Playing With / The Dutiful Son

Basic Trope: Character who loyally stays and does his job while their prodigal sibling runs off into the spotlight.
  • Straight: Bob and Charles are brothers; Charles runs off to chase his dreams of excitement and adventure while Bob follows his parents' wishes and tends the farm. When Charles finally returns after becoming a hero, Bob still calls him out for abandoning them before welcoming him home.
  • Exaggerated: Bob does anything and everything his parents order him to do, while Charles Jumped at the Call. When Charles comes back after saving the world, Bob punches the lights out of him.
  • Downplayed: In order to play the dutiful son, Bob is forced to sacrifice his own dreams and settle in. He nurses a grudge towards Charles for this, seeing his brother as selfish and irresponsible, but eventually forgives him after he returns.
  • Justified: The sadness of Charles' departure sent their mother to an early grave, and made their father go near catatonic. Bob had to pull through and keep the farm going and support their family all on his own. Charles shows no appreciation of Bob's sacrifices when he returns, and rubs his brother's nose in the fact that he's still the favourite.
  • Inverted: Their parents want both to leave and pursue their dreams, but Bob becomes a loafer and mooches off their parents, and gets angry at Charles for becoming successful.
  • Subverted:
    • Both Bob and Charles leave to pursue their dreams, ignoring their other responsibilities.
    • Bob is hardworking, ambitious and eager to take over the family estate. He doesn't mind at all when Charles leaves to pursue his dreams, since they both know Bob would do a better job at it anyway, and the brothers part amiably.
  • Double Subverted:
    • ...However, Bob is soon overcome by guilt and returns home, becoming The Atoner as well as the dutiful son.
    • Bob finds himself threatened by an evil villain who's trying to loot or conquer the family holdings. Being a Non-Action Guy, there's not a lot that Bob can do to protect himself. That's when Charles returns, having taken a level in badass and able to use his fighting or legal skills to pull a dramatic rescue, saving Bob and the family estate. In that way, Charles himself also functions as a Dutiful Son, having helped out the family in a way only he could./
  • Parodied: Charles leaves the "stifling oppression" of his duties and abandons home to pursue adventure. These duties were actually really light, Bob has a blast and Charles ends up going through a stream of bad and worse jobs because his quitter attitude never let him succeed. When he finally crawls back, Bob pretends to be suffering horribly and tells Charles that he's a bigshot.
  • Zig Zagged: Charles leaves and everyone disapproves, except his parents are secretly proud of him for leaving, but Bob really does hate him, except it's for not being a bigger success after leaving...
  • Averted: Their parents give them the freedom to choose to stay or go, and explain they can always hire help, but no one can lead their children's lives for them.
  • Enforced: We need a tense family setting without lots of psychological trauma, so lets make one of the kids be a runaway.
  • Lampshaded: Bob teases Charles that he should be wearing a business suit, and Charles is glad that Bob isn't going on about him leaving.
  • Invoked: Alice wants to drive a wedge between Charles and Bob, so she tries to make Bob jealous that Charles left.
  • Exploited: Bob has a plan to guilt-trip his parents into leaving him the whole farm, which he's always had his eye on anyway, by playing the suffering martyr.
  • Defied: Both brothers agree that one of them has to stay to help out, and the other should go into the world to make money to further help their parents. They amicably decide that Charles has the best chance of making a go on the outside, while Bob least dislikes being dutiful.
  • Discussed: "I know my parents will be happy to see me. I wonder about Bob though — I kinda left him in the lurch."
  • Conversed: "Know why it's always portrayed as demeaning to be the son who stays home and looks after the parents? Because that's the daughter's job!"
  • Implied: Bob's repression is so ingrained that he never mentions his feelings to anyone — but when you see the way the whole family overlooks him at every turn, the way he's always working away doing what's best for them and never showing a moment's care for his own happiness, and the jealous looks he gives Charles when he's greeted as a returning hero, it all speaks volumes.
  • Deconstructed: Without Charles around, Bob shoulders all the responsibilities his brother left behind; their parents drive him harder, wanting to ensure they "do things right" with him even while wondering whatever became of their wandering child. Discovering himself to be The Unfavorite despite doing everything his parents wished of him, Bob grows sick with jealousy and pent-up resentment. When Charles comes marching back into their lives, bursting with tales of glory... Bob can't even enjoy the catharsis of calling him out, because he's spent his whole life telling himself never to make a fuss and upset the family. He just goes on suffering in silence and resenting everyone.
  • Reconstructed: Bob realizes that, though his choice was hard, he has a clear conscience and doesn't hate Charles. On the other hand, Charles goes on to make his own life, and reconciles with the fact that you sometimes have to leave home behind. Both brothers come to an understanding, even though their parents still disapprove.
  • Played For Laughs: Bob is angry Charles left him alone. The responsibility is dull and crushing, and to top it off both their parents die of grief! When Charles hears he comes back for the funeral, expecting nothing but anger and resentment... only to be met with love and affection. It turns out their parents were so devastated they left the farm to Bob alone. Bob gets such a good price he can live in luxury, have his own adventures and pursue his own ambitions with much greater freedom than he could have otherwise. Charles on the other hand has made a mess of his life, and goes to work as a farm hand to the new owner.
  • Played For Drama:
    • Bob and Charles used to be close, but their relationship soured after Charles "ditched" their family and ran off. Years later, Charles returns only to find his brother is cold and distant towards him, acknowledging him as family but little else.
    • Bob resents Charles for escaping the family home and leaving him behind because they've both gone through a history of parental abuse.

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