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Playing With: Middle Child Syndrome
Basic Trope: The middle child is favoured the least.
  • Straight: Alice and Bob have three children from the oldest: Charlie, Daniel and Ethan. Daniel is neglected the most.
  • Exaggerated:
    • Alice and Bob have seven children from the oldest: Charlie, Daniel, Ethan, Flower, Gerald, Hillary and Igor. Flower is neglected the most.
    • Same as above, except only Charlie and Igor get attention. (Igor could be a Magical Seventh Son.)
    • Alice and Bob have lots of children. The one right in the middle of the birth order is neglected.
  • Downplayed: Alice and Bob have three children from the oldest: Charlie, Daniel and Ethan. They treat them with love and care; just that Charlie and Ethan gets more attention than Daniel.
  • Justified:
    • As the oldest, Charlie will be taking on Bob's legacy. As the youngest, Ethan gets to be pampered and babied. Daniel is neither, so naturally, he is neglected the most.
    • Daniel is average but Charlie and Ethan have some combination of:

      A) Charlie and Ethan have learning difficulties.
      B) Charlie and Ethan are physically disabled.
      C) One of each.
      D) Some other combination that logically results in a necessity of parental attention skewed away from Daniel.

      It's not unfairness - just a fact of life.
  • Inverted: Daniel is pampered and supported the most, while Charlie and Ethan are neglected.
  • Subverted: Daniel complains about this and the counselor confronts his parents about it. Alice and Bob claim otherwise.
  • Double Subverted: Because as far as they're concerned, they only have two children.
  • Parodied: ???
  • Zig Zagged: Alice and Bob have seven children from the oldest: Charlie, Daniel, Ethan, Flower, Gerald, Hillary and Igor. Charlie, Flower, and Igor get attention, while the other four are neglected.
  • Averted:
    • All three children are treated equally; that is, they are all either supported or neglected.
    • None of the characters have more than one sibling.
  • Enforced: The middle child is the main/viewpoint character and it's more dramatic and/or funnier if he's the fall guy.
  • Lampshaded: "Sometimes I like being the middle child. I can get away with stuff."
  • Invoked: Daniel makes an effort not to draw attention to himself.
  • Exploited: Daniel misbehaves behind Alice and Bob's back, knowing they wouldn't care about what he is doing anyway.
  • Defied: Alice and Bob both make sure to treat all of their children equally.
  • Discussed: "No, my parents don't abuse or neglect me just become I'm the second child! What a silly notion."
  • Conversed: "There they go again, leaving Daniel out because he's the middle child."
  • Implied: Alice and Bob are shown buying toys and candy for Charlie and Ethan, but never for Daniel.
  • Played For Laughs: Alice tells a friend, "We're a pretty normal family of four - I mean, five."
  • Played For Drama: Daniel dies of neglect, while Alice and Bob don't get arrested because they (supposedly) didn't know he existed.

Back to Middle Child Syndrome

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