Say youre a villain. Youre up against a team of heroes and you need a sure-fire way to rattle them. What do you do? Well, the best way to get everybody worked up is to threaten that character, the one who the whole team feels they need to protect. Congratulations, youve just found Everyone's Baby Sister (or brother).
When a Big Bad sets this character in their sights, it immediately becomes personal for every other character involved. Somehow, it never occurs to the Big Bad that this may well make the heroes more dangerous, not less.
Everyone's Baby Sister is most common in works where some of the characters do jobs that regularly put them in harms way and that exacerbate their protective instincts, and some of the characters work in safer environments where theyre not supposed to be at risk of physical harm. A team composed of law enforcement officials and scientists or analysts is common here. This character will typically be a younger character who is not usually in any sort of physical danger and, thus, may appear physically smaller and weaker than the other characters. Other characters will feel protective of this character because of a combination of their older age, superior physical strength, and sometimes their occupational responsibility. When something happens to a character and even the Jerkass is unsettled by it, you have a winner.
Sometimes these characters inspire this reaction because theyre impossible to dislike. Other times, the character really isnt very likable at all; it's just that the other characters feel responsible for him or her. Because main characters tend to be the Action Heroes, this character is more often a supporting character than a lead. By coincidence or design, these characters are often dorky Teen Genius types (or early to mid twenties genius, as the case may be), though this is certainly not a prerequisite. These characters also tend to be fan favorites, though this, again, is by no means, necessary. It is not unheard of for The Scrappy to fall under this trope. Whats important here is the reaction of the characters, not of the audience.
Note that this character does not actually have to be anyones sister, and a character who is someones sister is not guaranteed to fall under this trope.
- Casca in Berserk. When she's surrounded by enemies, the rest of the Band of the Hawk shows up to rescue her citing the fact that she's the only girl (even though she's the team's second-in-command with only two people able to beat her in combat). Later on, Schierke fits this role (like when Guts starts a Bar Brawl when a drunk gets too close to her), as Casca has regressed to a childlike state due to the events of the Eclipse.
- Chilchuck from Delicious in Dungeon. Despite him being a 29-year-old Halfling, Senshi treats him like a young child, much to his displeasure. At one point, Senshi even tried to teach him about "pistils and stamens", which horrifies Chilchuck no end. Chilchuck is later revealed to be married, and to have three daughters old enough to be independent, making him one of the most adult members of the group.
- Hikari in Digimon Adventure is forced into this position by virtue of being the villain's primary target for her entire introductory arc, well besides being The Leader Taichi's actual baby sister. Afterward, her status as the new kid, Mysterious Waif tendencies, suffering a relapse of the illness that prevented her from main character status in the first place, and then trying not to let on because of her selflessness cement it.
- Wendy in Fairy Tail is among the youngest members of the guild, and, being 12 at the start of the series, is several years younger than most of the current generation, who are roughly 16-18. As a result, she ends up serving this role to the others, particularly the "strongest team" of Natsu, Lucy, Gray and Erza - she says she considers her fellow Dragon Slayer Natsu to be like an older brother and in supplemental materials, the others are said to regard her as a younger sister.
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex has Togusa for Section 9. Partly because he's the team's only non-Cyborg member and partly because he has a family. This can be seen best in the episode "One Angry Man — TRIAL", where trying to drag Togusa's name through the mud leads a Domestic Abuser and his lawyer to suffer an unfortunate car accident.
- Alvis in Last Exile is the Living MacGuffin whom most of the series revolves around the other characters keeping away from the Guild. She's also a cute little girl that does cute things cutely, so she tends to inspire everyone to be protective and caring towards her beyond that.
- Mob of Mob Psycho 100 becomes one for the Body Improvement Club, which will rally to his defense without a second thought. The knowledge that he's an insanely powerful Psychic Child appears to have no ruling on this. Onigawara even weaponizes the club's protective tendencies by tricking a rival gang at Black Vinegar Middle School into taking him hostage, bringing the Body Improvement Club's wrath down on them.
- Haruhi from Ouran High School Host Club can be this to the members of the host club. While some of them actually have crushes on her and act out of jealousy, Haruhi is still a first-year (one of the youngest members) and all the guys are willing to go above and beyond to protect her at even the slightest inkling that she's in danger.
- Bonnie from the XY saga of Pokémon is Clemont's little sister, and his Big Brother Instinct is combined with similar protective feeling from Ash, Serena, and their Pokémon.
- Tama & Friends has the little kitten, Koma. Being the youngest and smallest among her cat and dog friends, everyone in Tama's group see her as their little sister.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! has Shizuka and Mokuba, both around thirteen years old and are constantly protected by the older members of the gang.
- Nightwing: Dick Grayson began as Batman's Kid Sidekick, which in contemporary continuity was between 10-15 years ago. This makes him one of the most known superheroes in the world despite his relatively young age, and one that all of his older colleagues are very proud of to see grown into a fine young hero. Thus, if Dick calls on any other superhero for help, they will usually come running. These same older heroes (and some Anti Villains, like Catwoman) will rain down the hurt on anyone who dares to harm Nightwing. Especially Batman. In his solo series, this has saved his life more than once, as small-time villains who had defeated Nightwing in combat deliberately let him live because they knew that wasn't the kind of heat they wanted to bring upon themselves.
- Kitty Pryde of the X-Men, who might be the closest to an Alternate Company Equivalent to Nightwing in this respect. She joined the X-Men when she was 13 as a rookie, and unlike the New Mutants, whom were her age but joined after, she trained directly with the main team and was close with each one.
- The X-Men actually made a trend of this, starting even before Kitty joined. In the original line-up, Jean Grey was the token female member of the team and had the weakest power, which prompted the boys to alternate between being protective big brother-like figures and being infatuated co-eds, and as they got older all but Cyclops grew to see her as their sister (Scott was the exception because instead, the two fell in love). After Jean was Kitty, then after Kitty, Jubilee joined and took on a similar role, followed then by Pixie fulfilling a similar role later.
- Similar to the X-Men, the Justice Society of America have done this since being revived in the 90s, and retooled so that, rather than simply be the Golden Age's primary team of heroes, the remaining members act as mentors and teachers to the legacies, proteges, and descendants of the original team and/or heroes they were friends with. Though they've had a few characters who fulfil the role, the original was Jesse Quick, while the most prominent and popular was Comic Book/Stargirl, whom pretty much everyone sees as either a surrogate daughter or a kid sister. She seems aware of this, and is often annoyed by it.
- Black Canary: Among the Justice Society of America she had something similar to the above prior to their reformation, as most of them have known her since she was born, so they see her as their niece. In JLA: Year One, her status as the only girl on the team and her youth (she was 19 at the time, while the others appeared to be in their 30s by comparison) lead to this, something she was vocally annoyed with as she frequently told them off for treating her like a damsel they had to protect. In Birds of Prey, though the Undying Loyalty goes both ways, Dinah being in danger seems to strike the biggest reaction from the others.
- Aviva Weinberg of Relative Heroes is literally the baby sister of her team as it's made up of her siblings. When the Weinbergs help with the invasion of Zandia several members of Young Justice and their allies make sure to keep her out of the line of fire or at least behind forcefields and bulletproof individuals since she is incredibly young for a superhero, even when compared to the rest of the group which is almost entirely made up of teenagers.
- In Runaways, Molly and Klara fill this role, to varying degrees - Molly is everyone's baby sister, but Klara is more of a little sister to Nico and Karolina, while Chase and Victor treat her more like a Ladette. Oddly enough, the baby sister aura even seems to affect other people in the Marvel universe - for instance, during Secret Invasion, Speed of the Young Avengers literally went out of his way to keep Molly and Klara safe during a battle with the Skrulls.
- Secret Avengers Vol 2 seemed to play Mockingbird like this during the "How to Maim a Mockingbird" arc. Hawkeye, her ex husband, was visibly torn up from seeing what happened to her during the arc, Black Widow stopped joking and talked to her the way a worried sister would when she realized the seriousness of the situation, and War Machine actually quit the team in protest and disgust at the fact Maria Hill allowed Mockingbird to get into that situation (and is joined with Hawkeye in this), while Maria Hill herself is clearly not happy with herself for allowing this to happen and makes a promise to find her. Even Taskmaster, the Token Evil Teammate, is pretty shocked to see how broken she is and is clearly concerned for her welfare.
- In Incarnation of Legends, Bell's young age, sincerity and sweetness elicit protective feelings from both the Hestia Familia and Astraea Familia. The normally cold and pragmatic Kaguya instantly leaps to Bell's defense when Bete mocks him as the weakling who ran in terror when Aiz showed up, drinking Bete under the table in the process.
- Cheedo the Fragile in Mad Max: Fury Road is the youngest of Immortan Joe's unwilling Wives and, as of the time of the film, the only one who hasn't already been raped by him due to being too young to breed, so the other Wives are extremely protective of her and try to shelter her from Joe's true monstrosity, which results in Stockholm Syndrome where Cheedo at one point attempts to turn herself into Joe while on the run. The prequel comic also shows that The Dag went so far as to directly interfere when Joe tried to rape Cheedo, and was savagely beaten for it, causing Cheedo to blame herself.
- On NCIS, the best way to make something personal for the entire team is to threaten Abby Sciuto. This can be seen when you compare an episode like "Bloodbath", where someone is after Abby, to episodes like "Frame Up", "Reveille", "Probie", and "Recoil", where the threats against Tony, Kate, McGee, and Ziva are taken seriously, but not as personally.
- Newcomer Ellie Bishop appears to be falling into this role too; everyone has taken her under their wing to some extent, and they've all expressed a desire to beat the tar out of her adulterous husband. When her three actual older brothers show up, they take the trope to its logical extreme.
- Firefly: Most of the time, when a crew member gets injured, it gets more or less shrugged off. When Kaylee gets shot in the pilot, it's a different story. Mal threatens to toss Simon into space if he fails to save her. Jayne, who rarely shows concern for anyone, immediately goes after the man who pulled the trigger.
Book: You're not going to kill this man.Jayne: Well, not right away.
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons both qualify as this trope. The other characters' reactions to their lives being endangered in "F.Z.Z.T." and "Beginning of the End" exceed what we've learned to expect when Coulson, May, Ward, and Skye risk their lives. Fitz and Simmons are the non-field agents on the team, and two of the youngest. In "F.Z.Z.T.":
May (of Simmons): She's only a kid.
- On Once Upon a Time, Henry is the only character who could have gotten Emma, Snow, Charming, Regina, Rumplestiltskin, and Hook on a ship to Neverland together. This may be a factor of his age and the fact that he's related to almost the entire main cast.
- Law & Order:
- This tends to happen with the Assistant District Attorneys. We've only really seen it played out with Claire Kincaid and Alexandra Borgia on the original Law & Order and Alex Cabot on Law & Order: SVU, but it did play out with all three of them.
- On Law & Order: UK with junior CP Alesha Phillips. The reactions from the rest of the team when she's raped make it obvious that harming her is a Berserk Button for them.
- Arrow: Despite Oliver Queen having a genuine little sister (Thea, whom he'll go to extreme lengths to protect) this role goes to Felicity Smoak instead. She's the only non-combatant on The Team, and Ollie and Diggle go to great lengths to ensure her safety and keep her hands clean.
- On a meta level, Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer - the writers quickly discovered that threatening her was one of the best ways to get the audience to react. An aphorism among the writing staff was "When in doubt, put Willow in danger".
- On Guiding Light, Abby (who was already this to the townspeople) was attacked and nearly raped by a gang member. When the rest of the gang began making threats to her in the hopes of preventing her from testifying, the Token Good Teammate (a) reminded them of what he'd done, clearly trying to invoke Even Evil Has Standards, and (b) informed them that, "You know who she looks like? Tony's (gang member's) sister. Might as well have been her he tried to mess with."
- Lucy Cooper falls into this role also, literally being this in the Cooper family.
- Dark Matter: Five, as the only non-criminal member of the crew, tends to be kept on the ship for her own safety most of the time, despite the fact that her technical expertise is extremely useful on the rare occasion she ends up on a mission. This creates the odd dichotomy that the crew both know how competent Five is but still treat her as younger than she really is. In "Wish I'd Spaced You When I Had The Chance," when Five gets kidnapped, Three asks around for the "little kid" he was with. A local who saw her get taken is bewildered, because while she's young, she's also clearly not a child.
- On General Hospital, local Mary Sue Robin was this to everyone in town. The trope was so deeply in place that when Carly came to town, the first indication that she was going to be a villainous-type was that not only did she dislike Robin, she couldn't understand why everyone else adored her.
- Community: As the youngest member of the study group, Annie Edison gets treated this way a lot, especially in early seasons (in later seasons she mostly proves that she's more mature than the rest of them). This causes friction with her primary love interest, Jeff, who is sixteen years older than her. Early on, he repeatedly uses her age as an excuse not to date her. In later seasons that excuse mostly disappears, and Jeff's self-loathing is the main thing that keeps them apart.
- Persona 4: Nanako Dojima, protagonist Yu Narukami's little cousin and the Justice Arcana. She's a surprisingly mature and diligent young girl who masks how terribly lonely she is since her mother died and her father, the protagonist's uncle and a police officer, dove into his work as a response. The protagonist quickly becomes the older brother she never had and his friends, the Investigation Team quickly come to view her in the same light as well because of her kindness and empathizing with her. When she seemingly dies in the hospital from exposure to the TV World, the team quite nearly lose it and seek to kill the one responsible. However, if you let them do this, this leads to a bad ending since he's not the true murderer. The good ending has the protagonist stop them when he realizes something's up. Your reward for this is her managing to make a full recovery, reducing the team to Tears of Joy.
- In Persona 5, Futaba appears to play a similar role, despite being older than Nanako (she's two years younger than Makoto and Haru, and one year younger than everyone else in the party). After saving Futaba from committing suicide by destroying the manifestation of her guilt over her mother's death, the rest of the Phantom Thieves bond with her, helping her to come out and see others, and eventually take her to the beach with them. During one randomly occurring exchange, while exploring Mementos, Makoto points out that seeing someone as cute as Futaba reminds her of the time when she wanted a younger sister.
- The new playable character Sophia in Persona 5 Strikers being both the newest Phantom Thief and an AI with little knowledge of but an earnest desire to learn about humanity, Sophia becomes this to the rest of the Thieves, who are extremely protective and supportive of her and her endeavors to learn about herself and human hearts. They do not take it kindly AT ALL (especially Ryuji) when the voice in the Okinawa Jail and Sophia's own creator Kuon Ichinose insult and declare her existence a mistake and meaningless.
- Merrill from Dragon Age II is this to most of the party. Only Fenris and Anders dislike her due to her use of Blood Magic.
- In a non-mage-Hawke playthrough, Bethany - who is Hawke's actual little sister - also qualifies whenever she's present. Everyone in the party likes her, including the staunchly anti-mage Fenris; Anders is lukewarm at worst. If she goes to the Circle instead of dying or joining the Grey Wardens, this trope remains in effect even after Act 1.
- Sheva Alomar of Resident Evil 5 is described as the "little sister" of her BSAA squad by her C.O. and mentor, being the youngest and greenest member. Of course, Chris Redfield is told of this long after she's ably demonstrated her own competence and badassery, and his survival depends on her throughout the mission as much as hers depends on him.
- Sachi from Raramagi, one of the youngest members of Music Club, is doted on◊ by almost every older member of the club. Combined with her being a sweet Nice Girl and innocent to the core, it's easy to see why everyone adores her. It becomes a plot point when she starts to act out of character due to Noise interfering during later chapters.
- Phym in God Eater 3 immediately becomes the darling of everyone in Chrysanthemum after she is rescued by the Protagonist from an attacking Anubis, and she is especially held dear by the Protagonist (who is her Parental Substitute) and Claire (who the narrative treats as her Cool Big Sis most of the time). When she is forcibly taken away by Dr. Inukai midway through the game, the Hounds immediately devise a plan to rescue her even if it means going against Gleipnir, and in the final part of the main story they even go against an Ash Tempest-corrupted Odin unit she is trapped in after she turned herself in to Gleipnir's command to prevent other AGEs from being used to power the Odin units.
- Watch_Dogs 2: The entire DeadSec Team is fiercely protective of Josh, a young man with high-functioning autism that joined them to fight back against Blume after CtOS ruined his life by branding him as unemployable.
- Stella Glow: Marie, an amnesiac little girl Alto found and took under the 9th Regiment's care, quickly becomes the emotional support to everyone in the Regiment, helping to lift everyone's spirits when they're down. Everybody on the team likes her and become extremely protective of her. Even Queen Anastasia likes her, comparing her to the little sister she never had and was considering adopting her as one. When Xeno takes her away in the endgame, the heroes are devastated, but quickly become determined to save once they're motivated.
- In Spirit Hunter: NG, everyone that Ami talks to has a soft spot for her, and her kidnapping by Kakuya is treated as unforgivable both by her cousin-turned-brother and his friends. Kaoru thinks she could become a good idol because she triggers a protective instinct in others.
- This is not an uncommon trope in otome games (dating games aimed at mainly heterosexual women.) Since the protagonist in these games is typically female and the player determines who she gets together with, all the dateable men (and even some dateable/friendship route women)like the main character and become fairly protective of her. This, in turn, means that any time a bad guy messes with the protagonist you can be sure one of, if not all of, the dateable characters will come after them, invoking this trope. This is particularly true in games like Code:Realize and London Detective Mysteria.
- In Darths & Droids, Ben's little sister Sally is initially brought to the group because he's forced to babysit her, but she quickly gets integrated into the game as Jar Jar Binks (and single-handedly makes the character enjoyable.) In the early strips when she was young, the GM and players tended to be protective of her, cheering her on and giving her extra chances at failed dice rolls.
- This is part and parcel of Piffany's Incorruptible Pure Pureness in Nodwick. For all that Artax and Yeager engage in Comedic Sociopathy on many others, they will not tolerate anyone being mean to her. Their Let's Get Dangerous! cry is "He/She/They made Piffany cry!"
- In Errant Story, Misa is this, very much against her will: she desperately wants to go out and have adventures like her idol Sarine, but because she's the youngest of all the pure-blood elvesnote and is considered to be of near-miraculous origins, the elves won't let her, even during their final, species-threatening battle. Finally averted, however, when at a key stage of the battle, Sarine herself starts treating her like a grown-up.
- SCP Foundation: SCP-085, "Cassie," is a living 2D drawing of a young woman who thought she was living a reasonably productive life in a post-apocalyptic wasteland until she found out the truth behind her situation. The Foundation as a whole feels pretty bad about everything that's happened to her, partly because she only exists because they were playing around with some other SCPs. A lot of effort is made to make her feel comfortable, from finding things she can use in her 2D state to discussing getting her a psychiatrist.
- In Red vs. Blue, Michael J. Caboose serves this role over time. Even when the "opposing" teams are insulting one another, they make time to be nice to him, and actually make an effort to make sure he feels good about himself. The times when he is upset by an outside party are actually treated as deadly serious and horrible things to do, especially by Tucker.
- Invoked by Hun in the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, in which April is a mix of little sister and big sister to the turtles (she even acts as a motherly figure sometimes):
Hun: Those green freaks feel great affection for you. Losing you should take the fight out of them.
- A 'baby brother' example, in Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM), Tails is one of the main targets for Robotnik to grab, mostly due to a) his age, and b), his little brother relationship to Sonic. (If it's not Tails, Sally is who Robotnik will nab, being Sonic's love interest and all.)
- Steven from Steven Universe. The Crystal Gems are his Parental Substitutes since his mom, their former leader, suffered the supernatural equivalent of Death by Childbirth. His personality also gets him "little brother" status with every teenager in Beach City, except Lars (not that this dissuades Steven from trying). As of Season 5, even Lars has warmed up to Steven.
- Padparadscha seems to be this for the Off-Colors. Lars, a self-admitted Dirty Coward even takes on the robloids to protect her and Rhodonite is quick to guard Padparadscha as well. A good part of this, beyond her size, is that Padparadscha is a "flawed" Sapphire. In Gem society, Sapphies serve as advisers because of their ability to see into the future. However, Padparadscha's visions are retroactive, meaning she is usually not aware of the danger until after it's been resolved.
- Season 7 of Voltron: Legendary Defender shows that Pidge is a mild version of this. She was already the youngest Paladin, and Zethrid and Ezor correctly assume that the rest of the team would be the most angry if they attack her as opposed to anyone else. Lance in particular immediately proves them right by charging at them and trying to fight them for it.