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Grandparent Favoritism

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In fiction, grandparents can be a lot of things. They may be loving, jerks, eccentric/forgetful, peripheral, oblivious, or nonexistent.

However, occasionally you'll see a grandparent or grandparents who'll go above and beyond for their grandchild or grandchildren... often at the expense of love or attention of their adult children. The strife could be played sympathetically or not.

On one hand, the offending grandparent may have done this because their time is winding down, they see their child less and less due to work and other responsibilities and they've always wanted grandchildren to fill in the void or to spend time with and spoil rotten. They may not even be intentional in their slight (or the adult children may be just immature and going overboard with their resentment.)

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On the other hand, it could be the elder generation had or continues to have an unpleasant relationship with the child due to abuse, neglect or some other situation where they weren't exactly there for them. The closer relationship with their offspring's offspring could be out of spite, where they see someone better in the grandchild, see it as their second chance (though this can be played sympathetically) or do it just to get one over on their child.

Also of note, this trope can be inverted, with the grandchild or grandchildren clearly preferring their grandparent(s) over their parent(s) for any of the above reasons. However, if it's a work where they're being raised by the grandparents due to the parents not being in the picture (and it's not a case where the Missing Mom or Disappeared Dad is estranged or simply an unfit parent, i.e., they're dead or otherwise unmentioned), then it wouldn't qualify as an example.

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Obviously Truth in Television. A Sub-Trope of Parental Favoritism, though it's not unheard of for the two to overlap. Compare and Contrast Doting Grandparent. See also I Want Grandkids, Raised by Grandparents, Why Are You Not My Son?, The Unfavorite and Obnoxious In-Laws.


Examples:

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     Anime and Manga 
  • The Quintessential Quintuplets: A minor example, as it only happens during one chapter, but during New Year, Fuutarou is a little put off by the fact that his grandparents gave his sister Raiha some money while giving nothing to him.

     Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Grandma Heyday much prefers her three orphaned granddaughters to her living son Joel, and even cuts Joel out of her will entirely. In retaliation he plots to kill her and his nieces and the Heyday women are only saved by Wonder Woman's timely intervention.
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     Film 
  • Beverly Donofrio from Riding in Cars with Boys gets hit with a double whammy. Not only are her strict parents more affectionate (by comparison, anyway) to her kid sister, Janet, but the two of them adore and dote on their grandson, Jason, more than they ever did (or will) her.
  • The Wolverine: Ichiro Yashida favored his granddaughter Mariko more than his son, Shingen (resulting in him leaving Mariko everything in his will). This drove Shingen to be deeply resentful of his daughter, to the point of trying to have her assassinated.

     Literature 
  • In An Ember in the Ashes, Elias's grandfather is far more supportive of him than his cruel mother. This is, however, due to his grandfather also being rather sexist and abusive himself; he despises his daughter, Elias's mother, as a result.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: In Rodrick Rules, Greg's Grandma has a clear preference for Manny, no matter how much she tries to deny it. Even though her fridge is plastered with photos of Manny, she insists that she loves all her grandchildren the same. Greg's grandfather, meanwhile, doesn't even make an attempt to hide that he prefers Greg, outright stating it at one point.
  • InCryptid: Alice has a better relationship with her grandchildren than her children, probably because she left them to be raised by her friends at a carnival while she went dimension-hopping to search for her missing husband.
  • Georg from Shtum was always cold and distant towards his son Ben, but he adores his autistic grandson Jonah and jumps at any opportunity to spend time with him. He takes him on walks, bathes him, and talks to him whenever they're alone, sharing family secrets he never mentioned to Ben.

     Live-Action TV 
  • Thelma Harper of Mama's Family makes it no secret that she prefers her grandchildren over her children or their spouses. The best example of her doing better by the grandchild was in the dynamic between herself and her juvenile delinquency teenage grandson Bubba, the son of her deeply embittered and hot-tempered middle child, Eunice. He not only loves her like she were his mother, but her balance of love and discipline eventually pays off: he ends up being a mature college student who regularly holds down a job.
  • Downplayed with Estelle Winslow of Family Matters. While she does love and respect her son Carl, she is also quick to scold him when he goofs up royally (evidenced by her Catchphrase "Way to go, Carl!") She also acts as a respected mentor and mediator whenever he has an issue or disagreement with one of the children, particularly Eddie or Steve (who has a deep shared respect for her as if she were his own grandmother).
  • Seen plenty of times on The Golden Girls with Blanche and Sophia. The latter usually snarks at Dorothy and talks about what a screw up Phil is, but she is always excited to see her grandchildren and even gave money she took from Dorothy to give to her children. The former's Hands-Off Parenting and other selfish tendencies have put a strain on the relationship between her and her children, particularly her eldest daughter Janet, but she loves her grandchildren dearly and their love for her is mutual.
  • Blanche Hunter of Coronation Street was more likely to defend her wayward granddaughter, Tracy, the only biological child from her daughter Deirdre, and went out of her way to provide for her. This becomes apparent in 2003 when Tracy became pregnant via a one-night stand; that Christmas sees Blanche gifting Tracy a flat with money that was to go towards Deirdre's inheritance, in the hope that she kept the grandchild instead of giving it to the Croppers. Needless to say, her daughter was understandably furious.
  • Veep: Selina's endlessly critical, sniping, and abusive mother Catherine is still extremely rude to Selina's daughter Catherine; but the younger Catherine's genuine interest in her, grief over her, and actual attempts to give her what she likes (and possibly the fact that she's named after her) means that the billionaire Catherine disinherits Selina and wills her entire estate to the younger Catherine upon her death.
  • Hannah Montana: In her first appearance, Mamaw Stewart heaps attention on Jackson and practically ignores Miley, to Miley's annoyance. After Mamaw chooses to attend Jackson's volleyball game rather than attend Miley's performance for the Queen of England, Miley finally confronts her about this. Mamaw tells Miley that she loves both of them, and justifies her supposed favoritism of Jackson by pointing out that he has so few moments to shine compared to his pop star sister, and needs to have someone who will be there for them during those moments.
  • Gilmore Girls: Emily and Richard always adore and praise their granddaughter Rory. They are far more dismissive of their daughter Lorelai, who has a strained relationship with them due to getting pregnant and running away from home at sixteen.
    Lorelai: [to Rory] You are the Great White Hope of the Gilmore Clan. You are their angel, sent from up above. You are the daughter they didn't have.
  • Played with on Passions with Alastair. He treats everyone he knows like crap including and especially his own family members, but he has taken a shine to his oldest grandson, Ethan, a smart and charming lawyer, and feels he is a much more suitable heir to the Crane fortune and business over his alcoholic playboy son, Julian. That is, until it's revealed that Ethan wasn't his grandson due to a one-time fling that his mother Ivy had with her ex-boyfriend, Police Chief Sam Bennett, right before her wedding to Julian.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Denial" had an elderly woman consistently go to bat for her adult granddaughter Claire, a drug addict who was accused of murdering her half-sister years earlier, while basically ignoring Claire's mother/her daughter Grace's arrest on the same charges. It turns out that the grandmother has a reason; Claire may be a drug addict, but Grace is a sociopath who had previously killed another child to stop him from crying, so the grandmother preferred Claire because Claire was a decent human being with a conscience, and also went to bat for Claire over Grace because she knew that Grace was capable of the crime.
    Grace: (regarding Claire) What the hell is so damn special about her?!
    Grandmother: She never killed anyone.

     Jokes 
  • This joke:
    Question: Why do grandparents and grandchildren get along so well?
    Answer: Because they have a common enemy.

     Western Animation 
  • This is one of Grandpa Simpson's defining characteristics. He and Homer usually don't get along (although in all fairness, Abe was pretty cold to Homer growing up, especially after his loving mother, Mona, went on the lam); but he adores his grandchildren, especially his firstborn and only grandson Bart. He's also much more civil to his daughter-in-law Marge than he is to his own son.
    • The Days of Future episodes show that much like Abe, Homer will be a much better grandfather to Barts's sons than he was a father to Bart.
  • Family Guy:
    • Lois' parents, especially her snobby, quasi-sociopathic father Carter, despise Peter (and to a much lesser extent, Lois herself), but in general like their grandchildren and are usually content to see them.
    • Subverted with Francis Griffin. As much of a prick as he is to his (step)son and daughter-in-law, he treats his grandchildren with the same level of indifference. This is because he's a deeply devout Catholic and disapproves of their secular lives and practices.
  • Subverted in Archer, where Malory Archer is just as terrible to her granddaughter AJ as she is to her son Sterling. In some ways, she's actually worse; Sterling, at least, had some degree of insulation from his mother because she was still an active field agent during his formative years, and thus left him in the care of her butler Woodhouse, whereas AJ was born after Malory retired from the front lines, allowing her to give her far more of her toxic attention.
  • King of the Hill: Cotton Hill considers his son Hank a disappointment, and does not hesitate to say so to his face. He's far more loving towards his grandson Bobby, and on one episode states that he'd take a bullet for him. Interestingly, Cotton has a baby son with his much younger wife whom he dotes on; he calls him "Good Hank".
  • The Proud Family: Suga Mama frequently mocks and insults her son Oscar, but is a Doting Grandparent to Penny. However, she also gets along with her daughter-in-law; she's really only rude to her son.
  • This is one of the character traits of Lou Pickles from Rugrats. His two sons, Drew and Stu tend to get on his nerves whenever they argue and/or whenever Stu's inventions malfunction. However, Lou has a soft spot for his granddaughter, Angelica, and his two grandsons, Tommy and Dil, and will often tell them stories from his youth.

     Real Life 
  • The highly controversial case of Casey Anthony had the background of both of her parents, especially her mother, clearly preferring their late granddaughter, Caylee, over her.
  • Benjamin Franklin and his grandson William Temple Franklin were both Insurgents, unlike their son and father, William Franklin, who was a staunch Loyalist.
  • Even while being a prime example of The Stoic, many have commented that Queen Elizabeth is more likely to be seen in public while smiling whenever she's around her grandchildren and their families than her own children. (There's even a joke that the the reason she's lived for so long and in such great health is so she'll outlive her eldest son Charles so that her grandson William would be next to inherit the throne.)


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