling of shame at their failure. Her talent was recognised quickly; within seven years she was commanding the court guards and earned her great-grandmother's code-name "Soifon", before eventually becoming both a Gotei 13 captain and Supreme Commander of the Secret Remote Squad.
  • The ILLUSTRIOUS ARMSTRONG FAMILY from Fullmetal Alchemist consists of four daughters and one son, Alex, who is the second youngest. He has the most prominent role in the story out of all of them, being a recurring character from the beginning, but his oldest sister Olivier does eventually step in to play an important role as well. Their youngest sister, Catherine, only appears briefly, and their other sisters, Amue and Strongine, are almost entirely All There in the Manual.

    Comic Books 
  • Hope O'Dare from Starman has four brothers. She and her brothers are all cops and it's mentioned that she is the one everyone is frightened of.
  • Princeless: Devin has seven sisters.
  • In The Smurfs Papa Smurf has 100 sons but just one daughter, Smurfette. Later, the Smurfs create another sister called Sassette.
    • In The Smurfs 2, Gargamel creates a sister for Smurfette in the form of Vexy.
  • Brave Chef Brianna: Brianna has 15 brothers and no sister.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Legend of Frenchie King: Maria has four brothers who she bosses around. They, in turn, are men children and intimidated by her.
  • A Little Rascals short, Our Gang, illustrates this trope with a hint of Values Dissonance. Mickey is picked on by his two sisters and hopes that the baby his mother is pregnant with is a boy. Somebody tells him that every fourth child in the world is born Chinese. He's upset by the idea of having a Chinese younger brother but eventually comes to accept it. Unfortunately from his point of view, his mother gives birth to another girl.
  • Roberta from Now and Then had three older brothers and no sisters. The brothers are only briefly seen but it explains (at least to a certain extent) why she's such a tomboy.
  • Adam Sandler's character in Punch-Drunk Love.

  • In A Brother's Price Jerin (who does have brothers) is asked by his new friend Cullen how it is to have other men in the house. Cullen's father apparently died early, leaving him the only male in the whole family. Due to male Gender Rarity Value, this is quite normal in the setting, a family with more than one boy is considered extremely lucky. The Whistler family's neighbours, the Brindles, have thirty daughters and one son, and other people think they should just stop trying for another son, as they soon won't be able to feed all their children anymore.
  • In Dragon Bones, Ciarra has two brothers, two male cousins, and no sisters or female cousins. This becomes even more extreme when Ward sort of adopts Oreg into the family, a distant relative, who seems to be seventeen. This is good for her in that she has three protective older brothers, but when she meets another young woman, Tisala, it becomes obvious that she enjoys the opportunity to talk to another girl very much. Despite Ciarra being a Cute Mute, the two of them manage to talk to each other about how enervating Ward's behaviour can be, as Tisala is one of the few people who understand Ciarra's sign language intuitively.
  • Ginny Weasley of the Harry Potter series takes this to a bit of an extreme. Not only is she the only girl in a family of seven children, Word of God she's also the first girl born to the Weasley family in several generations.
  • Mark in Edward Eager's Half Magic and Magic by the Lake. He is the only boy in a family of four children and his frustration with this is occasionally a plot point.
  • Vorkosigan Saga:
    • Ekaterin has several older brothers and no sisters, and this is mentioned as being common among Barrayarans of her generation as the result of newly-obtainable sex-selection technology. In contrast to all the tomboyish examples of this trope, she specifically mentions this as being part of the reason why she's a Shrinking Violet. Ekaterin later deliberately averts this in her own marriage to Miles with two sets of twins followed by one girl to balance her eldest son Nikki Vorsoisson.
    • In an earlier example, Drou Koudelka was the only girl in her family with several older brothers and a Missing Mom. She's as close to a Tomboy as Barrayaran society allows. This leads her to become a planetary martial arts champion and eventually the personal bodyguard bodyguard/nanny to the child emperor Gregor.
  • Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter Rabbit.
  • In the Malloreon, Belgarion and his wife are long-lived, and it has been prophesied that he would only have one son. This trope hasn't fully taken effect at the end of The Seeress of Kell (and the birth of Belgarion's second daughter), but it's confirmed by the Purpose of the Universe itself to be on the way.
  • Jenna Heap from Septimus Heap is the only girl in a family with seven boys, and the youngest child as well.
  • Posy from The Hunger Games has three older brothers.
  • Jesse in Bridge to Terabithia feels alienated due to having four sisters, no brothers, and a disapproving father.
  • Suze Simon from The Mediator goes from an only child to having three step-brothers when her mother remarries.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Margaery Tyrell is the youngest child and the only girl, having three older brothers. Despite that, she plays the part of a Princess Classic perfectly.
    • Asha Greyjoy is the sole female Greyjoy sibling. She had two older brothers who died in the Greyjoy Rebellion, and one younger brother (Theon) who is still alive. Her status as the only girl is further emphasized by the misogynistic, paternalistic culture of the Iron Islands.
    • Cersei Lannister is the only girl among two brothers. However, Tyrion's status as The Unfavorite ascertains that she never felt "outnumbered".
      • In another House Lannister example, Genna Lannister (Tywin's sister) was the only girl among four brothers.
    • The Martells have Elia and her niece Arianne, both the only girl with two brothers in their respective generations.
    • Lyanna Stark grew up with two older brothers and one younger one, and was a Hot-Blooded Passionate Sports Girl to match.
    • Sansa Stark has two older brothers, two younger brothers, and a younger sister, but feels alienated all the same because Arya is extremely tomboyish. Emphasized when her narration mentions she'd always wanted a sister like Margaery.
  • Isabelle Lightwood from The Mortal Instruments grew up with two brothers and Jace.
  • Malory Towers has Bill, who grew up with seven brothers and turns out to be very boyish. Alicia also has three brothers, and is quite an unladylike prankster, but this fact is not highlighted as much as Bill's circumstances is.
  • Zigzagged in Half Magic. The family has three sisters and one brother, who does grumble a bit from time to time, but the person who seems to take things the hardest is the middle sister Katherine: "Jane's the oldest, Martha's the baby, Mark's the only boy - I'm the one who gets ignored all the time!"

    Live-Action TV 
  • Tends to be mentioned as the background of tough female cops, such as Jane Penhaligan from Cracker and Kate Todd from NCIS. The idea being that their reason for seeking to compete in an all-male world is from attitudes gained in their childhood.
  • Another "tough female cop" example is Jo Lupo from Eureka.
  • Game of Thrones: Lyanna is the only female of Ned's siblings.
  • Yet another is Teresa Lisbon from The Mentalist, although she mentions a few times that she practically raised them after their mother died, so the existence of traditional sibling rivalry is questionable.
  • In the Dollhouse episode "The Target", Echo's persona is implied to have this in her fake backstory; when Boyd asks her if she knows how to use a gun, she replies with, "Four brothers, none of them Democrats."
  • Joey from Friends has seven sisters and he's the only male.
  • Theo Huxtable from The Cosby Show is the middle child and only son of five kids—however, he seemed relatively okay with having four sisters despite having to deal with the usual sibling stuff (such as a shortage of bathroom time).
  • This is the basic premise behind the shortlived sitcom Odd Man Out: a teenage boy is shown to be the youngest and only son of four kids.
  • Daphne from Frasier has... what is it? Six brothers? She talks about them a lot.
  • The family in Just The Ten Of Us consists of six daughters and only two sons. And one of the boys is a toddler.
  • Land of the Lost (1991): The Sorceress had several brothers. When Annie asked her how she survived, she said she turned them into toads. Annie entertained the thought of doing it to Kevin.
  • Wyatt from Crash and Bernstein was this to his 3 sisters, until he created Crash, and Crash came to life.
  • Lindsay Bluth from Arrested Development is the only daughter out of 4 siblings. She's adopted, though.
  • Luke from Modern Family has two older sisters and no brothers. Therefore, he's often left out entirely from episodes that revolve around the Sibling Yin-Yang between Haley and Alex. He seems to find surrogate brothers in his dad and Manny (his step-uncle, who's also a kid in his class at school). Later, and to a lesser degree, he finds another surrogate brother in his uncle Mitchell, who wants to adopt a second child but is unsure if he'd be a good parent to a boy, and decides to try out with Luke, but ends up doing all the rebellious "boy" stuff he missed out on in his own childhood instead.
  • Karen from Outnumbered is the youngest of three and the only girl. Comes up once or twice, though ironically it's usually her mother Sue who gets a sudden urge to have a "girly day" away from the boys; Karen is quite capable of holding her own against her brothers, Jake and Ben.
  • Magnificent Century: Mihrimah Sultan is the only girl of six siblings. She has five brothers: an elder half-brother and brother—Şehzade Mustafa and Şehzade Mehmet—and three younger brothers—Şehzade Selim, Şehzade Bayezid, and Şehzade Cihangir.
  • Peaky Blinders: Of if the five Shelby siblings, Ada is the only girl, with brothers Arthur, Tommy, John, and Finn.
  • Borgia: Lucrezia is the only girl of four siblings. She has three brothers: Juan, Cesare, and Goffredo. However, since we rarely see little Goffredo, it usually looks more like the only girl in three, making it kind of a moot point.
  • Cake Boss: Buddy Valastro, the titular "Cake Boss" is the youngest and only son out of five kids. His daughter, Sofia, is the oldest and only daughter of four kids. Buddy's nephew, Bartolo "Buddy" Castano, is the youngest and only son of three kids.
  • 7th Heaven differs from most of these because, originally, the family has two sons and three daughters; however, oldest son Matt is already an adult by his mom's last pregnancy, leaving the younger son, Simon, afraid that the new baby will be a girl and he'll be stuck alone in the house with four sisters. Ultimately, Annie winds up having twin boys.
  • The Originals: Claire Holt's character Rebekah Mikaelson, the second youngest of 6 and the only girl spent a thousand years that way until her long lost sister Freya was introduced.
  • Roseanne: Youngest child DJ was the only boy out of the Conner children, and he was often overlooked by writers in favor of The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry between Becky and Darlene. Even when Becky was temporarily Put on a Bus, Darlene still garnered more attention due to her on-and-off relationship with David. Dan and Roseanne did eventually have another son, Jerry Garcia Conner, though it's left vague whether Jerry actually existed or was part of the book Roseanne wrote to get over the death of Dan.

  • Bill from The Who song "I'm a Boy" is saddled with three sisters and a mother who acts as if he was a girl as well.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In The Bible, Jacob has twelve sons and one daughter, Dinah. Though in some Jewish sources each of the sons, and Dinah, came with a twin sister.
    • When Jacob's family migrates to Egypt, the Bible takes the time to mention all of his descendants. Apparently, all of his fifty-plus grandchildren were boys except one: Serach, who is called "the sister of Asher's sons" (which some interpret to mean a half-sibling who wasn't Asher's birth daughter anyway). We later hear about another granddaughter, Jochebed the daughter of Levi, who may not have been born until they were in Egypt.
    • It's worth noting that, since the Bible was concerned with tracing ancestries and Lineage Comes from the Father, daughters aren't always mentioned even when they exist. (For example, we're told David had more than one daughter, but only Tamar is listed with his sons.)

  • Titus Andronicus had 25 sons and one daughter. 'Had' is an important word here: as the play starts he has only five children left, and the number is falling fast.

    Video Games 
  • Wendy O. Koopa is the only girl of the Koopalings in the Super Mario Bros. games.
  • In the Warcraft universe, the three Windrunner sisters have a brother named Lirath who died in the Second War.
  • On a slightly lesser scale, a female Dwarf Noble in Dragon Age: Origins has an older brother and a younger brother.

    Web Comics 
  • Jyrras from Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures has six older (and much larger) sisters who tend to treat him as a living doll. In his words, "Hell is full of estrogen."
  • Summer Winters from Moon Over June traces her misandry to growing up with three older brothers and three younger brothers.
  • Surama from Wurr has four brothers and no sisters, and three of them are older than her.
  • Jinx from The Whiteboard has eight sisters.
  • Storm from Monstra who, despite being the second oldest in his vampire family, is the only son in family of five girls.
  • Joyce from the Walkyverse is the little girl of her family, outnumbered by her five brothers. This is explored a bit in Dumbing of Age where, although she only has three siblings, she laments on one strip that she didn't grow up with any sisters. Eventually subverted, as one of her "brothers" turns out to be a trans girl, Jocelyne, making them an even two-to-two split. Joyce's reaction to this information has yet to be shown on the strip.

    Web Original 
  • Jaune in RWBY grew up with seven sisters.

    Western Animation 
  • Sharon Spitz and Alden Jones from Braceface are both this—Sharon's the middle child and only daughter of three kids (Adam is her older brother and Josh is her younger brother) while Alden's the youngest and only son of four kids (his three older sisters are named Daisy, Violet and Lily).
  • The Sumowski clan from Clarence. Sumo's got ten brothers and one sister.
  • Odd Della Robbia from Code Lyoko has five older sisters who like to pick on him.
  • In Drawn Together, one Asian child laborer complains that Spanky's use of Ling-Ling in making shoes is making it hard for him to feed his 48 brothers and one sister.
  • Wendy from Gravity Falls is the oldest and only daughter of four children.
  • Word of God states that Stumpy the squirrel from Kaeloo has 36 sisters, and he's the only boy in the family.
  • Shego from Kim Possible has four brothers, who all have super powers as well. The five of them form Team Go, but Shego eventually quit, partly due to finding the dark side more enticing but mostly due to getting fed up with her brothers, or at least her brothers, Hego and Mego—she may get along better with the Wego twins.
  • Just like Theo Huxtable above, Lincoln Loud is the middle child and only son in his family—however, Lincoln has 2.5-times as many sisters as Theo does (meaning that he's the only son of eleven kids). Showing what Lincoln has to go through with being the only son in such a large family (as well as what he and his sisters have to go through due to coming from such a large family) are two of the main themes of the show.
    • There was also an episode where Lincoln was briefly sent to a dimension where there were genderbent-versions of not only himself, but all ten of his sisters—meaning that Linka Loud (Lincoln's female counterpart) was the middle child and only daughter in a family with ten sons named Loki (Lori), Loni (Leni), Luke (Luna), Lane (Luan), Lynn (now a boy), Lars (Lucy), Leif (Lana), Lexx (Lola), Levi (Lisa) and Leon (Lily).
  • Bart's the oldest and only son of three children on The Simpsons. While their family isn't "big," per se, Bart occasionally feels lonely with being the only son. In one episode, where he becomes jealous of the bond that Lisa and Maggie have, he sets out to try and find a little brother. At one point in the episode, he goes to a local orphanage and gets a boy from there to be his temporary "brother." At first, Bart tried tricking his parents into making a fourth child, but gave up on this when Marge pointed out that even if she and Homer did end up having another baby (which they don't want to happen), the baby may end up being another girl instead of a boy—the idea of having three sisters scared Bart. In the end, the orphan boy Bart befriended ends up being adopted by a family with six daughters, who're likely to make him understand what Syaoran feels.
  • Lor from The Weekenders is her parent's only daughter and has so many brothers that she actually loses count of just how many there are.
  • Arthur's paternal grandmother, Thora, is the youngest and only daughter of four kids, while Arthur (just like Bart Simpson) is the oldest and only son of three kids.