Skeeter: Shoot me, Gonzo! Scooter: Me first, I'm older! Skeeter: Only by a minute! — Muppet Babies
Twins often argue, among themselves or with others, about the respect they are due because of age, even though the difference is minuscule. In the most common form, Twin A will attempt to give their side leverage by saying that he/she is oldest, which will cause Twin B to retort "Yeah, by five minutes" and therefore defuse such an argument. If it fails to defuse it, it can easily spiral into an Argument Of Contradictions, since neither side will generally have any actual proof.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
In Naruto, Hiashi Hyuga was born seconds before Hizashi. The difference is especially crucial in the Hyuga clan, as Hiashi grew up to become head of the clan, while Hizashi was made into a branch house member and expected to obey Hiashi and give his life to protect him... or so Neji thought, under threat of his cursed seal activating and causing him pain or killing him.
Gundam SEED: When Cagalli tells Athrun she's glad to have Kira for a little brother, he teasingly asks her if he might not be her big brother instead. She grumpily insists that she was born first.
Inverted in Lucky Star. Tsukasa tells Kagami it's good she's older, because it would be bad for an older sister to need so much help with schoolwork from the younger. Kagami tells her it's bad anyway.
Despite being twins, Unsui of Eyeshield 21 is referred to as the "elder brother" quite often. It's partially because he acts the part, often taking responsibility for his "younger brother's" actions, despite the fact that they're the same age. Agon could be seen as an extreme (and violent) version of the Annoying Younger Sibling trope.
In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, the Numbers cyborgs type numbers do not represent their actual birth order; Sette (Type VII), is the youngest of them, while Dieci (Type X) is older than several others. As a result, Quattro (Type IV) is annoyed that Cinque (Type V) being technically older due to being born first, and refers to her as she would a younger sibling. In Sound Stage X and Vivid, Nove is somewhat unwilling to accept that she's Subaru's younger sister after her adoption.
Vash and Knives' screwed-up relationship in Trigun contains shades of this. Since no one was actually watching when they were born and their mother couldn't talk even if she hadn't apparently suffered Death by Childbirth, they don't know who's older. They're also theoretically speaking English, even though they're actually speaking Japanese, and since the normal Japanese words for brother require knowledge of birth order they use the vague and slightly standoffish term 'kyoudai,' or 'sibling' most of the time. Knives appears to have appointed himself older in a lot of their interactions, but when they were kids this role (in the manga) very slightly defaulted to Vash, and he has the responsibility to 'take care of Knives.'
Their arguments about whether to kill off the human race etc. all boil down partly to a debate about which twin has more authority over the other. Being psychotic and incapable of self-doubt has given Knives the more forceful personality, but Vash is at bottom tougher. It never actually is settled; even after Vash wins the clash of philosophies and Knives accepts his loss, he takes up a 'watching over you' role while he waits to die that suits an elder brother better.
Anime Knives is pretty definitely finagling the elder role from the start, though, although they do still use 'kyoudai.' Vash even seems to have accepted his authority for a couple of years after the Fall, before flipping out that Knives is still on his Kill All Humans kick, shooting him in the leg, and running. This has led to a split understanding in the fanbase.
Liza and Tate from the Pokémon anime have this dynamic, with Tate suffering a bit of an inferiority complex considering how Liza holds her seniority (and the fact that she continuously pummels him in battles) over him.
Used in the movie Hangman's Curse.
Variant: the French musical Les Demoiselles de Rochefort has the younger twin calling the other "old girl," leading the other to reply:
Solange: Just because I was born fifteen minutes earlier doesn't mean you can call me "old girl!"
The seniority of rank example also occurs in the 1964 film Zulu, between Lieutenant Chard and Lieutenant Bromhead. This might have been the origin for the Voyager example.
Variation: A deleted scene from The Boondock Saints includes the main characters trying to get their mother to tell them which of them is older, presumably so they will then be able to use this trope. Eventually she tells them, "The one with the bigger cock!"
Sweet Valley High: "Elizabeth was 4 minutes older than Jessica, but sometimes it felt more like 4 years..."
When the Auditors of Reality obtain bodies in Thief of Time, they begin to argue about who incarnated first because "seniority is seniority".
Averted in the Star Trek novel Probe, which features Romulan twins Jaina and Dejan. Dejan likes to refer to Jaina as his "Little Sister" despite the fact that she's actually the older twin. Jaina doesn't seem to mind, despite the fact that according that that book, being the older of a set of twins is a very big deal in Romulan culture.
And in Peter David's Star Trek: TNG novel "Vendetta", Picard's old Academy classmate Morgan Korsmo tries to give him orders because he got his captain's pips a few weeks before Picard.
Artemis: I'm fine, Apollo. And I am not your little sister.
Apollo: Hey, I was born first.
Artemis: We're twins! How many millennia do we have to argue—
The Chronicles of Narnia, The Horse and His Boy. King Loon explains that Prince Cor, rather than his twin brother Prince Corin is first in line to succession, because he's the elder by 20 minutes. Inverted because Corin is quite happy about this while Cor is not.
The Bible: Jacob and Esau squabbling over who is the rightful heir. Esau ends up giving it to Jacob for a "mess of pottage" (lentil soup).
Averted in Heinlein's The Rolling Stones, where the twins Castor and Pollux jokingly address one another as "Grandpa" and "Junior".
Subverted with a double twist in Sea Legs, a children's novel by Alex Shearer. Eric and Clive are twins, though not identical ones, and Clive is perfectly willing to admit that he was born second but only, he insists, because Eric shoved him out of the way when they were being born. At the end of the novel, the midwife who was there when Eric and Clive were born pays a visit and reveals that she had gotten them mixed up, that it was actually Clive who was born first. Becoming the eldest changes Clive's perspective on life.
A rare non-sibling example found in Star Trek: Voyager: Paris tried to order Torres to do something. Torres refuses on the grounds that they're the same rank, so Paris plays the seniority card. Torres immediately points out that he only has about a week over her. (Paris also points out that he's a bridge officer and she isn't.)
Data and Lore in Star Trek: The Next Generation, androids created with the same physical template, both argue that seniority gives them precedence. (Lore had lied and said Data was the older twin.)
And a rare non-twin example: On Soap, there is an exchange between Jessica and Mary where they're trying to decide which one is the older sister. They definitely remember that they're a year apart, but each one seems to think that they're the younger one. (Remember, they're at a point in their lives where younger is better — both of them are grandmothers by the end of the show's run.)
On All Together Now, Anna comments on how she is fifteen minutes older than Thomas and wonders if she kicked him in the head on the way out.
An episode of Pair Of Kings plays with this; Brady claims to be the older twin, prompting Boomer to go to an oracle to find proof.
Used at the beginning of the Peabody-winning drama "Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom."
Inverted in Final Fantasy VI, where Sabin affectionately calls his twin Edgar "big brother", the imprecision of which is Lampshaded by the other characters. Further toyed with in that Sabin, due to his years of training in the wilderness, is way bigger physically than his pampered royal brother.
Yuri and Chelink in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates have this argument constantly, with Chelinka insisting that Meeth told her she's a couple minutes older.
In Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, Stella is older than Loretta and tends to take on a larger share of authority and responsibility. At the end of the game, while Stella tells her father that it was an older sister's duty to bear the responsibility, he tells her not to overdo her role before passing on. When Stella collapses sobbing, Loretta tells her that she will become stronger so she can take more of the burden and Stella will not have to suffer as much.
In No More Heroes, we find out that Travis and Henry are twin brothers; however, it is not discussed until the sequel (in an overly long answering machine message) that Henry is supposedly the older twin, something Travis is quick to make a snarky remark on:
Travis: Big brother? How do you know I didn't pop out first?
Dragon Quest VIII: Twins Cash and Carrie try to use this on each other. The problem is, since they were both adopted, neither knows who the older sibling is.
Completely averted in Super Mario Bros. Whenever he's not a Heroic Mime like his brother, Luigi is more than happy to address Mario as "Big bro" or something similar. Particularly noticeable in Super Paper Mario's epilogue, where it's the very first thing you read.
Fatal Frame 2 doesn't have a squabble among the twins themselves, but confusion over which is older is a major plot point. Technically speaking, Mayu is the elder twin, and Mio refers to her as "onee-chan", as one would expect from the younger sister. The ritual the two have gotten pulled into by the ghosts of the Lost Village dictates that the elder twin strangles the younger as part of the sacrifice. It turns out that All God's Village subscribed to an old belief that the elder twin was the one who was born later, as a good elder sibling would let their younger sibling go first to make sure they're okay. The twist ending then is that it is Mio who ends up strangling Mayu.
Jan: Jace, we're twins. You're only two minutes older than me. Jace: A guy can learn a lot in two minutes!
Inverted on The Simpsons, when Selma laments Patty's good fortune in being "two minutes younger" and thus presumably more desirable to men than Selma herself.
Rugrats: Lil is 2 minutes older than Phil, continued to come up in arguments in All Grown Up.
Dragon Tales took this to the extreme, with one head of a two-headed dragon popping out of the egg two seconds before the other.
In one episode of Kim Possible, Dr. Director's evil (fraternal) twin is four minutes older, and blames his megomaniacal ambitions on the fact she didn't defer to him as a kid.
Gemini: Four minutes, four years, the point is I am the older brother and she never respected that!
Avoided by Kim's twin brothers, strangely enough.
Scooter and his sister Skeeter arguing above, over who gets filmed by a camera the kids are playing with in Muppet Babies.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold "The Malicious Mr. Mind!" Mary Marvel argues that Billy Batson is only older than her in superhero form, otherwise she's older than him by three seconds.
In The Powerpuff Girls, Blossom always takes charges and generally acts older than her sisters, Buttercup has typically the behaviour of the somewhat overlooked middle-child, and Bubbles acts like the baby of the three. In spite of the fact that there is no age-gap between them at all.
Seven Little Monsters: One frequently asserts authority (or at least attempts to) by saying she's the oldest. Someone (usually Four) almost always snarks that she's only the oldest by a few seconds. One's typical response is, "And oh what a difference those few seconds make."
In Tales From The Cryptkeeper,Prince Charming is No Hero to His Valet like whoa. Who is his valet? His "younger" brother, who is actually a twin but doesn't get the inheritance or status due to not being the first one to pop out. "Ten seconds! Ten lousy seconds!!" is his Catch Phrase, usually uttered when his bro does something Jerkass-ish (which is often.) He refuses to call him Prince Charming, as well - the prince's real name is Chuck.
According to the Camp Lazlo episode, "Irreconcilable Dungferences", Skip is three seconds older than Chip, while Chip is three seconds smarter than Skip.
An interview with the band Tokio Hotel, which includes identical twins:
Interviewer: Now I notice in the [CD] liner notes, I think Tom, you say "my younger brother"? Tom Kaulitz: Yeah, I'm 10 minutes older! Bill Kaulitz: Yeah, he's so proud of it! So, please. 10 minutes? Oh wow.