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Why Are You Not My Son?
Norman Osborn: Peter! Good to see you! Here to help Harry, eh?
Peter Parker: We help each other, Mr. O.
Norman Osborn: Now, now, Peter, modesty doesn't become men like us. Smart, driven, responsible. Self-made.
Peter Parker: I'm...more of a work in progress.
Norman Osborn: (With a significant glance at Harry) At least you're making progress.

A type of being The Unfavorite in which a character's parent compares them negatively to one of their friends. It is very common for the character in question to make a Face-Heel Turn because of this, and become antagonistic towards the friend. The extent to which the parent shows this attitude tends to vary, ranging from an unconscious preference for the friend to an openly antagonistic attitude towards their own child.

Contrast Like a Son to Me.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Reed Richard's father in Ultimate Fantastic Four blatantly prefers the more athletic Ben Grimm to his own genius son.
  • Ditto Norman Osborne / Green Goblin preferring Peter Parker / Spider-Man to his son Harry in Ultimate Spider-Man.
  • In Batman: Heart of Hush, Tommy Elliot's mother constantly praises Bruce Wayne as an intelligent, successful man of the world while keeping her own son under her thumb and getting in the way of his own dreams of success. Tommy grows increasingly frustrated by this, especially since he thinks of Bruce as a spoiled playboy.
  • This was the Freudian Excuse of 90s Superman enemy Kenny Braverman / Conduit, who was convinced Clark was always one step ahead of him as teens because his powers had already manifested. Superman was pretty disgusted to find Kenny's dad still disparaging him after his death.

    Film 
  • Norman Osborn in the first Spider-Man film is a more unintentional example, clearly impressed by Peter's brilliance and implicitly comparing his own son, Harry, negatively to Peter. As everyone knows, Norman becomes the villain the Green Goblin, and Harry ends up going crazy and following in his father's footsteps.
  • The movie O is Othello set at a high school, and has the Iago character as the son of a coach and the Othello equivalent being his favorite player. Unlike the original play, this makes "Iago", if not sympathetic, at least relatable rather than acting For the Evulz.
  • In Cowboys and Aliens, Colonel Dollarhyde tells Nat, his son's Indian friend, that he wishes he had a son like him.
  • In Green Lantern, Hector Hammond's father prefers Hal Jordan, a "doer", over Hector, a "thinker".

    Literature 
  • Alex Rider: A variant that does not include the villain being disappointed in his actual son is seen in Skeleton Key. In fact, Alexei Sarov takes a liking to Alex specifically because he reminds him of his (deceased) son. Eventually, Sarov starts trying to convert Alex to be his Replacement Goldfish.
  • To an extent, Ron encounters this in Harry Potter. He already feels like The Unfavorite compared to his six siblings, but there are also some moments where his parents dote on Harry and he feels slighted. From a more objective perspective, however, one could easily see that his parents care about him too—they just feel more sorry for Harry because he has no loving family of his own.
    • This even comes up in Riddle Locket's Breaking Speech: the locket conjures up an illusion of Harry who claims (among other things) that Mrs. Weasley confessed to loving him more, while mockingly asking Ron why she wouldn't.
    • Ron gets off easy compared to Neville. In addition to the pressure of living up to his Auror parents, his grandmother likes to ask him why he couldn't be more like Harry (and she only speaks to him once in the series). At the start of book six, Professor McGonagall tells Neville that it's time his grandmother started appreciating the grandson she had instead of the one she thought she ought to have. It's a Crowning Moment Of Heart Warming when his grandmother finally says how proud of him she is.
  • In Clan Of The Cave Bear, Brun shames his son Broud by referring to Ayla, a girl, as the son he should have had.

    Live Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Kendra and Giles hit it off straight away, much to Buffy’s annoyance.
  • There's a comic twist on this in Harry Enfield and Chums. In one of the Kevin and Perry sketches Kevin's parents ask him why he has to be so rude and nasty to them all the time, unlike the shy and polite Perry. Of course this is immediately subverted when Kevin takes a phone call from Perry's parents and becomes shy and polite while talking to them, then puts Perry on who is immediately rude and nasty to them.
  • Subverted in the episode dealing with Daedalus and Icarus in The Storyteller. Daedalus is frustrated by his son Icarus' clumsiness and lack of inventive genius. A cousin comes to stay with them who does have this brilliance and attracts Daedalus' favor. The twist, is that although he acts like a "Well Done, Son" Guy towards Icarus, Daedalus "accidentally-on-purpose" kills his nephew, both because he reminds him of disappointment in his own son, and because he sees him as a rival.
    • This also happened in the actual myths and was much less "accidental."
  • In Kings, the ruling King Silas prefers David to his son Jack because Jack's homosexuality and generally hedonistic lifestyle prevents him from being capable of taking over the kingdom.
    • The plot being lifted from the story of Saul, Jonathan, and David from The Bible makes this Older Than Feudalism.
  • Heroes: In series one, Sylar seemed to be under the impression that Chandra initially preffered him to Mohinder. At least, that's what Sylar tells Mohinder.
  • Tripp on Dirty Sexy Money certainly seems to prefer Nick over all of his own children.
  • In the first series of Skins, Sid's episode shows that his father clearly prefers Tony over him.
  • In Season 1 of Gossip Girl, Eleanor is more friendly to and seems to favor Serena over her daughter, Blair.
  • A subversion on Glee: Burt Hummel is quite accepting of his Camp Gay son Kurt, even though he's a fairly masculine man himself. But when Finn becomes his stepson, Burt and Finn start bonding over their similar interests, and Kurt fears that this trope is occurring, until his father assures him that though he may not always understand Kurt, he always loves him. Burt even chews out Finn for using a homophobic slur against Kurt, though he later chews out Kurt as well when he learns why Finn was so upset with Kurt.
  • Completely averted in Kaamelott; where Leodagan already finds his own son Yvain a complete disappointment (imagine the kind of lazy and selfish teenager incapable of grasping his lack of talent and has no plans for the future), and sees Yvain's best friend Gauvain as equally annoying (now imagine two of them).
  • Downplayed in the Doctor Who episode "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship"; Rory's dad Brian is not nearly as bad to him as some of the parents on this list, but he still clearly looks down on him a bit. Rory's wife Amy, on the other hand:
    [Brian is tinkering with a light fitting while Rory and Amy hold the ladder steady]
    Brian: I think it's the fitting.
    Rory: Dad, it's not the fitting. It just needs a new bulb.
    Brian: You're wobbling the ladder.
    Rory: I'm not!
    Brian: I don't want another loft incident.
    Amy: How's my side, Brian?
    Brian: Perfect as ever, Amy.
    Amy: [With a smug look at Rory] Thank you, Brian.
    [Rory mimicks her petulantly]

    Tabletop Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: Vuel is Sidar Kondo's real son, Gerrard his adopted son. When Gerrard inadvertently makes Vuel fail his Rite of Passage, Kondo rejects him, and he eventually turns into Volrath, Gerrard's eventual mortal enemy.

    Theater 
  • They aren't necessarily friends, but in Shakespeare's Henry IV Part 1, the titular king openly compares his son Harry to rebel leader Hotspur and considers the latter far superior.

    Video games 
  • Heihachi Mishima of Tekken has this opinion of Paul Phoenix and hates his real son Kazuya, though that might have something to do with Kazuya constantly trying to kill him.
  • Hwang in the Soul Series. Seung Han Myong basically treats him like the son he never had, and whilst he loves his daughter Seung Mina, will not allow her to go out to fight because it wasn't considered proper for a woman to do so in Korea at the time.

    Webcomics 
  • This Channelate strip takes it to hilarious extremes.
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: U18 Vegeta appears to have this briefly when he see's how strong U16 Bra is, and gets annoyed with his own daughter when she rejects his suggestion for her to train to get as strong as her counterpart.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of King of the Hill, Dale starts teaching Bobby acting and Hank starts teaching Dale's son lacrosse in a variant of this trope.
  • One SpongeBob SquarePants episode has Spongebob trying to act very mature, and his grandmother pampering Patrick instead. Spongebob ends up breaking into tears and admitting he likes being babied.
  • The Spectacular Spiderman also uses the Norman Osborn favoring Peter plot, but this version of Norman is much more malicious and openly demeans his son.
  • Recess, "More Like Gretchen": Gretchen and Spinelli spend the day with Spinelli's parents, who can't stop gushing about Gretchen.
  • On one episode of The Replacements, Riley goes to Canada on an exchange program and the boy from Canada who arrives to live with the Darlings ends up being so well liked that the family neglects Todd.
  • In American Dad!, this comes about after Steve complains about Stan forcing him to get involved with his interests. As a result, Stan takes an interest in Steve's friend Barry. It goes From Bad to Worse when Barry stops taking his anti-psychotic medication and decides to eliminate Steve from the picture.
  • On Young Justice, Icicle Sr. praises Tommy Terror (actually Superboy in disguise) and compares him favorably to his son, Tommy/Superboy's cellmate Icicle Jr.
    • Robin seems to feel this way in "Downtime" when Batman takes Aqualad aside for a private talk, even though it's not really the case (Bat's actually chewing out Aqualad). Bruce later mends things with a pick-up basketball game.
  • In an episode of Goof Troop, Pete and his son PJ's best friend Max end up paired up on an RV project. Pete compliments Max for his insight and wonders aloud why PJ can't be more like Max. Pete probably didn't know PJ was listening in on that conversation, but later in the episode he blatantly rejects PJ in favor of Max multiple times. Generally speaking, however, Pete doesn't favor Max over PJ—he usually treats both of them with hostility.
  • Yet another Spider-Man example: Norman thinks this of Peter in Ultimate Spider-Man, though it's somewhat mitigated by the fact that this version Norman does care about his own son, Harry. Becomes blatant in the episode "Carnage" though:
    Goblin/Norman: Ah, Welcome home, son.
    Peter: What do you want? Let me go. Did you just say "son"?
    Goblin: The son I've always wanted. Harry and I share a few recessive genes, but nothing more. You're smarter, more driven. And as a wimpy, defenseless kid, you appreciate power. You can be a greater creation than the late, great Spider-Man."


Where Did We Go Wrong?Parental IssuesWhy Couldn't You Be Different?

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