The nasty end of Parental Favoritism. Where there's an Alpha wolf, there's got to be an Omega. When there is a first banana, there is a second banana. This is the person in the family who can't get a break. For example, this is the child who's the big let-down to their parents, the daughter that was supposed to be a son (or vice-versa), the child the parents had by accident when they'd already decided they didn't need another mouth to feed. But all in all, this is basically the kid who is always getting the short-end of the stick.
A regular line that may be entailed with this is a variant of, "Honestly, (insert name), why can't ya be more like (insert favourite's name)?"
Frequently, being The Unfavourite is a Freudian Excuse for a character who's a particularly pathetic loser. If the Parental Favoritism was garden variety (or even a product of his/her imagination), PG-rated Wangst, this is probably being played for comedy, a weak excuse for being a failure. If the favoritism was particularly vicious, however, up to and including abuse, The Unfavourite becomes a more tragic character — most probably The Woobie. Sometimes, however, the Unfavourite is almost suspiciously well-adjusted.
A variant is where The Unfavourite is actually highly successful and dutiful, but can never get the approval of his parents, simply because their sibling will always do "better" in their parents' eyes. ("Hey look, dad, I won the Nobel Prize for Physics!" "Only one? That's nothin' — your brother won Employee of the Month at Shop 'n Go 3 times!"). The Unfavourite doesn't need to play second fiddle to an actual sibling, and can even be an only child. Unfavourites without a sibling are often unwanted or unexpected children and can even, in perhaps an extreme case, be passed over for the family pet.
The audience's attitude towards the unfavourite is often based on what age the character is. There's a common perception that an adult character should really have gotten over this by now and moved on, even if the viewers/readers empathize with them. A child character, on the other hand, is likely to get the audience's unreserved support.
Age notwithstanding, this is usually a character you sympathize with, because we're supposed to root for the disadvantaged; expect the favorite either to be rubbing their status in their sibling's face, be an Aloof Big Brother, or completely unaware of the situation. It is, however, completely possible that the character is interpreting some behavior as favoritism — and the other character also regards himself as the Unfavorite. (Cue Sibling Rivalry.) Also, another possible situation is that the favourite is indeed aware of the situation, sympathize with the unfavourite and may even start the "talk with the parents" scene.
And Heaven help the poor kid if the favorite child is dead. (Possibly having received the status of "favorite" by dying.) See also You Should Have Died Instead.
Can easily escalate into Cain and Abel. May be rooted in a Death by Childbirth. May cross over with “Well Done Son” Guy if the Unfavorite wants some recognition. If the favorite of the parents isn't even a member of their family, it's a case of Why Are You Not My Son. When each parent has one favorite and one Un Favorite, it's Jacob And Esau.
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Anime and Manga
Jun Manjyome of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, disowned by his brothers for his inability to live up to the family name.
Well, he was never actually disowned, just disliked a lot. When he dueled his brother Chosaku midway through season one, they both acknowledged at the end that he had grown up more than they thought, and in season four, it's implied that they either already have or will reconcile with each other, since Jun is insistent that he make it on his own in the Pro Leagues before he will join them officially. But during most of season one, definitely their Unfavorite.
In Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, due to his recklessness and anger issues, IV suffers from this, as well as a dose of Middle Child Syndrome due to older brother V and younger brother III. As such, their father Tron has taken steps to keep IV Locked Out of the Loop about the family's plans. Tron's frequent belittling of IV's capabilities and lack of care for IV also do not help matters at all.
In the Mazinger series, Kenzo Kabuto had two biological sons (Kouji and Shiro) and two adoptive children (Tetsuya and Jun). Although Tetsuya was clearly his favorite, he still showed he cared for Kouji and Shiro. However, he got Jun completely neglected, treating her like a soldier, not making anything about her feelings of abandoment and her inner tensions, and he seldom shown he cared for her. It went so far that, before dying after his Heroic Sacrifice he pleaded Kouji that he treated Tetsuya like his brother and took care of Shiro... but he did not mention Jun at all. Nonetheless, his attitude drove Jun to think she could not be dependant on someone else and to develop a very strong-willed and self-reliant personality.
Variation: In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Dark Magical Girl Fate is a clone of Precia Testarossa's deceased daughter, Alicia. Fate has Alicia's memories of Precia being a loving and kind mother, but Precia is abusive to Fate and sees her only as a tool for bringing Alicia back to life. The Lotus-Eater Machine in season two reveals that Fate sees Alicia as the parental favourite older sister.
This is especially horrible in that most philosophers would agree that Fate is Alicia. Same body, same mind - so they're both copies; so what?
Fate herself, however, states that she is not Alicia.
In spite of their identical origins and memories, Precia claims that Fate and Alicia have very different personalities (This is confirmed in the Movie). Of course, Precia was more-than-slightly unhinged by Alicia's death, so it apparently never occured to her the Fate might have turned out more Alicia-like if it weren't for the, you know, horrible abuse.
Subverted/Zig Zagged with Sasuke. At first it appears that Sasuke, while being fairly intelligent and very talented, is constantly being neglected in favor of his geniusolder brother Itachi, whom his father always praised with the words "as expected of my child", while Sasuke only ever got an unimpressed "Become more like Itachi." But later we see that this only applies to his father, while his mother is shown treating Sasuke with great kindness while only line we ever see her speak to Itachi is "Do your homework!", so its looks as if every parent favours one of the two. Later in the story, some dissent arises between Itachi and his parents as Itachi didn't think too highly of their plan to take over the village and start a world war and it becomes apparent that his parents cared more for his incredible talent than for Itachi as a person. Their father soon turns his interest to Sasuke, tells him not to be like Itachi, complains about his older son to the rest of the family and Sasuke's mother states that when they're alone, all her husband and her ever talk about is Sasuke, cementing that Itachi was the actual unfavourite all long. But ultimately, their parents loved them both very much.
Gaara, because everyone in his family (and his entire city) is scared of him, or at least of the demon sealed inside him. He was conceived only to be a container for the demon and be a living weapon, and his mother died giving birth to him and his father, the Kazekage, hated him because of this. Subverted in the end, as it turns out that his mother, Karura's love for him is what makes his sand protect him and his ressurected father realizes that he does, in fact, love his youngest son.
Seta Sōjirō from Rurouni Kenshin is a particularly tragic example of this trope. So much that his half siblings try to kill him for being an illegitimate child. He killstheminstead.
Machi Kuragi from Fruits Basket is such an unfavorite that her parents automatically assume she attempted to kill her little brother, despite her (more or less believable) claim that she was just trying to keep him warm.
Practically anyone who is born as one of the Zodiac.
Not necessarily. Kagura is loved by her mother, as well as Yuki (in a way), Hiro, and Kisa, but Momiji and Kyo definitely fell into this trope. As Momiji says, mothers of Zodiac children either become overly protective or reject their child completely.
The main character Tohru even gets this from her father's family mainly due to their dislike of her mother. Pretty much treating her like dirt when she is alone with them.
This is bizarrely inverted with Yuki's family. Ayame is the unfavorite, which means that he was more or less free to do as he wanted which led to him being a self-centered jerkass in school, but ultimately meant he could move out on his own and start his own business. Yuki was the favorite (at least in the sense that his parents thought him more likely usable to get money and move higher in society), so he was forced to be Akito's playmate, was psychologically tortured, implied to have been hit by his mother for trying to avoid it, and was generally so screwed up that he couldn't interact with other people at all.
In Digimon Frontier, it seems that Kouchi was his his father's "Unfavorite" as Koji was taken by his father when he left their mother and divorced and he re-married another woman. This causes feelings of anger, jealousy and betrayal in Kouchi.
Yes, but you have to remember they were babies at the time. Koji didn't know Koichi existed. It most likely they just that both parents just got a baby when they divorced
Subverted in The Prince of Tennis. Yuuta Fuji feels he's the unfavorite since his middle brother Shuusuke is talented, handsome and popular at their school, so he leaves and transfers into another school and its dorms. But that genuinely hurts Shuusuke, who really loves and cares for Yuuta and just didn't know what his brother was going through, becoming a huge Stepford Smiler out of the hurt he feels upon Yuuta abandoning him. It'll take more than a year to reunite them.
Subverted in Code Geass. Lelouch Lemperouge spends a good portion of his life believing that not only are he and his sister Nunnally their father's unfavorites, but that their mother Marianne was too, since she was the only Imperial Wife to come from common origins; only much later on does he learn that his parents practically fell in Love at First Sight, and by extension, Lelouch and Nunnally were practically his favorite children. Further, they both wanted Lelouch to help them with their plan to make the world a better place... Only that, since both parents were Knight Templar Parents * and* Well Intentioned Extremists , they thought that "making the world a better place" involved a huge Xanatos Roulette leading to an Instrumentality project. Oh, and "want Lelouch to help" meant "send them into a war zone". Though there was an immortal to help them, she never introduces her self, or, you know, has weapons or anything.
Further subversion: The apparent golden child who is the Emperor's right hand man and direct heir? The one man that Charles' seemed to actually fear, warning that the failure of his plan means that Schneizel's would now be in play.
In Gundam 00's second season, there's an unfavourite that doesn't even need a family (they got killed by terrorists several years ago) to feel this way. Lyle Dylandy thinks that several of the Celestial Being members expect him to be just like his deceased twin older brother, Neil "Lockon Stratos" Dylandy. Lyle doesn't like it, logically, so after taking up Neil's Lockon mantle he decides to downplay his own and considerable fighting and piloting skills to make himself look different from Neil.
Hong Long could be argued to be this. His father favored Wang Liu Mei, his little sister, and made her the head of the Wang family instead of him, Hong Long instead becoming a Battle Butler to his little sister. However, Mei never wanted the responsibilities of leading the clan and blamed Hong Long for "forcing" her to take charge. Hong Long, being an Extreme Doormat, would go on to serve his sister faithfully for years while she treated him like crap and bitched him out for a situation her selfishness had gotten them into shortly before he sacrificed his life to save her from Nena. For the second time that day.
Hell Girl episode 16 features a disturbing twist on this trope. The episode revolves around Yumi and Yuki, a pair of twin girls in a traveling circus — Yuki is praised and doted upon by the ringleader, while Yumi is kept locked in a back room and frequently abused. Initially, the audience is led to believe that Yumi has summoned Enma Ai to exact revenge upon the ringleader, only to find out too late that the real target is her sister. Ai takes Yuki to hell, then, giving Yumi her chance to be the favorite.
Season 3 features a boy who becomes The Unfavourite in his family before the sibling is even born. He ends up sending the baby girl to hell, also before she is even born. The worst part? He assumed that doing this would make his stepmother stop "hating" him and lashing out at him for the tiniest things...and the end of the episode shows the family all laughing together on an outing. In other words, he was right.
Played with in G Gundam. It's implied that, due to being much younger as well as Book Dumb, Domon felt inferior to his Badass Bookworm older brother Kyouji in the eyes of their father, The Professor Raizou Kasshu. Unlike other cases, though, Dr. Kasshu doesn't show deliberate cruelty towards Domon, who finds another father figure in his martial arts teacher Master Asia and leaves home to train with him... Fast forward 10 years and Domon finds himself with a Broken Pedestal of a mentor, a dead mother, a cryogenically frozen father, and an evilAloof Big Brother who's become a wanted criminal...
Nope; when Raizo is exonerated and thawed out in the final episode, he tells Domon that he's proud of him and always has been, and Domon's being a fighter rather than a scientist like himself or Kyoji was never an issue.
In the Dragon Ball Z special it is revealed that Vegeta has a younger brother, who was exiled from their homeworld because he was too weak to be any good as a fighter (like Goku himself).
Also played with in Gundam SEED, with Ace Pilot Mu la Flaga. His father Al de Flaga was so peeved with Mu being a normal child instead of a perfect vehicle for his father's ego that he disowned the boy and cloned himself, the result being Rau le Creuset.
...who is himself an Unfavorite due to his short telomeres giving him frail health and a limited lifespan. Adaptations of SEED state that Rau was abandoned by Al de Flaga when he was very young, once Al found out. This is part of why Mu empathizes with him very late in the series.
Abo Ozawa in the baseball manga Stripe Blue. His older brother Bantarou is the closing pitcher on a professional team that owes its recent success solely to him. Being that Abo is also a baseball pitcher, he has to work extra hard to stand out, even to his own parents, despite frankly having not very formidable skills.
Shinji gets this so damn much. Even taken by itself, his relationship with his father is defined by Gendo's neglect and a cold-blooded insistence that he pilot a walking death machine under horrible conditions. But aside from that, Gendo has Rei, whom he treats as a surrogate daughter. Shinji and Rei become friends, but the fact that his father likes her better clearly bothers him. While Shinji is hard-pressed to get his father to even glance at him, many characters note on how surprisingly caring Gendo is to Rei. Asuka even points out to Rei, "You're Commander Ikari's favorite, aren't you?" while Shinji is still in the room. In keeping with the typical rules for favorites, Rei bears a close similarity to (and is a half-clone of and integral in the plan to revive) Gendo's dead wife Yui.
In actuality, while Shinji is the unfavorite and Rei gets something resembling affection from Gendo, his real favorite is his wife, and he's willing to (and planning on) using both of them to get her back. Rei seems totally aware that she's not really Gendo's favorite either, even correcting Asuka on the subject when she accuses her of it.
Played with in regards to Belarus of Axis Powers Hetalia, who thinks she's The Unfavourite of her older brother Russia because of their older sister Ukraine and Russia's subordinates, the Baltic brothers (Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia). This leaves the girl, well... ratherunstable. (Russia does care, but on the other hand he has his own issues and her Big Brother Attraction freaks him out. Not to mention he seems to be personally closer to Ukraine.)
Roman Empire was a well-intentioned Empire, but loved North Italy more than South Italy; the Chibitalia chapter said that he took Italy with him when he had to run away, but was shown to have left Romano. As a result, while Romano does care for his brother in a very Tsundere way, he's not exactly happy and his self-esteem problems show... but he isn't necessarily much better than anyone else
George from Paradise Kiss is the ilegitimate son of a rich, influential man and a former model. His father pays for his and his mother's expensive lifestyle, but has no actual relationship with them, and his mother is very vocal about how much she resents him because becoming pregnant ruined her modelling career.
Definitely Ageha from Papillon Hana To Chou: as an infant, her mother sent her to live with her grandmother in the country because she couldn't stop crying; her twin sister Hana/Kana (the translators kept switching) is popular and glamorous and steals her potential boyfriend; she's even screwed over by her only "friend". No wonder she's almost Driven to Suicide. Fortunately her relationship with her mom improves dramatically when they finally start talking to each other. Kana/Hana, however, is becoming uneasy with her sister's newfound confidence...
Asagi Ayase of Yotsuba&! gets far more than her share of crap from her mother. It's played for laughs, since Asagi tends to retaliate in kind, but at least one flashback has shown she's gotten this treatment for years.
Moroboshi Ataru from Urusei Yatsura is another only-child example of this trope. His parents are constantly lamenting the fact that he was ever born, in his presence. Played pretty much entirely for laughs.
They also wistfully mention how much they wanted a little girl, making Ataru the Unfavorite to a sister who doesn't even exist.
Sachiko in With The Light loves both of her children — autistic Hikaru and his unafflicted little sister Kanon — equally; it's her mother-in-law who plays unfavorites. Having Kanon to interact with and a hard time accepting the fact that Hikaru's not going to "get better" and be exactly like "normal" people means that she is more affectionate with the girl.
In There, Beyond the Beyond, both of the kingdom's twin princes are named Virid Visette Viridian. The one who would eventually become the "Mad Prince" was left to be abused and forgotten in a cell, while his brother got to be doted on in the palace.
Subverted with Lina in Slayers, who felt this to her older sister, Luna, both a fighting prodigy and the Knight of Ciefeed - a special human born with a fragment of the world's dragon god within them. While Lina felt that she didn't get enough credit for her magical powers (which naturally exceed beyond most humans) from her family, it wasn't the case, as her father was always supportive of her and Luna was the one who convinced Lina to travel the world in the first place. A portion of this is Word Of God from interviews.
While it's unknown how Amelia and Gracia/Naga felt toward one another, Amelia feels this way towards her own friends, citing the fact that she's the weakest in the group (in terms of strategic thinking and physically; her magical powers are almost on par with Zelgadis') and more often than not doesn't try to object against the others' (especially Lina, who pushes her around and uses her vast family fortune to pay for meals) wishes or thoughts. While her sermons of misguided justice warrant reactions, the others are apathetic toward her otherwise.
Seileiz, eldest of the three heirs to his country in Vampire Game, is also by far his mother's most hated. There are three reasons for this: he's adopted (as are his brothers), he's the Son of a Whore, and he's the illegitimate son of the king. The queen was willing to put up with the first two, but having a reminder of her husband's refusal to sleep with her running around really pissed her off.
In Nononono Nono's brother, Yuuta is like this. Both of them were trained by their ski-jumper dad to be ski-jumpers, hoping to go to the olympics. The problem is, Nono is the more talented of the two, but she can't go to the Olympics due to being a girl. Their father kept on pushing Yuuta to be as good as his sister.
Reina in Queen's Blade apparently suffers from this early on, being clearly the weakest between the three Vance sisters and not being allowed to leave the palace or do anything with her life. The justification for this later on is that Reina is the Generation Xerox of her mother, who died fighting in Queen's Blade, and her father was being overprotective for that reason.
Soul from Soul Eater feels this way in comparison to his older brother, Wes. Since the flashbacks showing this have all either been influenced by the Book of Eibon or the Black Blood, we don't really know how much of this is true. Also, Tsubaki's older brother Masamune cites his perceived Unfavorite status as motivation for becoming a kishin.
3-gatsu no Lion plays with this trope by offering two different perspectives: with and without a narrator. In the series' first chapter where it lacked a narrator, the flashbacks of the protagonist Rei are presented in a way that implies that he was the unfavorite in a family of three children when his successes in shogi are seemingly neglected in favor of caring for one of the other two children. However, later on, when Rei has long since been established as the narrator, the story goes into more detailed flashbacks that reveal the he was actually the favorite who was given more attention than the rest of the children.
In Girls Und Panzer, Miho is the less favored daughter of Shiho Nishizumi, compared to Shiho's older daughter and heir Maho. Shiho considers Miho a disgrace to the family who does not do tankery the Nishizumi way. Shiho berates her for saving her teammates from drowning in a river at the cost of a tournament win, and plans on disowning her after hearing about her becoming captain of the Oarai tankery team. After Miho wins the tournament against Maho, Shiho sighs and begins clapping while smiling, which could indicate a change of heart.
Loki sees himself as this, with a very "Thor was always the favorite!" outlook on life. Even though he's a total douche most of the time, most of what he does is done in an effort to gain the respect and adoration of Asgard and his father.
In the Spider-Man movies, Ultimate Spider-Man, and The Spectacular Spider Man cartoon, Harry Osborn is a rare example of being The Unfavorite as an only child, with his father preferring fellow intellectual and friend Peter Parker to his own son. This is in contrast to the portrayal of Harry and Norman's relationship in the comics: originally, Norman was portrayed as a loving, but absentee father who tried to make up for his utter lack of time for his son, via spoiling him rotten. This in turn led to Harry becoming a drug addict, as he used his dad's money to avoid working, and spend his days partying and buying drugs from his neighborhood drug dealer. Of course years later, the relationship between Harry and his father was retconned into a "Kick the Dog" scenario to make Norman (then dead and buried, with Marvel dead set on not resurrecting him) an evil person who physically and emotionally abused his son throughout his entire life. When his son died, this led to Norman seeking out a replacement heir, ultimately settling on Peter Parker largely due to editor Bob Harras's demand that Peter and Norman's rivalry be changed to be more like Professor X and Magneto's rivalry, complete with Norman wanting Peter to join with him the same way Magneto is forever harping on Xavier to join forces and conquer humanity.
There was another period of Peter being the favored one, with Johnny Storm as the Un Favorite. While they eventually got over it and became buddies, for awhile, Johnny resented the fact that Peter seemed closer to his family than he was, due to Peter's shared scientific aptitude with Reed and ease at being friends with Sue.
Emma Frost was The Unfavourite to her successful brother until he revealed he was gay. Then both kids were unfavorites.
Sam Guthrie's other siblings are all Unfavorites in comparison to him.
Charles Xavier and Cain Marko, stepbrothers, were both unfavorites to a degree.
Charles was loved by his biological parents and abused by his step-father, though not to the same extent as Cain was was abused by the same man, his biological father.
Alex Summers was Unfavorite to Scott in the eyes of Nathaniel Essex.
James Proudstar was Unfavorite to his brother John, who died heroically stupidly on his first mission as X-Man.
Deathbird is Unfavorite to her sister Lilandra. Lil's brother D'Ken was the Unfavorite, driving him to go nuts and steal the M'kraan crystal.
The Ultimate (man, family relations suck in this universe)Reed Richards, a bespectacled young genius, was never the ideal son his father wanted. It's shown in the first issue that his father showed more affection to Ben Grimm, the tough football star of the school, than to his own son. Fortunately the situation isn't visited often in later issues; what with Reed finding a new father figure in Sue and Johnny's scientist father and being faced with matters more important than getting paternal approval, such as cosmic mutations and alien invasions every other week.
On a planet where twins are the norm, Mekt Ranzz (Lightning Lord), older brother of twins Lightning Lad and Lightning Lass of the Legion Of Super-Heroes, felt like he was everyone's unfavorite. Which is why he eventually became a supervillain who terrorized his younger siblings.
Felt is the key word, as it's never been revealed that his parents or his siblings treated him like garbage because he was a singular birth.
Vivisector in X-Statix. He's an only child, of course, but there's nobody in the world that Myles' father hates more than Myles himself. Why? Simple. His dad is a New England old money Ivy League college professor, and Myles is a gay mutant.
It wouldn't be too far off the mark to say that, in the Marvel universes (both 616 and Ultimate), every mutant born to mostly non-mutant families end up being unfavourites when their mutations manifest.
In the 616 timeline this actually would be quite an exaggeration. It seems to have been true of Bobby Drake (Iceman), but none of the other original five (Scott's parents were actually abducted by aliens before getting to see his and his brother's powers manifest), it was not true of Colossus, Storm (her parents were killed too early), Thunderbird I, Kitty Pryde, Rogue (she ran away from home before her powers manifested), Jubilee (her parents were dead before her powers manifested), and with reference to their human adoptive parents it was not true of Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, Nightcrawler or Gambit (who was actually preferred to his adoptive father's biological son).
Oracle, speaking about Huntress: And what about the least favourite daughter?
Also in the Batfamily, Jason Todd is even more the unfavourite. Interestingly, he always considered himself the unfavourite, even before actually becoming it. Initially, Bruce merely expected him to be just like Dick, and this led to him thinking he was the Unfavourite. However, after coming back as the Red Hood, he is at best the unfavourite, and at worst not considered a part of the Batfamily at all.
Art Spiegelman, the Author Avatar of the biographical graphic novel Maus felt he always had to compete with his dead older brother, Richieu, who had died as a result of the Holocaust.
Bone has this with one of the primary antagonists saying "Mother always liked you best." before trying to strike her sister down.
This isn't the only time Briar mentioned this. She explains that her family treated her like an old, useless nursemaid and made her younger sister Rose the queen instead of her. The reason, according to her, is because nobody knew she was a Veni-Yan-Carni, a type of powering dreaming sorcerous born into the family line. It's possible she just neglected to tell them though, since Rose mentions she thought Briar's "dreaming eye" was blind.
In Adventures In The Rifle Brigade, Captain Hugo Darcy is a man among men and a true hero if ever there was one. He saved the entire world at the end of the first miniseries, and once called Erwin Rommel "a big nosed cunt" to his face. At the beginning of the second mini, he visits his family, and because his work in the Rifle Brigade is top secret, his drunken idiotic flyboy brother Robert gets all the glory and adulation.
Kalibak in the DCU is Darkseid's Unfavourite. Even worse, his father's favorite, Orion, is the heroic Arch-Enemy of the entire rest of his blood family and wants to kill them — but Darkseid still respects him more because he is, at least, competent about it.
Grayven has it even worse. Darkseid at least sees Kalibak as useful and loyal Dumb Muscle. Darkseid snubs Grayven at every possible opportunity since Grayven is nothing but Darkseid-lite. Grayven's Eye Beams are weaker than Darkseid's Omega Effect, Grayven isn't as strong as Darkseid, Grayven's a Smug Snake while Darkseid is a Magnificent Bastard...the only thing Grayven has going for him is his hair. There is literally nothing Grayven can do that Darkseid can't do better. Grayven's also pretty open about his ambitions to overthrow Darkseid. He's incompetent and disloyal.
Paul-Philip Ravage suffered from this quite a bit. Didn't help that his was a family of backstabbing businessmen, all of whom immediately began plotting his downfall when he started proposing actual solutions to pollution problems. And by the time he was winning his father's respect, he began losing his human form...
Jimmy in the Chick tract "Unloved," as his parents refuse to attend his high school graduation, constantly tell him he's inferior to his sister, criticize his choice of a wife for having kids (and she later leaves him with all his money) and disown him after he asks to borrow money. Strangely enough, while his sister always does better in their eyes, they don't even bother to attend her wedding.
Generally, any character in a Chick Tract who converts tends to become the Unfavorite of the world at large.
Many a Grimms' Fairy Talesheroine with a Wicked Stepmother and step-sister. Men sure had rotten taste in women back then.
Yet apparently every woman has wonderful taste in men...strange, isn't it?
There are a number of tales where the youngest daughter of a king becomes the unfavorite of her father when she does something that displeases him (compares her love of him to salt in bread, refuses to acknowledge that he is more fortunate and rich than God, etc). This inevitably results in him banishing her, her setting off to seek her fortune, and eventually meeting her father again, after he has to eat his words and forgive her.
In certain fairy tales, a king and queen have many sons, all of whom become unfavorites in favor of a soon-to-be-born daughter to the point of them being planned to be killed. They escape, and eventually are joined by their innocent sister.
In some Harry Potter fics, Harry is treated like this when it is mistakenly prophesied that his little/older sibling is the Chosen One and everyone either downright hates him or ignores him.
This is the entire premise of some Naruto Fanfiction. Often, Naruto's OC sibling is substituted for the jinchuriki, and Naruto's parent-inclusive life becomes inexplicably worse. One such example is this.
Star Trek has some interesting cases with Jim being the unfavourite compared to his dead father. His mother couldn't stand the resemblance between them and would often do nothing to stop his stepfather from beating him, neglecting him and traveling far away just so she wouldn't have to look at Jim.
In one story, after becoming captain, to get back at his mother from neglecting and allowing the abuse to happen, Jim donated a huge sum of money towards charities where children had been abused, naming it her, "for all the things she did when he was a kid". Afterwards, people went up to her, asking her "how does it feel?" for raising such a nice kid and how proud she must be.
For the record, there is little to no evidence for this in canon.
There is a very good Sailor Moon fanfiction called Misconception, in which time changes and another child is born in Chibiusa's place. Despite being (technically) an only child, the poor girl can never live up to her "sister's" memory. She spends over nine hundred years either ignored (with her parents desperately trying to conceive the daughter they really wanted) or treated as a terribly inferior replacement for Chibiusa, to the point that the senshi often forget that she isn't Chibiusa herself. When you find out that your (favorite) aunt is trying to undo time itself so that you're never even born just to bring back some other kid (and everyone else you know is completely on board with the plan, including your own parents) you know you've got problems.
Luckily, there's a happy ending. When The Unfavourite accidentally inherits Sailor Moon's powers, everyone forgets Chibiusa ever existed. The only ones that do remember her are Pluto, who exists outside time, and the girl herself, since she only knew of Chibiusa through stories.
Fanfiction often has Megatron jealous of his brother Optimus. Whether they are actually biological brothers or simply brothers by name depends on the author. For example, The Ties That Bind Us shows a young Optimus being injured by an ambush and his caretaker Ironhide had to carry him while telling Megatron to follow him. While understanding that Optimus was more serious condition, Megatron began to grow envious that he was always placed second place after Optimus.
You know how down below April is called the unfavorite in For Better or for Worse? It's taken Up to Eleven in The New Retcons, in which Elly goes insane and denies that April was ever her daughter, throwing her out of the house. It didn't help that John eventually gave up on convincing Elly April was their daughter, forcing her to spend her final years in Millborough with her brother's family before she leaves for college. Also, only Michael and her uncle Phil attended her graduation. While Liz had a good reason for missing it cause she was dealing with her own family crisis, and Grandpa Jim couldn't go because he was on his death bed, that doesn't really excuse her still nuts mother or her father.
Not one you'd think about unless you read the comments for the fics and entered Word Of God territory, but Lawrence is this to Connie. See, she had had a Teen Pregnancy and was able to give the baby to relatives. When she got pregnant with Lawrence, and it failed to keep Paolo with her, she banked on being able to leave this baby with her relatives too, but they refused because Lawrence was mixed race. So Connie was stuck with him and resented him for it. That he later admitted to being gay just made it worse.
Much of the plot of Ordinary People revolves around Conrad (Timothy Hutton) being disfavored by his mother Beth (Mary Tyler Moore), who preferred his older brother, Buck.
The Lord of the Ringsmovies, especially the 3rd, hit this trope pretty hard for Faramir. It's text, not subtext, in his father's dialog. While Faramir is a grown character and, logically, "should've gotten over it by now", his father's scathing treatment of him makes it almost impossible for anyone not to sympathize. This factor, combined with some deleted scenes present in the extended versions, helps explain why Faramir initially decided to capture Frodo and the Ring, which is the opposite way he chose in the book. It's also notable that the favorite, Boromir, actually admires and defends Faramir, and is fed up with their father just as much as Faramir.
However, a good reason not to get over it: while in an ordinary family, grown adults are supposed to be independent of parents and get on with their life, this is a ruling family, and therefore Faramir will remain defined by his relationship with the present ruler for the rest of his life. He could not get over it, however much he might have wanted to, unless Boromir had become regent and treated him differently.
Well, one does have to take into account that Faramir's appearance in the movies is set only days after his beloved brother was found dead and his father's dickery toward him has been turned Up to Eleven. Yeah, the man has a right to some puppy-dog eyes.
As the movie Walk the Line showed, Johnny never could quite match up to his dutiful dead brother in his dad's eyes.
Spoofed in Walk Hard, where Dewey Cox's father shouts "The wrong kid died!" even in completely inapplicable situations.
The mother in Crossroads quite batantly tells her high school graduate daughter who she abandoned years ago that she was a mistake and that she never wanted to have her. She is remarried and has two sons.
Kevin McCallister in Home Alone seems to be this, as most of his relatives either ignore him, bully him, or regularly accuse him of being a troublemaker.
Nuka from The Lion King II: Simba's Pride. The scrawny, barely a mane growing lion voiced by Andy Dick. Little cub Kovu gets picked over him to take on Scar's heritage (Kovu not even having been sired by Scar, though it's implied Nuka is, being the son of Zira, who was apparently one of Scar's mates. Everybody got that? Good. Moving along...), and gets treated unfairly by the lionesses just cause... just cause. This makes his death even more tragic, when he chases Simba up a dam, proclaiming he's doing it for his mother, and that this'd be his moment of glory, with a mad driven look in his eyes. Just before the footing gives away from underneath him, and he ends up crushed by a bunch of logs. His mother for the first time in the movie shows she actually does care and frantically tries to dig him out. He ends with a whimper. "Sorry... I tried..."
A deleted storyboard set continues with Nuka saying "I got your attention now . . . " and then expiring.
His mum not even warning him to be careful should have raised a red flag...
Gordie in Stand by Me, whose parents never forgave him for being the one to survive.
Conrad's mother in Ordinary People is pretty much incapable of loving him after he survived the boating accident that killed his brother.
Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham actually manages to play this trope compassionately without villifying the parents for it. This is arguably attributable to the fact that the Unfavorite in this case is mostly so by default, rather than actually being unloved or undervalued.
The Goonies. Played for laughs in how Mama favors Francis over Jake.
Jake: You always take his side, Mama. You always liked him better than me.
Mama: (Smacks Jake) That's right!
Still Jake is not the real Unfavorite, as he's not chained in the basement like Sloth.
In Willard, despite being the strongest of the rats, Ben can never get the same level of affection as Socrates. after he decides to stop taking it Willard directly states "I hate you."
In Tower Of Terror, Abigail feels this way toward her sister Sally, since everyone was going to something for her on Abigail's birthday. That thing was going to be Abigail's suprise birthday party.
In Ever After, Danielle gets the short end of the stick because she was the biological daughter of her deceased father. And before his death, it probably didn't help that he said "I love you" to Danielle and didn't say it to the stepmother, only increasing her jealousy of Danielle. Interestingly, the same thing happens to the youngest daughter who isn't as beautiful as her elder sister and isn't as cruel and snobbish, being more down-to-earth and kinder.
Jacqueline's treatment as the unfavorite of the stepsisters is lampshaded by her, when she predicts that she'd be the one treated as a servant, if Danielle weren't around. When Danielle falls ill and can't wait on her family, the stepmother sure enough orders Jacqueline to do their chores. Jacqueline is not pleased.
Albert in The King's Speech was this as a child, due to his stuttering. But this becomes subverted as when they became older, his older brother preferred a more carefree frivolous lifestyle while Albert was The Dutiful Son. His father George does approve of the adult Albert (though still frustrated by his speech impediment) and his last words were that Albert would be a better king than his brother, even though he didn't say it to Albert directly.
In the new Thor movie, Loki's Start of Darkness is a result of his jealousy over the fact that his father, Odin, has always favoured his brother Thor. It turns out that Odin chose Thor to succeed the throne of Asgard because Loki is adopted, and isn't Asgardian. Loki could never have ruled no matter what Odin's preference was. Odin's actual feelings towards Loki are left ambiguous — it could be that he genuinely loves Loki as a son, or it could be that he only took the boy in to use as a political pawn.
Despite that Loki still loves Frigga—who didn't feel sad when they saw Loki hug Frigga after he kills his father, King Laufey.
Welcome To The Dollhouse has Dawn. Punished constantly by her parents, especially when younger sister Missy (the apple of their eye) constantly baits her.
Tonny from Pusher Pusher 2]] is this compared to his father's other son and his kid half-brother.
In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth is her father's favorite, and her mother's least favorite. Lydia is her mother's favorite, and her father's least favorite. This is nice indicator of what each parent values. Jane is adored by both of her parents, Mary is almost universally ignored, but the second-youngest Bennet daughter Kitty is perpetually told to shut up and stop getting in everyone's way.
Similarly in Persuasion, plain, sensible and sensitive Anne is ignored and dismissed by her family while her beautiful but vain sister Elisabeth is admired by all.
Similarly in Mansfield Park, Fanny's mother only cares about her sons and babies her youngest daughter, but ignores her older two daughters. Fanny only realises this when returning for a much anticipated visit after years away from home.
In Sense and Sensibility, Mrs. Ferrars dotes on her daughter Fanny and younger son Robert, but doesn't seem to particularly like elder son Edward.
Cosette in Les Misérables is a truly extreme Tear Jerker example, who, after being put in the care of the Thenardier family (with her mother paying them all she can), is despised, terribly abused and forced to be the inn's servant at the age of five. In contrast, the real daughters of the Thenardier family are treated like little princesses.
Gavroche, the other child of the Thenardier family fits this trope too, as his mother only loved her daughters and his father didn't pay any attention to any of his children. He's so neglected that, as a baby, he's left to cry on and on with nobody paying any attention to him. He's later abandoned and lives on the streets. While on the street he takes two younger boys who are actually his brothers that his mother gave away as infants and were (accidentally) abandoned by their adoptive mother under his wing.
Aral Vorkosigan got a bit of this from his father. His older brother had been one of the first casualties of Mad Emperor Yuri's Civil War, and his father sometimes acted as if the wrong brother had died.
Thomas Raith in Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files. In Blood Rites, it is revealed that he is Lord Raith's only surviving son, because Raith always kills his sons when they are old enough to become a threat (although he keeps his daughters around him). Thomas is still alive only because he was clever enough to avoid his father's earlier indirect attempts to get him killed.
It's unclear how clever he is; while Thomas is smarter than he looks, we've rarely if ever seen him accomplish anything that's really extraordinary for his kind. However, Thomas is the youngest son, so that might be why he survived as long as he did.
Roald Dahl's Matilda has parents that are completely unappreciative of her superlative brilliance. Her father cares far more about son Mikey, a total nonentity, and the mother is more interested in bingo.
Ebenezer Scrooge, of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol fame is heavily implied to be this, sent away to Boarding School for years at a time by his resentful father. In some versions (at least in The Film of the Book with Alistair Sim), it's explained that Ebenezer's father blames him for his mother's Death by Childbirth. His kind-hearted and beautiful younger sister Fan is kept at home and is the apparent favorite, possibly due to an implied resemblance to her mother.
Fan could easily be the child of a second marriage, which gets the Fridge Logic out of the way.
Actually, it makes more sense for her to be his older sister. The film didn't mention what order Ebenezer and his sister were born in, but Fan managed to marry and have a child before Ebenezer had the chance to, which might imply she was older. (And legal marriage age during this time was 21, so there was little chance she was married as an extremely young teenager, as she'd have to be if she was Ebenezer's younger sister.)
In Teresa Edgerton's Green Lion Trilogy, Ceilyn. His parents were Kissing Cousins in a notoriously strait-laced segment of society, and felt that their marriage was all right only if it were platonic, so they were ashamed to have had him. Sometime after Ceilyn's birth, his father had a vision and felt that he and his wife had been absolved and blessed, so Ceilyn's younger siblings are beloved but he is seen as a reminder of shameful behaviour.
In Gone with the Wind, Scarlett's daughter Ella is her least favorite child; when Scarlett's other daughter Bonnie dies, Scarlett wonders why Ella couldn't have died instead.
Taken to new and extreme heights of Southern Gothic in Gillian Flynn's debut novel, Sharp Objects; the narrator, Camille, is her Ax Crazy mother's Unfavorite, which is how she managed to survive to adulthood as nothing more than a self-harming, self-destructive alcoholic. Her more tractable younger sister died in childhood as the end result of their mother's Munchausen's by proxy, and her much younger half-sister is a sex-and-death-obsessed psychopath after thirteen years of the same treatment. Fun book.
The most obvious example is the protagonist Malcolm in Expecting Someone Taller. Like most of Holt's male leads, Malcolm is a total wimp, and his parents unabashedly compare him to his super-perfect sister Bridget. Becoming the heir to practically unlimited power makes Malcolm immediately think that it was originally meant for Bridget. In fact, Malcolm's lack of self-esteem and desire to do good make him the perfect person to inherit said power; Bridget would totally mess it up.
Another example is Kevin Christ in Only Human, who's the younger brother to Jesus and the second son of God.
In Scout's Progress, Aelianna Caylon, despite being acknowledged as the foremost mathematical mind on Liad and the indirect saviour of many starship pilots, is The Unfavourite of her mother's children, and has been a target of her brother's abuse ever since they were children, when they overheard a conversation in which Aelianna was recommended to their mother over her brother as the best candidate for being her heir. Her brother was chosen instead, but has abused the position by taking out his resentment on Aelianna ever since; their mother refuses to recognize the situation.
One of the reasons Kareen yos'Phelium turned out so unpleasant was that she was the unfavourite, even though she was her mother's eldest child and would have been the clear heir except that she turned out to lack aptitude for the family business. Passing her over as head of the family would have been one thing by itself, but it's suggested that her mother pretty much regarded her as a waste of space and ignored all the useful aptitudes she did have.
In C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces, the king abused all three of his daughters impartially — until the youngest had to be sacrificed to the gods. Then he was explicitly abusive because he had lost her, being stuck with two unappealing daughters. Also, both Orual and her tutor the Fox heap praise on Istra while ignoring Orual's other younger sister, Redival.
Tyrion Lannister of George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire: his mother died giving birth and he is a dwarf. No, not the fantasy kind. His father Tywin hates him. Interesting, however, in that the favorite, Jaime, is actually the only one in the family who truly loves Tyrion and will ever take his side.
Tyrion's uncles, Kevan, Tygett and Gerion, all loved him during his childhood and, in the present story, Kevan and his aunt Genna respect him. Tywin's distain just eclipses all this.
Jon Snow is treated this way by Catelyn Stark. Although he is actually Ned Stark's bastard son, Ned treats him like all of his children. Catelyn, on the other hand, treats him coldly and one point, deranged by grief and worry, wishes to his face that a near-fatal accident had happened to him rather than to one of her own children.
Made more ironic by the fact that there's a significant chance that Jon isn't actually Ned's bastard at all, but was placed under his protection and the ruse was designed to hide his true heritage. At least some portion of the readership assumes Jon may in fact be the child of Ned's sister Lyanna and Prince Rhaegar (which would make Jon a rightful heir to the kingdom Rhaegar and Lyanna's bastard).
Also, Samwell Tarly to his father Lord Randyll.
Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic series had Tris. She was disowned and disposed of by her parents, who sent her to live with various relatives who used her as a live-in servant while constantly berating and bullying her. Particularly strange was that she seems to have been an only child — it was when she was moved away from her own parents that she encountered a "sibling rivalry" situation (her cousins, who got preferential treatment from their parents — Tris' aunts and uncles).
It's noted that at least part of the reason why this happened is that Tris's powers - which cover control over pretty much all weather - were unknown and uncontrolled at the time...which meant that they tended to synchronize with her emotions. They thought she was possessed, and it terrified them - but Tris does still think they could have handled it better. Also notable is that no one in her family is ever mentioned to have tried to make contact with Tris after she becomes known as one of the youngest and most powerful mages of her generation. (At one point in the second series, she tells her student that her family would probably like to have her back for her powers, but that'd be the only reason. She doesn't say whether or not her family attempted a reconciliation between books, though.)
There's also Daja, whose whole culture banished her, after she was the only survivor of a shipwreck that killed the rest of her family, due to the association of a lone survivor being bad luck. She understands the reasons behind it, but it still upsets her until they bring her back in.
Josephine in Tim Powers' The Stress Of Her Regard. She is the disturbed and unappreciated younger sister of protagonist Michael Crawford's wife Julia; their mother died giving birth to Josephine; the family says that they don't hold this against her but that Josephine holds it against herself. Josephine spent her youth coping with stress by becoming someone else; imitating a clockwork machine, or imitating her sister Julia (who charmingly made sure that people knew about this). Years after Julia's death, Crawford and Josephine are guests in someone else's home when Josephine slips into 'becoming' Julia for several days. Crawford then feels that he now knows Julia far better than he did when they were married - and doesn't like her much, and tries to help Josephine return to her own personality.
Ron of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter feels like this, though it's not true (his family never shows him anything but the utmost unconditional love). Specifically he feels overshadowed by his five older brothers, and his younger sister because his mum supposedly wanted a daughter most of all, and his famous best friend, who his mum treats like another son. And, of course, Harry himself is constantly compared unfavorably to his cousin Dudley by his aunt and uncle; this becomes one of the ways the book shows Harry growing up, as "not being liked by parental figures" becomes less important than "war between good and evil".
Molly has shown some unfavorite sentiments toward Fred, George, and Ron. More than once she's compared the three of them unfavorably to their three older brothers. When Ron needed dress robes for the Yule Ball in Goblet of Fire his mother coldly left him with ugly, feminine looking hand me downs while making sure Harry got a nice green set that matched his eyes (granted she may have bought them with someone else's money), and she treated him rather nastily when he objected. Later, when Ron is appointed a school prefect (like Bill, Charlie, and Percy), Molly squeals, "That's everyone in the family!" prompting George to quip, "What are Fred and I? Next door neighbors?" She also apparently didn't have much faith in Ginny becoming a prefect either. Granted, Fred and George can be extremely annoying, but even so...
Ron eventually gets everything he wants. In the first book we see that his heart's desire is to win the Quidditch Cup and be Head Boy, surpassing all his brothers: he does indeed win the cup and probably would have gotten to be Head Boy if he'd stayed at Hogwarts for his seventh year. As if Fate's trying to make up for it, he gets the girl of his dreams instead while his best friend marries his younger sister.
It's implied that Tom Riddle was one of these in his youth: the woman running the orphanage was glad to see the back of him. It's justified in that it's also implied that he was a Damien-esque nightmare even as a child.
Voldemort's mother, Merope, to such an extent that it stunted the growth of her magical abilities.
Sirius Black may be another example. His younger brother Regulus was 'the good son'. However, it's debatable whether or not Sirius took the 'unfavourite' role on himself by deliberately doing things he knew his family disapproved of, implying that he did not actually care whether or not his parents preferred him or his brother because he so deeply disapproved of their expectations and political views.
It's implied that most of this may have started after Sirius' acceptance into Gryffindor rather than Slytherin, like the rest of his family. A Nature vs. Nurture argument could be made here, but its apparent that most of his "misbehavior" was a reaction to his unfavorite status, which was probably due to his Gryffindor values. It's rather cyclic. His family hates him because he was a Gryffindor, he hates his family because they hate him because he's a Gryffindor and he hates them because he's a Gryffindor.
Except that Sirus was rebellious long before he got into Gryffindor. On his first train ride to Hogwarts he implies that he doesn't want to get into Slytherin.
And let's not forget Petunia's outburst about her sister in the first book.
Petunia implies that she herself held this position in the Evans family, especially after Lily's magical abilities are discovered. Though it's difficult to know just how much of this perception was due to her jealousy over Lily's powers, as we only ever hear her side of the story.
Severus Snape was revealed to have grown up with parents too busy fighting with each other to give a rip about him. Which is almost Greek tragedy-levels of sad, considering he was an only child.
In case there weren't enough examples from Harry Potter already (did Rowling have issues with this?), the Dumbledore family had this in spades. Ariana, the youngest member of the family, was mentally ill and required constant care and supervision to the partial exlusion of her older brothers out of necessity. Because of this, Aberforth seemed to wind up the unfavorite of the family, being neither ill like Ariana or a prodigal genius like Albus, and remains rather bitter toward his brother even when they're both old men (although for different reasons). Strangely, Albus himself seemed to feel like the Unfavorite as a boy, since he didn't think his mother gave him the proper attention he deserved due to his brilliance, and resented having to waste his time taking care of Ariana when he had many other ripe possibilities before him. As an old man, he admitted that it was all ego and he needed to get over himself.
According to the website, Rowling herself wasn't exactly the Unfavourite, but her parents labelled her "the clever one" and her sister "the pretty one", with no thoughts about whether either kid particularly wanted to be put in those boxes.
Heck yes, Rowling had issues with it. In the documentary "J.K. Rowling: A Year in the Life" she says that when she was little, her parents told her she was supposed to be a boy, and when she asked if they had also been disappointed when her sister came along, they said no. She then went upstairs and cried. It is heavily implied they favored her little sister. About her father she had the following to say: "I was very frightened of my father for a very long time. But also tried - well, it's a common combination, isn't it? - I desperately tried to get his approval and make him happy, I suppose. And then there came a point quite shamingly late in life where I couldn't do that anymore." She hasn't had any contact with her father since.
There have been other issues between J.K. Rowling and her father, besides issues of favoritism. Both admit they became distant after JK's mother died, and there have been issues over finances and money where JK's father is concerned.
The Earth My Butt And Other Big Round Things is a great insight of being The Unfavourite. The narrator is a chubby, blonde high-schooler with average grades living in a glamorous upper-class family of beautiful slim dark-haired people.
In J. R. R. Tolkien's Return of The King, Denethor clearly ladles all the work on Faramir's shoulders partly because Boromir was his favorite. It is heavily implied that at least part of this is the immediate reaction of grief; Gandalf warns Faramir against doing anything rash, because his father loves him and will remember that.
Denethor himself was the Unfavourite to Thorongil/Aragorn's Favourite.
"Indeed [Denethor] was as like to [Aragorn] as to one of nearest kin, and yet was ever placed second to the stranger in the hearts of men and the esteem of his father." The Return of the King, Appendix A, J.R.R Tolkien.
Fingolfin, from J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion. After his half-brother Fëanor threatens to kill him then is exiled, their father Finwë chooses to accompany him into exile, relinquishing his crown, even though the text gives the reader no reason to think that Fëanor's attack on his brother was justified.
Flowers for Algernon has a rather extreme version of this. Charlie's mother Rose preferred her daughter Norma to her son Charlie due to Norma having an average IQ compared to Charlie's very low 68. This made Norma a Spoiled Brat and left Charlie mostly confused and afraid of his mother who would beat him for perfectly natural things like having an erection as would any pubescent teen boy. Terrified he would do something to Norma, Rose eventually forced Charlie's father to have him taken away by threatening to kill Charlie if he didn't.
It's actually a subversion. As his memories come back, Charlie realizes that his sister was expected to achieve everything for both of them, which put her under unfair pressure to do well and caused her to bully him.
Jacob Have I Loved takes this to biblical proportions, as implied by the title. The protagonist is overshadowed by her twin sister from birth, first because of the latter's frail health, then because of her beauty and musical talent. The title comes in when she parallels herself to Esau, Jacob's older, less fortunate brother, and decides she must be God's UnFavorite.
Subverted in Dragonlance because Raistlin Majere appears to be The Unfavourite of the universe while his twin brother Caramon is well-liked by damn near everyone he meets; really, though, people don't like Raistlin because he's a Jerk Ass.
Jochi in the Conqueror books is disdained by his father, Genghis Khan, due to suspicion he was conceived as a result of Borte's rape by Tartars. In Real Life, this resulted in tension between Jochi and Chagatai, which in turn was part of the reason the great khan named his third son as his successor.
Survivor's Quest has him, much older and as one of the main characters, realize that it wasn't quite like that. They did love the absent sister, and idolized their image of what she might become, but they never neglected him.
By the end of Galaxy of Fear, Zak no longer feels on equal terms with his sister Tash. At the start of the series she was a Bookworm, he was the one who liked machines and action and so on. But as the series progressed and she started developing her Force talents and applying the things she picked up from studying, he felt increasingly overshadowed. Not only could she do just about anything he could do, but better, but their serious, studious uncle trusted her feelings over his, and tended to dismiss him as being childish. To their credit, Tash sympathized with Zak and their uncle respected him when he was serious, just... Tash was Force-Sensitive and increasingly able to use it. When the family stumbles so constantly into danger, that means a lot.
In their mother's eyes at least, Anna and Jesse are clearly Unfavourites in comparison to Ill Girl Kate in My Sister's Keeper. As Jesse says, he's the "lost cause," a guy that spends all his time in a filthy garage apartment doing drugs and drinking. The unfavoritism leads to him becoming an arsonist and causing his fireman father quite a lot of grief. Anna, on the other hand, was only born to donate blood to Kate, who has leukemia. It's scary how her mother seems to think of her not in terms of who she is as a person, but as the sum of the parts that could be used to help Kate. Their father, on the other hand, seems to think of all of them equally, though of course because of Kate's condition he has to put the other two in the back seat from time - especially Jesse, who started consider himself "invisible" within the family, since Kate and Anna are often the center of attention whenever Kate's condition worsens.
Prince Roger of David Weber and John Ringo's Prince Roger series is the Unfavourite due to his resemblance to his treasonous father and his complete lack of accomplishment, compared to his fleet-admiral sister and senior-diplomat brother.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid includes this but the role is split between Rodrick and Gregory, mostly because the favourite is obviously the much younger Manny.
In The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries, Sookie was unfavorite in comparison to her Jerk Ass brother Jason, because of her telepathy making her too weird for their little southern town. Although their grandmother was loving, she was weirded out by Sookie's ability and only acknowledged it as a gift when it would be helpful or useful for Sookie to put it to use.
Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar books have Heralds Vanyel Ashkevron and Talia Sensdaughter, both very much the unfavourite child of their respective fathers (and in Talia's case, her father's various wives as well). Slightly subverted in Vanyel's case as he's his mother's favorite (although that mostly serves to make his brothers and cousins jealous), and he eventually reconciles with his father as well.
In The Dead And The Gone, Alex Morales is left to take care of his siblings Julie and Briana after an asteroid hits the moon. Alex very obviously favors Briana over the more whiny Julie, especially after Briana gets asthma. However, Alex learns to like Julie after Briana disappears and is soon found dead in the elevator.
In A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Francie grows up dealing with her mother's favoritism for her brother Neelie. When he was born less than a year after her, their mother compared the beautiful cooing baby to the colicky, plain-looking little girl. She immediately knew she could never love them equally.
In The Westing Game, Grace Wexler's preference for beautiful daughter Angela is so extreme that she doesn't even recognize her younger daughter, Turtle, after a few drinks. Subverted in that being ignored is actually better for Turtle than having her life micromanaged like it is for Angela, who's so stressed by My Beloved Smother that she starts setting off bombs.
Grace even refers to her daughters as Cain and Abel at one point.
The Liavek anthologies had Nerissa Benedicti, who summed her situation up thusly: "I am the last of eight children, and any week-guest in the house can discover that everybody concerned wishes there had only been six." Nerissa ends up joining a religion of suicides at the age of fourteen. (Her brother Deleon, the second Unfavorite, ran away from home on his twelfth birthday.)
In the Agatha Christie book Sparkling Cyanide, Sandra Farraday. Sandra's mother explicitly says at one point that Sandra is the most difficult and least dear to her of all her children. Also from the same book, Iris Marle seems to be rather neglected compared to her beautiful, rich older sister Rosemary. Iris doesn't really seem to resent it, though.
Another Agatha Christie example is in Murder With Mirrors. Mildred Gulbrandson, the biological daughter of Miss Marple's friend Carrie Louise, is the Unfavourite as compared to Carrie Louise's adopted daughter Pippa, her stepsons Alex and Stephan, and later Pippa's daughter Gina. Poor girl just can't catch a break.
The end of the story, when Carrie Louise turns to Mildred for support and comfort and an earlier conversation between the former and Miss Marple implies that much of this 'unfavoritism' was Mildred's perception.
In J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood, Phury is the Unfavourite of his family. He was the second-born twin, which apparently is bad luck in his world. His twin, Zsadist, is kidnapped by a nanny as an infant and sold into slavery. Phury is not directly blamed for this, but it is inherent that his birth and its bad luck was the reason. His family falls apart, and notes that he had to drag his father's drunken body inside as dawn approached so that he would not die. It was also noted that when he left to find his brother, no one noticed his departure, and he did not attend his parents' funerals. He finally finds his twin, who is being horribly abused and tortured by an aristocrat, and helps him escape. In the process, he loses the lower half of one of his legs and uses a prothesis. He vows that he will help his brother, which includes beating him up on several occasions at his request. He takes a vow of celibacy, and becomes a drug addict. He eventually finds peace with his parents while withdrawing from the drugs, but spends most of the series with some serious guilt.
One of the first things we learn about Stiva in Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is that he hugely prefers his daughter to his son. For some reason this comes off as charming and honest in the original Russian, and cold and cruel in the English translation.
Annotations for Warbreaker reveal that, while there were legitimate tactical reasons that King Dedelin considered when he decided to send Siri to marry the God King instead of Vivenna, he ultimately was more willing to sacrifice his youngest daughter because he didn't love her quite as much as her older sister.
Claudia Kishi of The Baby Sitters Club often feels like this with her parents, due to her older sister Janine being a certified genius and good at academics. However, one of the Claudia books reveals that Janine also feels like the Un Favourite because Claudia is so pretty and popular.
In Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford series, Wexford's older daughter Sylvia, who comes off badly in his eyes (and Rendell's) even when she's been victimized. By contrast, the other daughter, Sheila, is an extremely successful actress who never does anything in the least bit wrong.
Washington Square's main character Catherine Sloper is this to her father, in comparison to her older brother... who died several years before she was born and doesn't appear to have lived long enough to be named.
She had been hatched from a fifth egg to begin with; and every one knows the disadvantage of beginning life with four sturdy older birds on top of one. It was a meager egg, and a feeble baby that pipped its shell. The remainder of the family stood and took nearly all the food so that she almost starved in the nest, and she never really knew the luxury of a hearty meal until her elders had flown. That lasted only a few days; for the others went then, and their parents followed them so far afield that the poor little soul, clamouring alone in the nest, almost perished.
The Hon. Freddie Threepwood in P. G. Wodehouse's Blandings Castle series. As the seemingly unnecessary "second son" who's constantly piling up debts and having to be hauled out of London, he's not a big hit with his father Lord Emsworth, who'd do anything to get him off his hands.
In Gene Stratton Porter's A Daughter of the Land, Kate. Mary is clearly the Favorite, but the other sisters also had their share.
"I am not! But it wasn't a 'fool thing' when Mary and Nancy Ellen, and the older girls wanted to go. You even let Mary go to college two years." "Mary had exceptional ability," said Mrs. Bates. "I wonder how she convinced you of it. None of the rest of us can discover it," said Kate.
Aren't most people blessed with fertility? Ah well.
Caine Soren and Penny from the GONE series get this a lot. Caine to the point where his mother put him up for adoption because she just had a "bad hunch" about him. (Granted, he did turn out to be evil...)
Zil gets this on a much smaller scale when he revealed that he was neglected and ignored by his parents in favour of his older, jerkass brother Zayn. Acts as a freudianexcuse for his ur...Arson, bigotry and attempted genocide.
In The New Baby, a picture book that was part of a 1980s series called "Happy Endings Books," about a society of anthropomorphic mice, the main character, Tippu, is afraid of becoming this, having just become a big brother. The book ends with his parents realizing that they just haven't been giving him enough attention, and him coming to realize that he could come to like the baby.
Live Action TV
No matter what Det. Goren from Law & Order: Criminal Intent does for his mother (including taking care of her while she's in the hospital) he still can't measure up to his brother, a homeless drug addict with an illegitimate son - or were there two brothers? Either way, Goren gets no respect.
One episode portrayed a wealthy family patriarch (played by Rip Torn) who had two sons, one favorite (a talented, handsome, successful historian), the other unfavourite (a businessman with constantly-failing schemes). Each one married a woman the opposite of him—the responsible one married a screwed-up mess of a woman, while the unfavourite's wife is very dutiful and responsible; the patriarch also has favorites among these two, preferring the latter to the former. Both brothers are murdered over the payout from their trust funds. Ironically, the favorite daughter-in-law planned and executed the murders: she set it up as a Strangers On A Train Plot Murder, in which each woman would kill the other's husband. The "screwup" was originally in on the plan, but she chickened out, and the "responsible" one actually killed her own husband, as well. The ending implies that the patriarch has already picked his favorite and unfavourite grandsons.
An earlier episode featured a murderer who had grown up as the unfavorite compared to her dead older brother, for whom she was a Replacement Goldfish who could never live up to the impossible, Marty Stu level standards supposedly set by the original. Her turn to crime was motivated by her desire to curry favor with her parents at any cost, even if she had to resort to fraud and murder.
Eunice Harper/Higgins from Mama's Family. It's debatable just how much of her unfavoritism is in her own head.
An episode of Law & Order: SVU had the detectives visit a doctor who has a huge portrait of him, his wife, and his two daughters, a doctor and a lawyer, in his office. Later, they discovered the doctor also has a son... who was working as his janitor. Three guesses who turns out to be the violent rapist they're searching for.
Not to mention the woman who murdered mothers as a nurse in order to "free their daughters" of the pain of caring for them. Particularly depressing at the end when she is seen watching old films of her mother playing cheerfully with her brother while she plays alone in the background.
Played for laughs with GOB of Arrested Development. Despite being the eldest son, GOB is loathed by both his parents for his often idiotic behavior, and as such is extremely jealous/admiring of his younger brother Michael, the family "favourite". Averted in that Michael hates being the favourite and GOB seems happier without any responsibility
Pretty much cut out by Lucille in the pilot episode:
"If you're saying I play favorites, you're wrong. I love all my children equally!" (flashback to earlier the same day) "...I don't care for GOB."
And this later bit:
Lucille: You're my third-least favorite child! Michael: *shrugs* ...I'm okay with that. The Narrator: (Later, as GOB enters the scene) And then Lucille's fourth-least favorite child showed up.
Even when Lindsey is revealed to be adopted Lucille mentions she still loves Lindsey as much as her other children and even more than GOB.
Buster seems to be the unfavorite to George Sr.
Though he doesn't seem to care too much for GOB, either. Lindsey and Michael were the only ones that he seemed to actively try to protect.
Kara "Starbuck" Thrace of the new Battlestar Galactica was The Unfavourite and apparently an only child. We learn that Starbuck's mother Socrata was in the Colonial military and Starbuck joined up largely to win her approval. When she graduated Viper school and earned her commission, her mother berates her for not being first in her class, despite managing to become an officer rather than an NCO like Socrata was.
Not quite a straight example. Socrata was bastardly and abusive to Kara because she knew Kara had a special destiny and didn't think she was trying hard enough to live up to her natural ability.
Curious example on Dirty Sexy Money. In a first-season episode, matriarch Letitia says that Brian and Jeremy are their father's unfavorites; considering the fact that Jeremy is a drug-addicted layabout and that Brian isn't Tripp's biological son, this makes sense. But after learning about Brian's illegitimacy, Tripp starts liking him more, giving him a company job and calling him 'son' for the first time in the series.
Possibly the example most familiar to American TV viewers, Robert from Everybody Loves Raymond. With the slight reversal that Robert is actually the elder brother himself.
Marie (to Raymond): "You can never turn your back on talent."
(Turns her back on Robert and walks out the door)
Robert was originally going to be cast as shorter then Ray and being forced to literally look up to his younger brother. The actor being taller took the gag from funny to hysterical.
It gets to the point that, when Marie tells Robert he was always the favourite, a lie used in an attempt to get Robert to conceive a child with Amy, nobody believes it. At all.
Lorne in Angel. When he visits home for the first time in years, his parents say "We ate the wrong son."
Taxi: Alex's sister Charlotte worriedly drops by to tell him their father Joe had suffered a heart attack. Contrary to what she expected, Alex doesn't even mind. May sound like an uncharacteristically selfish act from him, but it turns out in a later conversation that apart from deserting the family frequently since Alex was a kid, their father lent much less attention to him than to Charlotte, for whom Joe bought a brand-new car as her 21st birthday present.
An interesting example in Frasier: both Crane brothers considered themselves to be The Unfavourite, though in reality neither was. Though this gave birth to a destructive competiveness between them and rendered them utterly incapable of working together for any length of time, they both concede in one episode that their competiveness motivated them to excel academically and professionally.
Monica on Friends is treated like this by her parents, while her brother can do no wrong (the reason given in the show is that they thought their mother was barren, which means that Ross was their "Miracle Child," and by the time Monica was born, the amazement was over.) Possibly why she is so screwed up. Interestingly, Ross actually calls them out on it a couple times.
Though when her dad realises that they've been doing this, he gives her his Porsche to make up for it, so, you know, "every cloud".
Of course, he gives her the Porsche after he destroys all her childhood memories by using the boxes they were in to protect said Porsche from water damage. That silver lining only came after a flood.
The episode in which Chandler fakes Ross's death as a joke ends with Ross on the phone to his mom explaining he's fine. "No, Mom, even if I had died, you wouldn't be childless ... Monica!"
Also when Ross' daughter Emma is born his dad congratulates him on his first child, completely forgetting that he has another one, a son named Ben from his first marriage. So there's also an unfavorite grandson.
Chandler, despite being an only child claims he still suffered from this trope, because his parents prefered his imaginary friend to him. More Parental Neglect and Hilariously Abusive Childhood though. (Interestingly he and Monica eventually fall in love, possibly because they understand each other's insecurities so well).
Averted with Rachel, who - when compared to her spoiled sisters Jill (Reese Witherspoon) and Amy (Christina Applegate) - is apparently the only child that her father (Ron Leibman) can claim to be proud of, thanks to Character Development that allowed her to grow and become a more responsible adult.
Chuck Bass on Gossip Girl is a strange example, as he is an only child for two-thirds of season one. Sadly, once his step-siblings Serena and Eric move in, he still obviously takes a back seat to everyone else.
Also Blair, who is an only child but continually overshadowed in her mother's eyes by Serena and later even Jenny. Heartbreakingly.
Mohinder Suresh of Heroes is his father's Unfavourite, as compared to his Ill Girl older sister Shanti. This is due to having been conceived expressly in order to be a cure for her, but born too late; Chandra half-hated him for the failure, half-didn't want to get emotionally attached again.
Nathan Petrelli of Heroes could also be said to be the Unfavorite of his family. Angela actually told Peter he was her favorite compared to Nathan. Especially since it's later revealed in season 3 that Nathan was the only one in the family to be born without powers and had to be given powers via a formula.
Although Arthur Petrelli does claim that Nathan is his favorite, but given that he previously tried to have Nathan killed, the truth of this statement is debatable.
And Angela's claims that Peter is her favorite are somewhat suspect given that Angela spent the whole of Season One helping Big Bad Linderman manipulate things so that Peter would become a living bomb and Nathan could eventually become President of the United States, allowing The Company the defacto ability to rule the world.
And also in the first season, when Angela tells Peter he's her favorite, she goes on to add that she knows it never looked that way when he was growing up, as he often ignored while his parents focused on Nathan. In "Six Months Ago", Peter also mentions having never gotten along with his father and being unsurprised that he wanted nothing to do with his graduating from nursing school. The Petrelli parents ignoring Peter while he was growing up, leaving Peter to turn to his big brother every time he needed help, seems to form the crux of the brothers' unusually close relationship.
Apparently this has been retconned or reverted, because Angela begins to treat him with respect in season four. It culminates in her horror when she discovers that Nathan has had his throat slashed open by Sylar. She even closes his eyes as a sign of respect for both him and for the dead. She goes so far as capturing Sylar, burning a dead shapeshifter who looks like Sylar in order to throw off suspicion, getting shapeshifter Sylar to turn into Nathan, and then having Matt Parkman alter Sylar's memories and personality to actually BECOME Nathan Petrelli. Creeeeepy. It's implied at the brief part of season five we're shown that Sylar's personality is resurfacing.
The Graphic Novel "Truths", it's revealed that the only reason Nathan was given powers synthetically was because Arthur felt that powers had been given to the wrong son. This mostly stems from his belief that Peter is too soft-hearted. Moments before his death though, Arthur expresses pride in the fact that both his sons are willing to do what needs to be done, so Peter may no longer qualify. At least not from his father.
You know what? The Petrelli parents are just fucking horrible people if you think about their cumulative actions for more than five minutes.
In Judging Amy, one episode feature a large, loud, and boisterous family who did not know what to make of their youngest(?) child, a quiet, apparently unathletic, and introverted kid. Apparently, forcing him into dog piles and over-enthusiastic games of football constituted abuse so the family had to learn An Aesop about different personalities.
An episode of Lois and Clark featured the mother of a deceased criminal known as "Bad Brain Johnson". To try and get her attention, her Un Favourite second son built a fully functional mind control machine, to offer her the whole world as a gift. Not only was he met with equal disdain as usual, but not even the machine at full power could force her to tell her son she loved him.
Arnold Rimmer in Red Dwarf is a powerful example of an Unfavourite. His brothers were all high-flyers in the Space Corps; Arnold was a technician, the second lowest in rank on a mining ship. While he's a comedic character, some of the abuse he goes through would reach Woobie standards, and goes a long way to explaining why Rimmer's such a git. Unfortunately, it's still difficult to side with him, given the frequency with which he uses his screwed-up past as a carte-blanche excuse for being a jerkass. In some of the darker moments of the books, the tragic side does become clear.
Not least in the story which shows just how small the difference in history between him and Ace Rimmer (what a guy!) is.
There are several scenes in the show which give Rimmer a more sympathetic POV. Curiously, a deleted scene in Series 6 shows that his brothers all ended up screwed up in later life, making Arnie perhaps the least screwed up of the lot ultimately. Another source of his angst is in Series 2, where he laments that he just wanted his father to congratulate him on something, but will never get the chance now.
There's a bit of this buzzing around Lore, from Star Trek: The Next Generation, who considers Data the favourite of their father. The "older brother" of the two androids Noonien Soong created, Lore (who has emotional awareness, while Data didn't), went a bit off the rails and was deactivated (but not before he was able to call a giant life sucking entity to the colony where he was built in order to destroy it). During his first appearance in Datalore, Lore spends a lot of time convincing Data that Lore was the second of the two built: to "perfect" the mistakes Soong made with Data (turned out it was the other way round. Lore terrified the colonists, who petitioned Soong to make one ''less'' human). The whole favouritism thing comes to a head in the episode Brothers when discovering that Soong has spent the last years of his life perfecting an emotion chip for Data without the "faults" that Lore's had. Lore deactivates Data, takes his place, steals the emotion chip and murders their father before leaving.
Lore: You didn't fill Data with substandard parts, did you? No, that honour was bestowed upon me. You owe me, old man. Not him. Me.
Supernatural: Even though Dean's Daddy issues are a lot more obvious, you could say that both of them fit this trope. The only affection Dean ever gets from John is when John is possessed or about to die, a regrettable incident that happened when he was 9 gets hung over his head for 17 years. And as for Sam, he's disowned when he wants to be normal, John actually blames him for his brother's impending death in In My Time Of Dying and he gets two utterly dismal goodbyes while Dean at least gets an apology and a smile. And the worst thing? He told Dean that he might have to kill Sam if he goes bad, and Dean thought he had to basically commit suicide (just not right away) because John gave him an order and he failed and, as shown by Long Distance Caller is still devoted to his father. Oh, John. You might have been a good man but you failed at being even a halfway decent father.
Lampshaded by the Yellow-Eyed Demon who tells Dean that even though John argued and yelled at Sam a lot, it was 'more concern than he's ever shown you.'
Strange version: Lucifer regards himself as this, but Gabriel points out that they all know that God loved Lucifer more than any of the other angels, more than Michael and more than Gabriel himself. The reason Gabriel believes Lucifer hates humans? He felt that God cared about them more and would demote him to this trope.
In an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun, it's revealed that Mary's sister Renata was the favorite of the Albright family:
Mary: The minute she was born, my life changed. I mean, she was showered with attention, she was given everything, she was supported endlessly and I had to stand by and rinse out her things! Nina: [astonished] Wow... so you're the good sister?
Young Dracula: Despite being the child that most takes after him, Ingrid is consistently ignored and humiliated by her sexist father.
One of the most famous routines of the Smothers Brothers involved them arguing about which one their mother loved most. Tommy, despite being older, gets the worst of the unfavorite treatment. While his brother Dickie got a bike, Tommy got a wagon with only one wheel. And instead of getting a dog, Tommy got a chicken.
It's not so much that they like Max more, he's just a lot easier for them to deal with compared to Carmen, as her problems were usually a lot more serious then Max's. Angie herself calls George on this in the episode "I Only Have Eyes For You" after George punishes Carmen more harshly then Max and she accuses him of liking Max better.
Angie: No! It's just that he's easier right now. I know she's a handful, but you can't dismiss all her problems as teenage drama, you have two kids and you should be treating them equally.
In the later seasons it actually was the opposite. Carmen's problems were much more serious than Max's were, and he felt unloved and ignored.
On Charmed, Chris seems to be not just the Unfavorite of his father (for complicated backstory reasons involving an alternate future), but of the universe in general: his brother is the Chosen One by virtue of being the first child born between a Charmed One (a trio of Chosen Ones in their own right) and a Whitelighter. Chris is...the second such child, which is apparently less impressive in terms of destiny, and winds up with a bit of inferiority complex as a result.
Later, when they already know he's the Kid from the Future and she's already pregnant with him:
Piper: Damn, this was easier with your brother. The Force Field blocked about everything...
Chris: Hey! You used a force field with him and not with me?!
Piper: Oh, no, no, that was his, not mine.
Chris: WHAT?! HE HAD POWERS ON THE UTERUS?!
In Veronica Mars Cassidy Casablancas, the younger of two sons, was clearly the unfavourite as the victim of bullying by his father and the 'favourite', his elder brother, as the dad and sibling had competitions to see who could make him cry first. This character would also come under the All of the Other Reindeer umbrella.
In Dallas, JR Ewing's Freudian Excuse was that Jock and Miss Ellie were constantly comparing him to Bobby and finding him wanting.
A Played for Drama example from Mad Men. Justified in-universe in that Don was the bastard son of a whore being raised by his father's widow and family.
Poor, poor Purple Parrots. Legends of the Hidden Temple seemed to put the shortest, slowest players on Purple Parrots, to the point where, in challenge wins, they are dead last. This has caused them to be a minor case of Base Breaker: you either don't like them, or you support them as the underdog.
In Victorious, Trina is implied to be this. How much? After getting her wisdom teeth removed, her parents went on vacation for the sole purpose of not wanting to take care of her.
It's not without justification. Tori has a nice, caring and generous personality. While Trina tends to act like a whiny brat to get her way who has to hanfg out with her sisters friends because she can't make any on her own.
In the episode of Leverage "The Snow Job", despite being the one that practically runs the crooked business, his father clearly favors the older fun loving air head son.
Unfavourite pets appear from time to time on the various Animal Planet Heroes shows, when an irresponsible owner takes excellent care of one dog/cat/horse/whatever, while allowing another to starve in the yard without shelter or medical care.
Oh god Skins loves this one; Chris became an unfavourite when his brother died, Freddie is constantly passed over for Karen, Katie's mum has always favoured her over Emily, and in Gen 3 the Nick and Matty situation is... complicated.
"If you'd like to took at the relationship between nurturing and growth, I'd like to point out that my brother is 8 inches taller than me."
Given the way his mother is described (and acted in her appearances on the show), it's kinda clear that she was dispassionate at best towards all of her children and her husband. Leonard, however, seems to have gotten the worst of it.
Smallville: Earth-2Tess, proving that despite her crap life, our Tess is actually better off without being raised as a Luthor. Though at least she was still alive, unlike Earth-2 Lex, who was apparently also The Unfavourite. Apparently neither of them had a chance against their superpowered adoptive brother, Earth-2 Clark.
Poor Tess can't seem to catch a break with Earth-2 Lionel in either world, given that on Earth-1- even though Lionel acknowledges that she isdefinitelya Luthor- he still treats her like crap and considers her both inferior and expendable.
Poor Edith from Downton Abbey. Her older sister Mary is her father's favourite, and her younger sister Sybil is clearly her mother's favourite. That leaves her as the overlooked middle child.
The premise of the song "Better Version of You" by Paul and Storm is the parents informing The Unfavourite that his unborn sibling will be the favourite.
April from For Better or for Worse was the Black Sheep and completely ignored by almost her entire family (the main exception being her grandfather). The fact that she's regarded by much of the Hatedom as being the strip's Only Sane Man is probably very much related to this fact.
Making this even harsher, creator Lynn Johnson admitted that the Patterson family was based on her own, and that April represented the second daughter she wanted but never had. Apparently that went out the window, since as noted above, April is often the victim of Informed Wrongness.
Peter Fox from FoxTrot tends to be this in the Fox Family.
All three of the Fox kids do crazy things. Peter, being the oldest, tends to draw more attention since his zany antics include things like driving like a maniac, skipping homework, playing a guitar loudly and badly, and wrecking the house by throwing a football around indoors. In comparison, Paige's obsessive shopping, Jason's scientific screw-ups, and their mutual back-and-forth teasing is kind of small potatoes.
When his older brother Chad is visiting from college, Jeremy from the strip Zits seems to fall into this.
This wasn't helped by early depictions of Chad, which gave him a gleaming, perfect smile, the rest of his head unseeable, atop a perfect body to go with the notion that he could do no wrong. More recent depictions make him look...like Jeremy with a beard.
New York baseball has two teams. The Yankees, perennial playoff contenders, 27 time world champions, rich as all hell...and the Mets. Note that for some New Yorkers, this makes the Mets the favorites, because they're pitiable, lovable losers most of the time, while the Yankees are perpetually successful.
Los Angeles has two pro basketball teams: The Lakers, 17-time league champions and home to some of the greatest players in the game's history... and the Clippers, who have long been one of the biggest jokes in sports.
Los Angeles also has the Dodgers. 6-Time World Champs and another of Baseball's most celebrated squads. And then they have the Angels, a sad-sack expansion team who, for four decades, could never catch a break. This gets subverted in the 2000s when the Dodgers were ripped apart by the Mc Court divorce scandal and got another black eye when a Giants fan was nearly beaten to death at Dodger Stadium. Meanwhile, The Angels hired former Dodger Mike Scoiscia as it's manager and he led the club to it's first World Series title and several pennants over that decade. The Angels, needless to say, are no longer the Unfavorite in the L.A. area.
Warhammer 40000 backstory has strong vibes of this in the Primarchs. With a few exceptions the vast majority of them defected because of their father's disapproval and/or withering apathy. In the words of Roboute Guilliman, "The Emperor was a great scientist, a great leader, but a terrible father".
On the tabletop itself several armies could lay claim to this. The long suffering Dark Eldar went ten years without receiving an update. Now that they have a new rulebook and set of models the mantle passes on to the Witchhunters, though their chances of getting an update are looking grim.
The Necrons were also this, their army was pretty bland, with zero personality and very little to no updates. Now they got a massive change along with a lot of new figures and a revised back story making them more interesting.
The title character of Sophocles' Electra is neglected and abused by her mother and step-father. She loathes them both and isn't terribly hesistant about letting it be known. Orestes is also the unfavourite, but has been in exile since childhood so it's not as obvious.
In The Lion In Winter, Richard is Henry's Unfavorite. John is Eleanor's Unfavorite. Geoffrey, poor guy, is the Unfavorite to both.
The Broadway show Next To Normal features this trope spectacularly with the song "Superboy and the Invisible Girl" after it is revealed that the son has been dead the whole time, died when he was eighteen months old, but he haunts the mother throughout the show. She perceives him as a perfect son (while he really has just as many issues as the rest of the family), leaving the living daughter a wreck.
Beat in The World Ends With You typically sees himself as the Unfavourite of his family, especially compared to his younger sister Rhyme. As a result of being unable to live up to their standards, he stops trying at school altogether, which Neku notes is at odds with the Hot Blooded personality he demonstrates.
In Silent Hill: Homecoming Alex's younger brother Joshua is clearly the favourite of his parents, to the extent that Alex tells his mother to "stop pretending you care about me" at one point when she tries to apologize to him. It's later revealed that Alex's parents had to choose one of their children to be sacrificed to Silent Hill's god in order to keep it from destroying Shepherd's Glen. They chose Alex and, knowing he was doomed, purposely remained distant with him to make the inevitable sacrifice easier.
The titular Bastard of Kosigan, whose situation at home was so uncomfortable for him that he ran off and became a mercenary after his father (the only person defending him from his uncle's abuse) died.
Hawke's younger brother Carver in Dragon Age II sees himself as this, despite little evidence to support his claims. A classic case of Younger Brother Syndrome. Carver's uncle Gamlen is also one, since his parents made his sister their sole heir, despite disowning her after she eloped with an apostate (illegal) mage.. The game compares the two of them on occasion.
Liquid Snake from Metal Gear Solid. He was so much of an unfavorite of his clonedaddy Big Boss that he swore revenge against his 'superior' twin, commandeered a walking nuclear death-tank, and held the world for ransom for the remains of Big Boss. Talk about family issues.
Interestingly, in the ending of Metal Gear SolidOcelot reveals that he was actually the superior twin, even though he'd always believed otherwise, making this something of a subversion.
Actually, Ocelot uses Recessive and Dominant... which doesn't mean inferior or superior. It's just inherited gene prioritisation.
Also, technically, it's not just Liquid, but pretty much ALL of the Les Enfants Terribles children who were UnFavorites to Big Boss, as he hated the project, especially when it was performed without his consent. In fact, the project was the reason why he broke away from the Patriots and eventually attempted to overthrow them.
Metal Gear Solid 2 had Fatman, who was neglected by his parents, and apparently, even though he built a nuclear bomb at Age 10, and was rather famous (or infamous) within the bomb trade for this feat, he was hated within his own school.
Though it may not be confirmed as we never see his parents,Nozomi Suemitsu aka the Gourmet King from Persona 3,he constantly in his older and less rotund bother's shadow
Persona 4 takes this trope a step further with Kou Ichijo. It's revealed that Kou was raised in an Orphanage of Love and then adopted as a child because his adoptive parents though they couldn't have any children of their own... until they actually do. When they do, Kou feels that they've literally cast him to the side now that they have a "real" child.
Flora, in the Professor Layton series, seems like this sometimes because the Professor keeps trying to leave her at home when he goes on investigations, but allows Luke — who is younger — to tag along. Although the Professor's reasoning is good (he's unwilling to take a young lady into dangerous situations), it seems a bit wince-worthy, especially since Luke is only the Professor's apprentice and Flora is his actual foster daughter.
Although it's arguably justified by the differences in Flora and Luke's backgrounds. Luke, as the professor's apprentice, is used to solving puzzles and hazarding dangerous situations. Flora has not had that sort of experience, and also is implied to still be recovering from the trauma of her dad first trying to pass off a robot as a replacement for her mother, then being raised by Ridiculously Human Robots after her father's death.
In FEAR, it turns out that the Point Man was the unfavorite grandchild of Harlan Wade, as he did not possess the same Psychic Powers of his brother, Paxton Fettel.
If you play Crusader Kings 2, you will most likely have your share of unwanted sons. Daughters are always wanted, no matter how bad their skills and social capabilities are, because you can marry them off to establish alliances, but if you practise primogeniture (eldest son inherits), and your firstborn is an unlikeable fool, it might be a good time to get him killed. Elective Monarchy is a possible solution to the problem, but if you choose that inheritance law, every unlanded adult son you have in your court gives you a prestige penalty, meaning you might want to marry them off to some foreign duchess to get them out of your feet, while keeping your intended inheritor around and preparing him to take over after you croak.
Sakura Matou (or better said, Sakura Tohsaka in Fate/stay night was the Unfavourite for blood family, leading her to be given away to another family. Then her adoptive family's treatment of her was somewhere south of "holy shit" on the abuse scale. Can't blame her for going batshit on them all.
Though technically, her adoptive family treated her like that because she was the favorite of the family head, and was trying to make her the rightful heiress of the family. Granted, said head (Zouken) was completely insane and her adoptive brother Shinji abused her out of spite for making him the unfavorite. Oddly enough, he initially raped her because the head's treatment meant that she actually needed magic infused semen to survive... later on, though...
And not to mention, Fate Zero explains that the girl's blood family gave her away not because she was The Unfavourite, but because her magic potential was about to be wasted away due to old family rules that only allowed the eldest kid to be trained in magic, so they wanted her to develop into a good Magus even if it meant she should be raised by others (therefore they were trying to play around with the trope itself). And neither Daddy Tokiomi nor Mommy Aoi had any idea that Zouken and Shinji would treat Sakura THAT badly. Only Rin aka the eldest daughter and the "favorite" was somewhat aware of how something was wrong with the Matous, and that was after Daddy Tokiomi died and Mommy Aoi went the Fate Worse Than Death way; the damage to Sakurawas already done back then.
A better example would be Shinji, his uncle, and perhaps even his father. His grandfather held them in contempt and treated them horribly because they did not possess any sort of magic circuits and was therefore useless to him. His uncle, Kariya, is perhaps the biggest and most tragic example of this but Shinji was also full of insecurities and developed into such a pathetic person that he's even the unfavorite among the fans.
Subverted in Tsukihime. Shiki really was the unfavorite of Makihisa and upon being wounded was promptly disinherited and kicked out. However, that's because not only were they not related - therefore making Shiki incapable of becoming the Tohno family head - Shiki was the son of the guy whose family he just killed off. He was kept around to take care of SHIKI (Makihisa's favorite) if he happened to Invert.
Shion Sonozaki, though much of her ill treatment comes from Oryou, her cruel grandmother. It doesn't end well for her as she becomes Shion's first target in the Cotton Drifting and Eye Opening chapters.
Shizune Hakamichi turns out to be this in Katawa Shoujo, due to being deafmute and thus "not normal" in the eyes of her Jerk Ass father Jigoro.
Little Busters has Haruka compared to her twin sister, Kanata. Though it turns out eventually that even if they were favoured, the other sibling wasn't much happier.
Roy Greenhilt from The Order of the Stick. His father's epitaph reads "Devoted Husband - Mighty Wizard - Passable Father", and his ghost keeps showing up to harass Roy about his choice in Character Class.
Although it turned out his father wasn't likely the favorite either.
Eugene harasses Roy chiefly because he doesn't get to go to Lawful Good Heaven until Roy (or another Greenhilt descendant) fulfills the blood oath Eugene made as a younger man. The middle Greenhilt is then supremely incensed when he learns that he's Lawful Good Heaven's Unfavorite because he abandoned the oath for other pursuits.
Eugene's unfavoritism was well in place long before his death. In On the Origins of PCs, a still-alive Eugene tells Roy all about the Blood Oath solely so that Roy can relate it to favored Julia when she gets old enough to do something about it.
To add to the above comment, Eugene only starts pushing Roy into finishing the oath because it gets passed down to the eldest, i.e. Roy. So when Roy died, it got passed to Julia, until Roy was brought back to life.
Wally from Zebra Girl is a subversion — while he's at the bottom of his pack of werewolves (and explicitly referred to as the Omega), and constantly teased and berated by his pack-mates, Doyenne, the pack leader, confides in Jack that she feels he has the most potential out of any of the pack, and derides the others as brutish murderers who use their animal sides to excuse the evil in their all-too-human hearts. Of course, in her next breath, she matter-of-factly states how she's going to have to kill them...
Rayne from Least I Could Do claims in one strip that he was locked in a cage and fed newspaper as a child. His friends know it's BS, but Mick remarks "his stories amuse me so."
Played with in Narbonic. Dave's brother Bill is actually a pretty boring, ordinary guy, but Dave is stubbornly convinced that Bill is cooler, better looking, and otherwise superior to him in every way. There's no indication whether this is related to parental favoritism.
Dominic Deegan: Miranda Deegan has pretty much disavowed any knowledge of her oldest son Jacob. Her reasons aren't entirely unjustfied, though; Jacob took up necromancy after one of her oldest enemies attacked her home and gravely wounded her youngest son, Gregory, whom Jacob would use as a guinea pig for several horrible experiments - one of which almost killing Gregory in the process. And, uh...yeah.
Red Mage too, although technically that was entirely concocted and implanted in his mind by Thief.
Riff from Sluggy Freelance is the Unfavorite to his stepbrother (who is apparently his mother's new husband's son). When said stepbrother asks if he is better than Riff, his mother tells him that it's not nice to "rub it in". Riff is thus somewhat pleased, albeit humiliated, when Bun-bun and Kiki's attempt to stand in for him at a party with a mechanical look-alike fails and results in him getting disowned.
Mizuna of Adventurers!thinks she's one of these, bringing up how she was always compared with Karashi when younger. When she mentions this to Karashi, the latter says that the comparisons were always favorable; eg. "Mizuna is so much more advanced than Karashi was at her age!"
Isaac Jenner from Demonology 101, both in the eyes of his father and The Powers That Be. This is his primary reason for his numerous attempts to murder his brother Gabriel.
Monette of Something Positive was the Unfavourite of her biological father (we're not quite sure where her mother is in all of this). When her father gained custody of her and her sisters, he dropped her off at her grandmother's house. While Grandma was on vacation. Grandma also kept pit bulls. And her father tied raw steaks to her head. Oh, and did we mention that at the time she was less than a year old? Of course, being Something Positive, this is generally played for laughs; however, it's given genuine emotion when her father visits her for Thanksgiving at the MacIntire residence in Texas. His ill treatment of her is what prompts Faye and Fred to adopt her and make her their daughter.
In Instant Classic, when Author is born, he has an unexpected twin brother. His parents are dismayed, the father going so far as to name the boy Xauthor, declaring him to be the evil twin at birth and treating him accordingly through his entire childhood and early adulthood, despite him not doing anything remotely evil until he snaps due to being told he's evil for YEARS He's also got a goatee.
What Birds Know has Dores, stuck in the shadow of her brother Ian. Her family completely fails to recognize her talents, seeing her instead as a lazy, irresponsible and ill-tempered brat. Her mother is by far the worst about this, to the point that when the parents are worrying about their daughters taking several days too long to return from their errand, she argues against sending help, muttering that she'll just ground Dores later, and freaks out when Ian volunteers to help. "This is not going to happen!"
Ann "Bootsie" Khoeler in Friendly Hostility; her parents praise her brother for doing so wonderfully at college, and continue to praise him when he reveals he sold her as a slave to cover his poker debts.
Concession: Joel's father preferred his older brother Julian and left him the entire company in his will. While the author claims these implications were just meant as gags, there are hints that his mother would have preferred a daughter; Joel's twin sister Miranda died when they were young, so it's possible he feels his mother would rather he had died. According to Joel, the situation is even worse; he was so traumatised by the death that he was put in a mental hospital. While there, Joel became convinced that their older brother Julian had killed Miranda and their parents thought Joel had done it. Understandably, he's severely messed up by the time the main storyline starts.
Brisbane of You Say It First is one of these. We never see his parents, but hear that they seem to hate him. They didn't attend his wedding and the fact that all they did was sign the card Brisbane's brother added to his gift is treated like a huge step in repairing the relationship. He also sadly told his wife that she would be able to meet them, but he wouldn't be allowed to be there.
Batman And Sons play around with this a bit. What's clear is that Terry is the favorite, being Batman's biological son. At first glance, any Robin could be the unfavorite, considering how Batman treats them but there are Pet the Dog moments between Batman and the Robins. The true unfavorite is Damien, who Batman flat out refuses to acknowledge as his unless Talia produces a positive DNA test.
Kevin of Kevin & Kell faces this, exacerbated by being one of 38 siblings, meaning that he only stands out in the worst possible ways. As a child, he was looked down upon for being fearless (which is considered Too Dumb to Live by rabbits), and when he got older, he was disowned for marrying Kell, a predator.
Survival of the Fittest has Lyn "Laeil" Burbank. While actually a niece rather than a daughter, her uncle and aunt still give her the same unfavorite treatment, treating her like something that just has to be tolerated, while lavishing all their attention on her Jerk Jock cousin, Anthony, who regularily makes her life hell. Once she's on the island, though, it isn't long before she gets bloody revenge on him.
Azula, Zuko's little sister, is also an example, at least in her own mind: "My own mother...thought I was a monster." She tries to laugh it off at the time, but this perception of her relationship with her mother contributes heavily to her Villainous Breakdown in the series finale.
Except in her own mind her perception of her mother says that she always loved Azula. And in an earlier flashback she told Zuko to play with Azula, so it's not like she thought Azula should be shunned.
Ursa did love Azula. She was simply concerned about her budding little sociopath of a daughter. We see nothing in her onscreen behavior that says she thought Azula was "a monster". Can't help but wonder where the kid got the idea. Perhaps Ozai told her a few stories about "what your mother said when you weren't around" so he could guarantee that he was Azula's Well Done Daughter Guy. Also, it's possible that "perception" was saying what the mentally broken Azula wanted it to say, not what she believed the real Ursa actually would say, and she knew it, which is why she got so upset. Word of God pretty much confirms this◊
Ozai himself, father of both of the above, used to be this too. After his older brother Iroh's son died, his father Azulon ordered him to kill Zuko to let him know what it feels like. To put this into perspective, though, Fire Lord Azulon only ordered this after Ozai tried to use his nephew Lu Ten's death as an excuse to steal his brother's birthright, and after he openly scoffed at Iroh's grief for his lost son causing him to abandon the siege of Ba Sing Se. Still...ouch! Of course, considering he was perfectly willing to kill Zuko, it probably wouldn't have done much good.
The series implies that Mai's parents treat their younger son Tom-Tom much better than her. When Mai was a little girl, she was forced to be stiff and rigid at all times, never showing any emotion, in case it damaged her father's political career (leading into her emotionally-stunted teenage years). By the time Tom-Tom was born, her father was already a governor and given control over an entire "colony" (said colony being a conquered Earth Kingdom City), so they're free to be more expressive and affectionate with him... and Mai is still neglected.
On the other hand, there's Ty Lee. Taking care of sextuplet daughters is no easy task, yeah, but Ty Lee herself felt so neglected that she ran away to a circus to get something similar to love and affection. Heck, in The Beach she angrily and tearfully confronts Mai on how she used to be an only kid and had her parents's attention, only for Mai to snarkily and bitterly point out the emotional neglect she dealed with.
Helga Pataki from Hey Arnold is the poster child for this trope, with her prettier, more intelligent, and away-at-college older sister Olga. Ironically, Olga herself confesses to Helga that she'd rather be this trope: her parents' excessive attention and ridiculously high expectations (especially Bob's) actually pushed her into a permanent neurosis and becoming an Extreme Doormat, while Helga might be ignored by them but is free to do whatever she wants.
Rugrats played with this a couple times. In one episode, Angelica convinces the twins Phil and Lil that every family has a Favorite and a Reject; each one spent the rest of the episode convinced that they were the Reject, and mistaking normal parental behavior as signs of this, until, in the end, they make up and decide to be Rejects together (and Angelica even decides to become a Reject). In another, Angelica's parents are going to have another baby, and she has a horrible dream about being rejected in favor of it (until it grows gigantic and tries to eat her).
Don't forget this was quite the plot point of the first Rugrats movie. After Dil's birth, Tommy felt abandoned by his parents and attempted to return him to the hospital with the help of his friends, only to later grow fond of Dil and accept him.
In one episode after the movie, Tommy starts to feel like the unfavourite out of his friends after Angelica teaches them how to cry and fake injuries to get attention from Tommy's parents, but Tommy won't do it. The parents are fussing over the other kids, but Stu does take a moment to apologise to Tommy and say he's glad there's nothing wrong with him. It's kind of sweet, but also sad.
An example of the second variant is in Metalocalypse: Pickles, the drummer of the most famous and successful band in history, lead singer of the (arguably) other most famous and successful band in history, apparent college graduate despite being an alcoholic since he was six, is still second in his parents' eyes to his brother, an ex-con who lives in their attic, sponges off everyone he knows, is responsible for destroying Australia, and works for the company Pickles owns.
Further expanded in Fatherklok, where Pickles' father straight out calls him trash.
And again in Motherklok, appropriately enough. Pickles still seeks the approval of his mother, despite the fact that no matter what he does, even when it's exactly what she says he should do, she isn't satisfied. He finally tells her to go f*riff* herself at the end of the episode.
Sometime between the original run of Family Guy and the current series, Meg Griffin went from mildly ignored to outright hated by the rest of her family (caused in part by the running joke that Meg may or may not be the result of an affair Lois had behind Peter's back,) which in turn cost her a chance to become an Olympic swimmer. Lampshaded in that the show itself has pointed out her unpopularity via doing an entire episode around the family being the subject of a reality tv show. In the episode, the people filming the Griffins point out that Meg is the least liked member of the family, resulting in her being replaced with an attractive actress. And this episode was before the Un-Cancelled portion.
You could go on for days about the Comedic Sociopathy Peter and Lois inflict on poor Meg. Lois in particular; she tried to steal Meg's boyfriend in one episode, couldn't even say "I love you" to the girl on her own wedding day, and tried to get her to kill herself*
She left a bottle of sleeping pills and an Emily Dickinson book next to Meg and said "Whatever happens, happens" in a bored tone of voice
. In one memorable episode, Meg calls them and Chris out on how they treat her like shit despite being disgusting, horrible excuses for human beings... but then goes right back to being their punching bag after seeing that without her as a common "enemy", the family would rip each other to shreds.
Hints from the show and Word Of God imply that Candace may possibly feel like this trope, but the Flynn-Fletcher family actually averts this trope, with the parents love their children and stepchildren equally.
In Wolverine and the X-Men, Magneto rules Genosha with his two daughters, Lorna/Polaris and the Wanda/Scarlet Witch, by his side. Pietro/Quicksilver, meanwhile, is back in the US running the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants until he's "proved himself" to his father.
In X-Men: Evolution, Magneto basically dumps Wanda in an insane asylum when she's 8 or so. His reasoning was that unlike her brother, her powers would have eaten away at too much of his time. Later when she comes after him wanting revenge, he decides to have a psychic alter her memories to make her less likely to come after him. He still never visits her though (Unlike her brother, who was given a cell phone so they can keep in touch).
Which of the twins are the Unfavourite changes with the medium and writer... though generally it doesn't really matter who is less loved because Magneto is almost always a terrible father to both of them, regardless of writer or medium. To be somewhat fair, in the original continuity, he didn't even meet them until they were almost adults, and didn't discover that they were actually his children until even later... but that poofs away because he still treated them like crap even before knowing it. Only in the animated 90's series he is given a consistently more sympathetic POV about it.
In the Animated Series of Disney's Hercules, one episode centered around Phil, Herc's Satyr Mentor, coming to terms with his mother always raising his brother (a door-to-door shoe salesman) onto a pedastal. At the end of the episode they learn she was doing it on purpose to keep him from getting a big head, and the brother always got the same treatment.
The very end of that same episode hints that Phil's sister gets the same treatment. Pretty fair all around.
It depends on the writer, but each of The Simpsons kids has, at one point or another, been treated as the unfavorite. Lisa's most often made this (what with Bart being a hellion, Maggie an infant in need of constant care, and the whole family being average or stupid except for her), which is spoofed in the "Sherry Bobbins" episode. She sings, "I'm getting used to never getting noticed!" But there's also the running gag of Homer forgetting Maggie exists ("We have three kids!" "Marge, the dog doesn't count!") and while strangulation does technically count as giving Bart attention...
In one flashback episode, the parents meet with Bart's school counselor to try to help him be less miserable in school, only to discover Lisa is a prodigy and immediately write Bart off.
Homer: Face it, Bart's six. His life is over. Lisa is the wave of the future!
Lifeline from the G.I. Joe series is a latecomer to this trope, having become the Unfavourite of his all-pacifist family when he joined a military organization. Never mind that he's a field medic who never carries weapons or participates in combat, the fact it's soldiers he saves is enough to earn him the permanent silent treatment from his relatives.
Hank Venture from The Venture Brothers. While in the first season Dr. Venture seemed equally neglectful towards both sons, the following ones made his Parental Favoritism towards Dean more and more apparent. This has become especially prominent in season 4 after the clone slugs were destroyed and Brock left - Dr. Venture wised up and decided to be more fatherly, but only towards Dean.
In a recent episode, when tricked into thinking he's been kidnapped along with the boys, Dr. Venture even tells the kidnappers to torture Hank but not Dean. Later he explains that he suggested that because Hank could deal with it while Dean, the more immature of the two, would take it way too seriously. He also explains that the reason he's so hard on Hank is because he reminds him of himself when he was younger (after hearing this, Hank doesn't quite seem to know how to feel about it). Also it should be mentioned that being his dad's favorite is probably screwing up Dean worse.
In truth, it frequently zigzags between the two of them. Dr. Venture seems to prefer Hank in an adventuring context, and Dean in a scientific context. Needless to say, he's not the greatest father.
Hank Hill from King of the Hill is the Unfavorite of his two brothers. His older brother, an illegitimate child born of Cotton Hill's affair with a woman in Japan, gains a surprising amount of affection since his mother is perhaps the only person Cotton ever genuinely loved. His younger brother Good Hank was born when Cotton was in his seventies, and at the right age to appreciate having children. Meanwhile, Hank was born in a bathroom in New York, not Texas, and Cotton never quite forgave him for failing to be a native Texan, hating him literally since the day he was born. Being saddled with a Jerkass father like Cotton affected Hank well into adulthood and left him with his uptight, close-minded personality.
Before Evil Con Carne was cancelled, and The Grim Adventures Of Billy And Mandy became their separate series, one episode involved a father, his older and younger sons, and their pet weasel accidently finding themselves trapped on Evil Con Carne's island. Needless to say, the father had a less than favorable relationship (on his part) with his older son, whom he showed was willing to allow being potentially tortured by Con Carne and his cohorts when forcing his obedience. This is of course played for laughs. He even entrusts the pet WEASEL to drive the boat away from Con Carne's island to safety.
Saranoia and Carl from the show Yin Yang Yo are both the unfavorites to their parent(s). It caused Saranoia to go quite insane while Carl has yet to go down that road, he's just very lonely and desperate.
In Pepper Ann, Nicky is convinced she's the Unfavorite, though a lot of it is circumstantial (and the fact that people other than her parents really do tend to favor her sister). For example, when they were kids, the exercise equipment was put in Nicky's room... because it was either put it there or in her sister's room, and they feared the sister, who has very weak arms, would be much more insulted by it than the surprisingly-strong Nicky.
In The Buzz On Maggie Jerk Jock Aldrin is revealed to be this. He's spent at least 8 summers as the work force on his Uncle's farm while his younger, cuter siblings Maggie, and later, Pupert are given the Favorite Hat and all the privileges related to it. The first time the Uncle looks like he's going to praise Aldrin for developing more muscles, he ruins the moment by determining this means the teenager can do even MORE heavy-lifting. It's much better at home, where all children are given praise and acceptance at some point. The Mom does express more concern about Aldrin's grades than she does over Maggie's (but then again, Aldrin may need a tutor to maintain eligibility for sports) but she also praises her son for taking an after-school job in fast-food. Still, the Uncle's behavior goes a long way towards explaining Aldrin's "Look at me!" attitude and tendency to show off.
A large part of the plot of the first Franklin movie, Franklin and the Green Knight, is Franklin worrying that he'll become this when his new baby sister is born. This worry is only increased when everyone fawns over the upcoming baby during a baby shower. Later, this fear is soothed when he meets an armadillo with a baby brother who tells him that his parents have enough love for both him and his brother. Franklin's friend Snail has a similar fear - he worries that Franklin won't have any time for him once the baby is born. Oh, and Franklin's worries being soothed turns out to be reasonable, as there is no evidence in the fifth and sixth seasons of the show (both of which feature a version of Franklin's new sister, Harriet, that is able to talk and walk), that either child is treated as a favorite.
An episode of American Dad has Stan trying to get rid of his annoying Chinese in-laws by convincing Francine that they prefer their birth daughter Gwen to her. She really starts believing it when they find the parents' will and discover that everything goes to Gwen. But even after being thrown out, Francine's father comes back to save Stan from a burning building, and he explains the will by saying that Gwen is an Asian Airhead who needs all the help she can get, but Francine is intelligent and can take care of herself, and married a good man, so they don't worry about her.
Suga Mama on The Proud Family tends to favor her son, Bobby over Oscar, despite the fact that Oscar is clearly the more successful of the two. Then again, Oscar is the Butt Monkey of the series. It's later revealed that Suga Mama went through the same thing with her sister Spice, who got the family's heriditary psychic power while she did not.
In the same episode with Spice in a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming Suga Mama stands up for Oscar, showing him that while she doesn't always like him she will always love him.
In an episode of Jonny Quest The Real Adventures, Jonny is trapped in a hallucination where he thinks he is the unfavorite and that his father prefers Jessie. This ends when his father punches the hallucination's lights out.
A rather weird example with Uncle Ruckus in The Boondocks. He was the Unfavourite to his father, yet the favorite to his mother.
In Camp Lazlo, there are strong indications that Edward is this in his family.
Robot Default of Robot And Monster is typically overlooked by his mother in favor of his Aloof Big Brother Gart, who also owns the family's blinking light factory after having it handed down from their father, primarily because Robot's inventions tend to rarely work as intended and he has a knack for accidentally embarrassing the family name. In the episode "Family Business" it's suggested she actually does care for him somewhat; when he finds a piece of a family painting with himself on it in her chest compartment it's later revealed that it's only there so her insides don't clunk, then when Gart is about to tell Robot she decides to let him keep thinking what he thought at first, feeling he deserves it for his earlierBatman Gambit that showed he cares for his family regardless of how they treat him.
PJ on Goof Troop, while treated fairly by his mother, is routinely emotionally and financially abused by his father who repeatedly spoils his sister, Pistol, and, on one occasion, rejects him in favor of his best friend. In the episode "And Baby Makes Three" he tries extra hard to avoid becoming this compared to the new baby, as does Pistol eventually, but he and she both seem to take it for granted that she is already treated better.
A lot of kids have suspicions that they might be this.
That being said, in all likelihood there are probably a number of Unfavourites in the big bad world.
A recent study—yes, an actual, academic study—indicated that most parents do, in fact, have favorites. Equal treatment or attempts at same aside, most people are people and just relate more to one kid or the other, and therefore prefer to spend time with him or her and pursue their shared interests. In order to have a favorite/unfavorite dynamic at least two siblings must exist. Therefore, all other things being equal (though perhaps this is unrealistic), you have exactly a 50% chance of being the favorite. Doing the math to figure out what the actual probability of being the favorite assuming there must be at least one favored and one non-favored for larger sets of siblings is left as an exercise to the reader.
It's entirely possible to have more than half of the population the "unfavorite" if families have more than one child, or even if they have only one seeing as how you don't actually need siblings to be an unfavorite child.
Sadly, Truth in Television. If the child shows signs of disobedience, has strong opinions, strong will, does not live up to expectations of his parents, fails to perform well in school, hobbies, social circles or does not fulfill the parents' demands, he has good chances of ending up as the Unfavourite.
This often happens to children with sexuality or gender issues.
Many times the favorite can be the child who is always in trouble as they are often seen as the baby, or needing extra attention, while the harder working and smarter child has more pressure constantly put on them.
Very often children with disorders of autism spectrum end up as The Unfavourite, especially if the condition is not diagnosed.
A lot of families do have these, particularly if they were hoping for a child of a certain gender- For example, if a family wanted one boy, one girl, and the firstborn was a girl so the second one was supposed to be a boy, but turned out not to be, then there would likely be a great deal of resentment against her.
In any case, in families that are poorer, oftentimes when they have one child, they'll be able to afford new clothes and such for that child, but when the second one comes along being able to afford to take care of both will undoubtedly be harder, so the second child ends up with a lot of hand-me-downs from their older sibling, which can lead to them feeling like they are loved less, particularly when they're at an age when they can't really understand financial issues.
If one child has some sort of disability or chronic illness, then the other siblings can often feel like this, due to the extra time, attention, and focus that the child with needs gets.
According to the history... Date Masamune, despite being the rightful heir of the Date clan and quite liked by his father, is the Unfavourite for his mother. Thanks to him plucking his eye out, she has deemed him unworthy to inherit the clan and favors his younger brother. This has gotten so bad that at one point his mother tries poisoning his food just so he'd die and his brother could take over. Masamune's response? Kill his brother just so his mother can see him rule, like it or not. After his father's death, he ends up banishing his mother to her home clan (his allies, which also goes on to be one of his most trusted allies in Sekigahara).
Wilhelm felt very close and dearly loved his grandmother Victoria, who died in his arms. It would seem she got along better with him than with her son, the Prince of Wales, who appears to have been her least favourite child. Wilhelm on the other hand occupied a special space in her heart because he was the only one of her grandchildren who remembered her late husband, Prince Albert. This may have contributed to the deep antipathy between Edward VII and Wilhelm II. And it was George V who declared war on Wilhelm, not the other way around.
A lot of the bitterness between Wilhelm and his mother can be put down to Bismarck's political maneuvers. Victoria, Princess Royal/Empress Frederick, was a liberal, as was Wilhelm's father. Bismarck saw that when the Crown Prince came to the throne he would be ousted and so set to work distancing the oldest surviving children (Wilhelm, Charlotte and Heinrich) from their parents and succeeded. It backfired on him eventually but the damage couldn't be undone. When Bismarck saw the writing on the wall for him he went to Victoria and tried to get Wilhelm to keep him but she just replied that there was no chance of that since there was no relationship between herself and her son. Bismarck had seen to that. It also stopped Wilhelm from listening to the liberals and pushed him into the arms of the military and while he was the favourite of his grandparents it did nothing to stop his ego from getting too big and being a major factor in starting WW1. He apparently tried to bully his relatives and did nothing to endear himself to them which wouldn't make him popular in anyone's family. Even with historial revision there's very little evidence that any of his outer family liked him.
Frederick III's reputation as a liberal was exaggerated due to the way his diaries were heavily edited when they were published. And the bitterness between Wilhelm and his mother was less due to Bismarck's manoeuvers than these manoeuvers were made possible by the existing coldness and distance between the the two. That the dour Calvinist Georg Hinzpeter was appointed governor to Wilhelm and his brother Heinrich was Vicky's own choice, it was she who wanted to impose an even stricter regime on her sons than the one her father had imposed on her brother Edward. Left to the tender "mercies" of their harsh taskmaster, Wilhelm and Heinrich felt little better than prisoners.
Lindsay Lohan's siblings Cody (aka Dakota), Ali and Michael Jr. are apparently this to their father.
In certain cultures, daughters.
In some countries, it is common for women to have abortions if the child is the "wrong gender."
This has actually gone so far in mainland China as to have started to flip the preferred gender—used to be, sons were preferred because they could continue the family line. Now, however, Gender Rarity Value has kicked in: it's become rather expensive to marry off a son.
It's possible to get permission to have a second child.
Or if you are rich enough to not care about fines/state taxes/additional expenses/etc., as many as you can afford.
Chinese traditionally favored large families, and in relation to this trope, gives a bigger pool to choose the Favorite or Heir from. You sure as heck don't want the LEAST qualified running things in the next generation.
As shown in her book Chinese Cinderella, Adeline Yen Mah was quite obviously the Unfavorite of her entire family despite being very intelligent, simply because her mother died giving birth to her and thus she was considered "unlucky". Her stepmother hated her most of all (though she also clearly favored her own two children over her stepchildren) because she stopped the stepmother from hitting the youngest sister. The rest of the book details the various circumstances the poor girl finds herself in, as everyone shoves her one way and another to get rid of her.
In a supremely irony-filled example (as chronicled in Freakonomics), there's the case of Richard Lane, who named one of his sons "Winner" and another younger son "Loser". "Loser" ended up becoming a police officer in New York City. "Winner" became a career criminal. Yeah...
Though the father claims he didn't give Loser's name because of this: apparently he enjoyed the book endeffect.
David Pelzer, author of 'A Child Called It', was this until he was removed from his family. His mother took out her rage on him, resulting in one of the worst cases of child abuse in California history, and took care of the other children. Sadly, her anger didn't end when Dave was removed from the home...she started abusing his brother Richard when her favorite target was gone.
Urban Dictionary: Middle Child Syndrome - "it is a known fact the youngest and oldest are treated differently than the middle child for the oldest is the first child aka favorite and the smallest is the baby aka the last child known for getting whatever they desire because they are the "baby". Middle Children sydrome includes neglect, forgotten dates, and sometimes in bad cases forgetting they even exist."
One of the possible reasons that Salvador Dali grew up so weird is that before he was born, his parents had another child that died at one or two years old, and they were pretty upfront about how perfect the first kid would have been and how the second was his replacement. Also not helping: the dead one had also been named Salvador.
The example in The King's Speech in the Film section above is pretty much truth in television. George V once said something along the lines of "I hope to God Edward never marries and nothing comes between Bertie and Lilibet (Albert, later George VI, and his daughter Elizabeth) and the throne." Edward was even Unfavorite to his own government, who were pretty quick to put the ultimatum to him when he finally gave them an excuse.