Follow TV Tropes

Following

Parental Favoritism

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/birds_favorite.png

"Mom always liked you best."
The Smothers Brothers
Advertisement:

It's tough being a kid in Fiction Land. Bad enough when you're an only child, but if you're among a pack of siblings, this particular trope is nearly guaranteed to raise its head at some point in order to make life even more difficult.

Parental Favoritism is just what it sounds like — one child is given preference over their siblings. In order to qualify, this has to be consistent. One child being asked to do the other's chores because their sibling is sick is not favoritism, although that won't stop the kid lumbered with the extra work from grumbling. One child having to do all the chores on a daily basis, while their brother/sister sits and plays video games is definitely favoritism.

It may show itself in a variety of ways. If there is an argument or fight, the parent(s) will always take the side of one particular sibling, and the other(s) will be the ones being scolded/punished. The parents may brag about one child in particular and be admonishing or dismissive of the others for their faults and regardless of the achievements of the brothers and sisters. A regular line that may be entailed with this is a variant of, "Honestly, (insert name), why can't ya be more like (insert favorite's name)?" There may always be one particular kid who gets out of doing their chores, even if the other kids get pulled up for forgetting to tidy their room.

Advertisement:

Sometimes, there may be more than one "favorite," or the mother and father will have different "favorites," making life even more of a headache for their siblings.

There are a few different versions of the trope, and a few different "explanations" as to why one child is preferred over the other. These divisions can be by:

  • Birth Order
    • The oldest child is favored because they are the firstborn/family heir. Tends to apply more to sons than daughters, since old inheritance laws favor boys over girls. This is found more often in fantasy or historical literature, where these laws have a real impact on how the family is run. Sometimes, the oldest child may have a huge set of standards thrown on them, but other times, an overachiever will set other standards for the younger ones.
    • The youngest child is favored because they are the "baby" of the family, and the parents will protect them from being "bullied" by their older siblings even when they are big enough to defend themselves/started the trouble in the first place. This is popular in more modern literature, especially with teen novels and children's TV.
    • Advertisement:
    • Middle children can often get a rough deal; very rarely are they the family favorite, unless they do something really outstanding to explain it. Middle Child Syndrome, as it's known, is a real life phenomenon that some psychologists are studying today.
    • Occasionally, the parent(s) will favor a child who shares their own place in the birth order over the other children, due to their own childhood experiences with their siblings. For example, a parent who was bullied by their older siblings as a child being more likely to take the side of the younger child, regardless of the older sibling's guilt or innocence.
    • When the parents split favoritism, it will usually be the father favoring the firstborn and the mother favoring the baby.
  • Gender
    • Preference by gender often relies on the boys:girls ratio within the family. If there are several of one sex and only one of the other, the sibling with a different gender from the others will be "the favorite." This can backfire though — they may instead be the "ugly duckling" of the family if the parents prefer one gender over the other, a preference that often hinges on the culture the story is set in (i.e, the solitary sister who's expected to clean up after, and cook for, her brothers).
    • If there is one son and several daughters, the son will acquire the title of "heir to the family." His parents may believe him to be "more important" than his sisters, and they might be expected to obey him/take care of him.
    • If there is one daughter and several sons, she will be the "baby" of the family regardless of birth order (possible exception if she is the oldest sibling, in which case she'll be de facto babysitter). Strangely, brothers are seldom shown as resenting their sister — in fact, they'll "defend her honor" more ferociously than their parents will. Any potential boyfriends are in for a hard time.
  • Personality
    • Sometimes, one child is funnier, more gregarious, or more talented than the others, making them "the favorite" almost automatically. In some cases (such as Megan Parker on Drake & Josh), this sibling will be sweetness and light to everyone else, but the Devil in Plain Sight to their brothers and sisters. Although, in other cases, the other child could have a negative personality, so the fault could partly fall on them. Alternatively, somebody (one of the parent) may die. In this case, one child will be favored because of their resemblance to a particular person. Particularly narcissistic parents, however, tend to favor the child that most looks/acts like him/herself (although that can happen in a more benign way, with a parent simply having more in common with a child who's also athletic, musical, artistic, etc.)
  • Biological vs. Adoption
    • It hardly needs mentioning that dozens of fairy tales (notably "Cinderella") involve stepchildren mistreated by their parents in favor of their biological children. This is a Discredited Trope today; more commonly, you have an adopted child who suffers some perceived slight from his stepparent and must be reassured that he is loved just as much as the parent's natural children.
    • This is also commonly inverted — the adopted child will be well behaved, the biological child will be spoiled and jealous, and when the inheritance or the call to adventure is passed down to the adopted child instead of the "true" inheritor, expect the biological child to start a Cain and Abel situation rapidly. Often the two can mix, with the biological child still being favored by the parents but the adopted child being given the call to adventure from outside the family. Harry Potter is a good example of this.

Any of these criteria can backfire. For example, one child might be the favorite because they look and act just like their saintly, deceased mother. Another might be just the opposite — The Un-Favourite — because of their resemblance to the mother that walked out on the father — or even because they remind the father of the saintly mother. If the saintly mother died in childbirth, then the poor kid who was birthed this way usually has a hell of a lot of resentment to get over, no matter what the physical similarities, often due to the father, consciously or unconsciously, blaming him or her for the mother's death.

Occasionally, parents have a child that naturally requires more care and attention than the others, because they're very young, disabled, or psychologically damaged. This will still seem unfair to the other kids who get less of their parents' time, but it's necessity rather than favoritism... usually. This is a favorite plot for children's books and television, where the lead character is jealous of a new baby sister or brother only to be reassured that "we love you just as much." On the other hand, if the favorite is Too Good for This Sinful Earth, the parents may never learn to appreciate their living children.

Sometimes, the parents are reasonably handing out the privileges and responsibilities with age. When the older child looks only at the responsibilities and the younger at the privileges, both can come to the view that they are The Un-Favourite. Or they may responsibly differentiate, but the musically untalented child may resent the lessons as favoritism, and the talented one, the other's free time as favoritism; or the child who must do all the chores resents the sickly child's confinement to his bedroom and inability to play. Cue Sibling Rivalry.

Of course, it is common that the parents are not aware of their favoritism and may be appalled at themselves upon realizing it. Very few parents would actually pursue favoritism with the knowledge of the other children's hurt feelings.

In fact, the obligatory "talk with the parents" is normally part of a Parental Favoritism plot...but that does not guarantee it will solve anything. If the writer is trying to Hand Wave the glaring bias of the parents, there will be a scene where mum and dad will give a long speech on how they value all their kids equally, and will tell The Un-Favourite child that making them live in the basement and forcing them to bow whenever their sibling enters a room is really a mark of their esteem. The words "you're the responsible one" will be mentioned in some form. A more realistic version is where the big talk is honest, and the parent doesn't bother trying to justify their actions, but do realise they were wrong and attempt to make amends. This is regularly done to "humanise" the hitherto parents — but it's too late. By the time of the talk, most of the audience will already be set against the parents, and it'll take a hell of a lot of good writing to redeem them. If the parents have clearly realized their foolishness and have shown to be really sorry, then this MAY take a lot of weight off them.

Parental Favoritism can have a huge impact on characters even when they become adults. The Favorite will either be spoiled and throw a tantrum if (s)he doesn't get his/her own way, feel that they were a sort-of "experimental" child and develop insecurities, or be a Nervous Wreck who permanently fears that he or she won't meet the parents' expectations; kids at the bottom of the pecking order will usually be bitter and cynical about relationships and family life (and often blame the favorite children alongside the parents), or have serious self-esteem issues, leading to self-deprecation or clinginess as ways to compensate.

This is all too often Truth in Television. The friendship version of this trope is Friendship Favoritism.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • Implied in an ad for Invisalign Teen. Twin teenagers both need braces; however, their parents get Invisalign for one daughter and regular braces for the other. The Un-Favourite spends the commercial complaining about all the limitations of her headgear, while the favored daughter gloats and rubs her face in how she doesn't have to deal with all those issues. Someone then takes a picture of the twins and makes a smart remark about finally being able to tell them apart.
  • A DVR ad has it to where a mother and father openly admit in front of their son that their daughter is their favorite child without a hint of remorse. They then casually suggest they just give him the last video slot simply because "that's the best he is going to get".
    • I might be wrong, but I think this is actually the 2011 Mackenzie Foy - AT&T commercial television commercial. In this commercial, the son and daughter are sitting in front of a TV and only one more show can be recorded. They decide which child is going to get it, and they pick why they choose, the father then asks to say which child they favor the most, and both pick the daughter, of course neither child actually cares, but then the father says to give it to the son instead, because that is all he going to get.
  • Another commercial for Guinness uses the same premise; two parents tell their adult son he's their least favorite child, to the point that he's not only under his siblings, but also the dog and their fine china. But they buy him a case of Guinness to make up for it.
  • One pizza chain had an ad where the children ask their father about his preference for dinner, and he protests that trying to choose would be like trying to decide which of them was his favorite child. They persist, wanting to know what he wants for dinner, and he finally relents and declares, "Bobby."

    Anime and Manga 
  • Played with in Axis Powers Hetalia. At first it looks like Grandpa Rome likes only his youngest grandson Veneziano and completely neglects older grandson Romano due to Veneziano having more talent than his brother, but it later turns out that he does visit Romano from the afterlife too. In fact, a Himaruya sketch shows Romano crying Tears of Joy... and then hiding because he doesn't want his Grandpa to see him cry.
  • In Code Geass, Lelouch perceives himself and Nunnally as The Unfavourites to their father, The Emperor Charles zi Brittania, because their mother was a commoner. In reality, they're actually his favorite children because Marianne was the only woman he ever truly loved. He sent the kids to Japan to protect them from Marianne's "killer," their uncle V.V., and intended to have them be a part of the Assimilation Plot he, Marianne, and C.C. had devised. When Lelouch finds out about all this, he lets them have it.
  • In Crayon Shin-chan, 5-year-old Shinnosuke's brother is The Un-Favourite and he knows it.
  • The emperor and empress of the Misurugi Empire really set their eyes on their middle daughter, the titular character of Cross Ange. Which bites them in the ass in the very first episode.
  • Death Note: A minor example, but still there. Light's father Soichiro doesn't completely dismiss the possibility that Light could be Kira (which he is, but Soichiro goes to his grave without ever finding this out), but is adamantly certain that Light's little sister Sayu couldn't possibly be the killer.
  • Why Ken partially resented his older brother in Digimon Adventure 02. Not only was he the younger sibling, and thus overlooked for the firstborn, Osamu was also a child prodigy and a media darling. This ensured that Ken never got the kind of attention he desperately wanted from his parents. It didn't help matters much when Osamu died in an accident, and his parents were too caught up in their grief to notice Ken even after that. After he's manipulated into more or less selling his soul in the Digital World, he gains the prodigy aspect his brother had, and his parents apparently begin to love him... but only as a shadow of what they once had with Osamu. It took him vanishing into the Digital World with the intent to stay there permanently, then returning in the midst of a complete mental breakdown, for them to finally begin loving him as Ken.
  • Dragon Ball: King Cold is implied to favor Frieza over his oldest son Cooler. He never once mentions Cooler, even in passing, and in Cooler's Revenge, Cooler bitterly reflects that Frieza was a "little brat" and that Cold always spoiled him rotten.
  • Part of the backstory of Big Bad King of Gallia in The Familiar of Zero; his elder brother was the favorite for being better at everything. Then, in the old King's last moments, he named the younger his successor, due the old king's insanity. Ecstatic, even knowing the true reason he was chosen, he went to rub it in his older brother's face. Unfortunately, the elder was honestly happy for his younger brother's success. This drove Joseph mad, and he ended up killing his older brother. So begins the tale of the mad king.
  • Very messed up example with the Homunculi of Fullmetal Alchemist, where Pride has that name in part, being the oldest, and the one whose personality represents Father in his purest form. Continuing the metaphor, the Anti-Villain Greed has a sort of "Well Done, Son!" Guy relationship to Father and turned Defector from Decadence because he couldn't stand being second to anyone (and being the least evil of the bunch helped).
    • In the 2003 anime version, this is the reason for Envy's hatred of the Elric brothers; he is the homunculus created by their father in an attempt to revive his firstborn son, and he was cast aside when he came back as a "monster".
    • In the manga, a side story reveals that this existed between the Elric brothers themselves when they were quite small, as Edward was very jealous of his mother Trisha's love for the baby Alphonse. A neatly-delivered lesson from father Hohenheim changed his mind, however, and by the time of the main story they are absolutely devoted to one another.
  • In Girls und Panzer, Shiho Nishizumi favors Maho, her elder daughter and heir, over Miho, her younger daughter and the main character. A good example of this is when, in Little Army, she arrives after Miho and Maho's training battle and offhandedly says "So Miho's here as well," before congratulating Maho on her tournament victory. Shiho disapproves of Miho so much that after hearing of her going to the semifinals against Pravda, she considers disowning her. However, once Miho defeats Maho in the finals, Shiho sighs, then smiles and starts clapping, which could indicate that her attitude is shifting.
  • Shui Long from Haou Airen is the most talented member of a very famous family of doctors, but his father passed him up in the family hierarchy despite his talent. He ended up allied with The Triads and the Tongs and as one of Hakuron's True Companions.
  • Despite being the White Sheep of the Zoldyck family, Killua from Hunter × Hunter is the most beloved child of the family. His mother and his eldest brother love him too much, his relationship with his father is the best father-son-relationship in the whole family that is known, his two younger brothers admire him, and the servants love him because Killua is nice to them. The only one who doesn't like him is the second eldest son, Milluki, who is a Fat Bastard, but even he admits that Killua is the best candidate to be the next heir of the family.
  • InuYasha: The chip on Sesshoumaru's shoulder stems from the belief that he was The Un-Favourite to Inuyasha, to the extent where he actually believes his father was grooming Inuyasha to kill him. The situation between the brothers is eventually resolved when it becomes clear that their father understood the vulnerabilities of being half-human and just how powerful Sesshoumaru would one day become. His real desire was for Sesshoumaru to become a source of support and guidance for Inuyasha.
  • Ren Gyokuen in Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic openly said that first prince Kouen (in actuality her nephew/stepson) was her "most loved son" while flirtatiously embracing him in front of the rest of her children, including her two biological children. Kouha disgustedly remarked how she used to fawn over Kouen and now wanted him to "replace" her recently dead husband.
  • In Monster, it is something that plagues Johan very intently. Which one of them was the unwanted one?
  • In the case of My Hero Academia's Shouto Todoroki, being the Favorite wasn't a good thing, as it lead to Training from Hell by his father. Meanwhile, his older siblings were more or less discarded for not turning out how he wanted, but it also means they missed out on the horrible "training".
  • In Naruto we see in the flashbacks that Fugaku Uchiha preferred his older, genius son Itachi to the younger Sasuke, saying several times to Sasuke that he wanted Sasuke to become a shinobi like Itachi.
    • The situation eventually turns around completely after Itachi is suspected of murdering Shisui which he did (except that he really didn't; Shisui really did commit suicide, albeit it, with Itachi's help). After Sasuke masters the fireball technique, Fugaku tells him not to follow Itachi's footsteps.
      • Turned around even earlier when Sasuke's mother Mikoto, who was rather close to Sasuke, told him that in public Itachi was the shining star, and Fugaku, in his capacity as head of the clan, was naturally concerned about him, due to his importance to the clan. In private, the only thing Fugaku talked about was Sasuke.
      • It's revealed in Chapter 590 that despite all this, they loved both their children. When Itachi came to kill them the night of the massacre, Mikoto assured him that his parents still loved him and that they fully understood his decision, while Fugaku asked Itachi to take care of Sasuke, and that regardless of their differences in beliefs and the paths they both took, he was still proud of him.
    • Likewise, Hiashi Hyuuga preferred his younger daughter Hanabi, as he believed Hinata lacked any real talent, especially when compared to her genius cousin Neji (the son of Hiashi's twin brother). After Neji loses his fight against Naruto, Hiashi's attitude starts to change and he softens up to both Hinata and Neji.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion gives us an odd case. Gendo shows no love or affection to Shinji, but is almost uncharacteristically fond of Rei, who he treats as an adoptive daughter. The reason he's fond of Rei however is because she is a clone of his dead wife, and in the end, both the children are little more than pawns to him toward resurrecting her. Before his death however, Gendo admits that he secretly held great love for Shinji in his heart, but was simply too afraid to face it, and in his Famous Last Words he says that he's sorry.
  • Ootori Kyouya is victim of a subtle version in Ouran High School Host Club. As the youngest of three sons in a rich family, he is expected by his father to perform at respectable standards, but never to do anything to one-up his brothers, who will inherit the Ootori business empire.
    • His sister also seems to get this treatment to some extent. She's admonished for returning home when she is happily married and has no real business to be there. This has the Ootori family fulfill two of the criteria. She, however, seems to ignore it and act cheery nonetheless, going out with Tamaki on occasion to explore the world of commoner cuisine.
    • A similar fate befalls Azuma Yunoki in La Corda d'Oro, who is forced to give up playing piano by his grandmother because he's better at it than his two older brothers; as he says, "My place is always below my brothers." Most a result of Japanese cultural values, and seems wildly unfair to Western readers. Azuma develops a bit of a psychological problem as a result (which means it's supposed to seem unfair to the original audience, as well).
  • In +Anima, the Royal Family of Sailand is a perfect example of Favoritism. In fact, it's most likely why Husky was named Crown Prince out of birth order.
  • In Ranma ½, Kasumi is clearly Soun Tendo's favourite child. This is because she helped him raise her little sisters, and the image song Otousan (Father) performed by Soun and Kasumi's seiyuu states that he feels rather guilty about it.
  • In Rosario + Vampire, Akasha and Gyokuro love their own respective blood-related daughters more than the other daughters. While Akasha loves her stepdaughters, too, Gyokuro loves only Kahlua; she distrusts Akua because Akua is adopted and only keeps her around because Akua is useful to her plans, and hates both Moka and Kokoa, the latter her other blood-related daughter, to the extent that she tried to murder them.
    • Among the Shuzen sisters, Moka is the most beloved one. Akua is a Yandere for her, Kahlua loves all of her sisters, and Kokoa loves her because Moka is the only one in the family who treats her with respect.
  • Taken to extremes in Saiyuki. Gojyo is a 'child of taboo,' raised by his stepmother and half-brother. She eventually attempted to kill him, but her biological son killed her first.
  • Sakura Discord has a strange and pretty disturbing example with Mebuki Sakura. Being a Child Prodigy for piano, her parents put way too much pressure on her, which resulted in her hating piano and said parents feeling incredibly guitly for it. So they started to unreasonably spoil her and forgive all of her mistakes and whims, but their introduction scene shows that this is not a healthy relationship by any means. She considers herself pretty much dead inside. To make it worse, her big brother Shin'ya tries to isolate her even more so that they will finally give up on her and focus their attention on him.
  • 3-gatsu no Lion provides a rather interesting case. Rei's adoptive father, Kouda, leads a very shogi-centered life that extends even to his home. As such, his children's skill in shogi more-or-less determines the kind of attention he gives them. Unfortunately for Rei, he ends up as the most skilled, creating strained relationships between him and the biological children of the household, who became something of The Unfavourites.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters, Gozaburo favored his biological son Noah than his adoptive son Seto, at first. But Noah, whose body is dead and his mind is copied in a virtual world, was later ignored by his father, and Gozaburo furthered Seto who had more natural talent than Noah ever had. And of course, Noah's childish personality made it impossible to become a heir of Gozaburo. Well, after being betrayed by Seto, he doesn't give a crap for any of his sons.
    • By the way, the other adoptive son Mokuba was always ignored by Gozaburo.
  • Imposed by the premise of Ooku, in which 17th-century Japan is ravaged by a plague that only targets men, leaving only one man for every four women. Thus sons can expect better treatment than daughters, since the plague only stops hitting men who reach forty, and die very frequently. And in the more unhinged families, can result in Parental Incest as well.
  • Downplayed in Bokurano, as Jun and Kana Ushiro's father unintentionally favors the latter, his biological daughter, over the former, his adoptive son. He does love both his children, but he stays relatively distant from Jun, afraid that if he tries to get close and Jun rejects him, their relationship will never be the same. Mr. Ushiro is portrayed somewhat sympathetically for this trope, though, because he doesn't realize he's doing this until it's too late- namely, when he realizes that he took the news that Kana would have to pilot(which would end with her death even if she won), much worse than the news of the same thing happening with Jun, being devastated by the news and horrified by his own reaction. When Jun apologizes for being such "a bad son" all this time in his final conversation with his father, Mr. Ushiro replies that he's sorry for being a bad father.
  • One Piece:
    • Charlotte "Big Mom" Linlin's favorite child is one of her youngest daughters, the teenage Charlotte Pudding. Though Big Mom seems to only do so because of Pudding's Third Eye note  since she thinks that, once it opens, it'll lead her to Raftel and be her key to becoming the Pirate King. While Pudding enjoys the perks of being spoiled rotten by her Evil Matriarch, she is annoyed of Big Mom constantly asking about if the third eye has opened yet. Plus a flashback shows that Big Mom was psychologically abusive to Pudding when she was a little girl, also for the Third Eye which she found disgusting.
    • Squard accuses Whitebeard of this in the Marineford Arc. Due to his hatred of Gol D. Roger for killing his old crew, he was susceptible to Admiral Akainu's lie that Whitebeard was planning to sell out his allies in exchange for Ace's life. When Squard stabbed Whitebeard, he did so because he believed Whitebeard was willing to betray the rest of his "family" just to save his "precious" Ace. Squard is wrong however, and Whitebeard proves that he loves all of his family to the point of hugging and forgiving Squard for stabbing him in the chest.
    • Vinsmoke Judge is exceptionally cruel example as he heavily favors his daughter Reiju and 3/4 of his sons Ichiji, Niji and Yonji over his third son Sanji. This mainly due to Bio Augmantion failing to turn Sanji into Super Soldier due his mother's Sora interference as she wished for her sons to keep their humanity instead being ruthless killing machines. After Sora died over keeping Sanji's humane, Judge treated Sanji like absolute shit and didn't lift a finger to protect him from his brothers. It gets even worse Judge imprisoned Sanji and acted like he didn't exist while adoring his other children and din't care in the slightest when Sanji escaped to East Blue. Thankfully this all comes back to bite Judge in the ass as when Big Mom is about to have Judge along with his super children assassinated he breaks down in blubbering tears and was in disbelief when he saw Ichiji, Niji, and Yonji expressing a lack of care at their imminent demise. Ironically Sanji is the only child Judge can connect to as they both normal human beings (Sanji being albeit a Badass Normal) though this just makes Judge despise his third son more. One of the worst fathers in One Piece for sure.
      • On the flip side Sora favors Sanji over her other sons (due to the reasons above), even when Reiju who has humanity as well comes to visit her in her sickbed Sora just talks about how much she loves Sanji. So their is favoritism on both sides.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • Dick Grayson (Robin I/Nightwing) has been noted to be Batman's favored son, being the first Robin, the easiest to get along with, and, as Batman himself notes, possessed the qualities none of the other Robins will ever have. He understands Bruce's teachings the most, came into his own as a hero, and while as skilled as Bruce, can still make friends and keep them, something Bruce can't do. It's to the point that Bruce has shown an absolute willingness to kill for him, something he doesn't show for anyone else. After Bruce "died" in Final Crisis, Dick became Batman against his wishes. When he returned, he reacted pretty well to it, to the point that it's just common knowledge among the Batfamily that Dick will takeover when Bruce is unable to be Batman. Although Bruce tries to hide it, everyone in not only the Batfamily, but the entire DCU, knows that Dick is Bruce's favourite son, partner and colleague.
    • Bruce also treats his adopted daughter, Cassandra Cain, with some favoritism. He gives her own Batcave, expects her to eventually take his place as Gotham's protector, and generally showers her with praise. The favoritism gets to a point that when Damian, Bruce's biological son, meets her, he is immediately hostile (despite the fact that, having been raised as a League of Assassins member, he knows that she's supposed to be their chosen one), because Bruce chose her over him. It's heavily implied that this treatment is because he is projecting onto Cassandra, treating her more like a miniature version of himself rather than her own person, which Barbara Gordon (the first Batgirl) calls him out on several times.
      • Though speaking of which Barbra similarly to Dick can be seen as his favorite "Bat-daughter" this especially brought out when she helped him as "Orcale" for years. In the Smallville comics Universe Batman explicitly favors Barbra as she's that Universe's Nightwing.
  • Harry Osborn from the Spider-Man Trilogy films, Ultimate Spider-Man and The Spectacular Spider-Man, which is an interesting case since he is an only child. His father Norman Osborn prefers his friend and fellow intellect Peter Parker over his own son. It gets even worse for Harry as not only does Norman favor his Arch-Enemy over him but he also cares more about his grandson Normie, Norman even chooses to infect Normie with Carnage symbiote and tries to get him to kill his own parents before Harry and Peter stop them. The reason why Norman prefers others over his own son is likely due to Norman's own twisted Might Makes Right philosophy that is at odds with Harry who is all around meek Nice Guy with no super powers so naturally doesn't fit Norman's evil values.
  • Darkseid treats all his children terribly, but out of all of them, he respects and likes Orion the most, even if Orion is on the good guy's side and actively opposes him. This favoritism seems to stem from the fact that Orion is the strongest and most competent of the three sons and is the one who can and has stood up to Darkseid. Another reason is that Darkseid sees Orion as a Worthy Opponent.
  • The Mighty Thor: Thor is clearly his father's Odin's favorite. This goes to an insane level when, in Fear Itself, he is willing to destroy the entire Earth for Thor's sake. He never went that far for Loki, Tyr or even Baldur, the latter of whom didn't even know he was one of Odin's sons until fairly recently.
  • X-Men
    • Usually averted with Charles Xavier aka Professor X and his students with him displaying equal affection to all of them even the rebellious ones, however it is clear that he has some favorites. The foremost being Jean Grey who is telepath like himself and the one who he particularly dotes on and helped her grow her psychic powers, Charles also had some other questionable feelings for Jean that he kept repressed. Scott Summers aka Cyclops is second favorite student and arguably his favorite male X-Men given he choose Scott to be The Leader of the team, sometimes (e.g Secret Wars) the professor will elect Scott to lead the X-Men even though Storm was technically the leader at that point causing Storm to accuse him of favoritism. Overall Xavier seems to partially prefer his original five X-Men (Cycolps, Jean, Beast, Iceman and Angel) over his other students, though this did come back to bite him as 3/5 of his favorite five have turned evil: Jean and Scott due to Phoenix Force and Angel due to Comic Book/Apocalypse made even worse by the fact Scott killed him.
      • Actually you can make the argument Storm is actually Professor X's favorite X-Men not only by the fact she's technically the first student he met (by way of mugging him as a girl) but due the near unrivaled amounts of affection he gives her. Charles even named her the "the world most important mutant" when she becomes Queen of Wakanda as she was the living symbol of human/mutant relations. When Professor X and Storm reunited after he was captured by the Skrulls Storm hugged him tightly and Xaiver had to tell to stop or they both end up crying.
      • Professor X also cares for his own son Legion greatly though they usually at odds with the latter trying to kill Magneto to at one point, so the Professor still prefers his students more.
    • Magneto does to this children, firstly it's quite clear he cares more about Scarlet Witch than Comic Book/Quicksilver as he never truly gives Pietro a well done son moment and considers him foolish and arrogant which is pretty rich coming from him. While he sets a high standard for his son, he is more affectionate with Wanda and blames Pietro if they go against him even if it was her choice, it's most blatant in Avengers Disassembled, when Wanda is unconscious and an angry Magneto says four words "Give me my daughter." he never shown that level of care for Quicksliver. However Magneto it turns out actually favors his daughter Lorna Dane aka Polaris more Quicksliver and Scarlet Witch combined with her inheriting his magnetism powers, Magneto even displays outright physical affection to Polaris something Pietro and Wanda don't get from him.
    • Mystique zigzags these trope with her children, on the surface it seems she cares for Rogue more than her biologically son Nightcrawler being distraught when Rogue defects from the Brotherhood to the X-Men and she's willingly to literally kill a baby (Hope Summers) so along as it revives Rogue. Although at others times Mystique treats Rogue the worst out of her children having slapped, stabbed, and shot her adoptive daughter on mutiple occasions, while ironically despite dropping Nightcrawler as a baby she's never physically hurt him again. In Axis where Mystique thanks to Red Skull/Professor X is completely good, she does in everything in her power to protect her biological son which interesting considering she does the exact opposite in the normal universe.
      • That being said, it's also very clear Mystique heavily favors Rogue & Nightcrwler over her first chronological child Graydon Creed (whom she had with Comic Book/Sabertooth), this is due to Graydon being born a Homo Saipan not Homo Superior like her. Graydon is truly Mystique's Unfavorite, taking into consideration she didn't hesitate for a second shooting him dead with a sniper rifle.
  • In Y: The Last Man, Yorick and his sister Hero both think their father preferred the other sibling. It's unclear whether either of them is right.
  • In Lucky Luke, Ma Dalton constantly dotes on her youngest son, Averell, while just as constantly giving her oldest, Joe, a hard time. She later admits that Joe is actually her favorite; he's the smartest and reminds her so much of their father, and Ma is only hard on him because she expects so very much of him. Averell, however, will always be her baby.
  • In The Kingdom, Wally West (the third Flash) has two kids: Barry and Iris West. Both inherited his superspeed, but are vastly different in how they use them. Barry is a slacker who uses them for petty reasons, though not anything illegal. Meanwhile, Iris took up Wally's old identity of Kid Flash and is actively a superhero. However, Wally clearly favors Barry, and constantly drives him to be the next Flash. It takes its toll on Iris, and Barry knows it. It may have something to do with his name even, since Barry Allen, the second Flash and Wally's mentor, is someone Wally has never stopped looking up to.
  • In The Technopriests, Panepha openly favors Almagro over his siblings Albino and Onyx, mainly because Albino is, as his name suggests, an albino and Onxy has red skin and four arms.
  • Robin Series: Mary Quintas eventually decided the best way to win her deranged family's serial killer competition was to kill her brothers and their families since her mom continued to favor them even after they'd been caught and incarcerated while she continued to get away with her murders.

    Fan Works 
  • Advice and Trust: Subverted. Rei is Gendo's favorite. However Asuka realizes that it does not amount to be valued since Gendo still treats Rei like crap. Finding out what Rei's life is like helps Asuka to get over her jealousy.
    Asuka didn't say anything for a minute. "She's the Commander's pet, his favorite," she said in a low voice. "Not you, his own son. Not me, the top scorer. Her. She's the one he likes. And they've got her taking so many tranquilizers and dissociatives I'm amazed she was even able to get angry enough to slap you. That amount of drugs has to be making her nearly a robot. That 's the kind of cocktail you give to someone you want to keep totally pliable, unargumentative, too doped up to care about anything... someone you want to make into a doll." Asuka shuddered. "If they can do that to the Pilot they like, what do they think of us?"
  • Doing It Right This Time: Subverted. Gendo loved Rei more than Shinji... However, Gendo being Gendo, it only means he treats her in a slightly less crappy fashion.
  • Ghosts of Evangelion: Misato took Shinji and Asuka in. Shinji was Misato's favorite and she favored him blatantly. Asuka is quite resentful about it. After Third Impact Misato admits that she made a mistake.
  • Tokyo Mew Mew No Hope Left has this trope in spades at the beginning. The protagonist's parents are described as preening her older sister and sending her to a fancy school, while forgetting that our heroine exists.
  • Subverted in X-Men: The Early Years. Scott is convinced that Jean is Xavier's favorite student. In fact, when Jean's father expressed his concerns as to the presence of a kid with a criminal record in the school, Xavier replied if he had to choose between keeping Scott and taking Jean in... Well, he was the only father figure Scott had left.
  • Played with in Empath: The Luckiest Smurf. The other Smurfs think Papa Smurf treats Empath as the favorite son. It helps that Empath is Papa Smurf's only biological son. Empath, however, feels that he is more The Un-Favourite, as Papa Smurf did nothing to get him out of living a life away from his fellow Smurfs in Psychelia.
  • In a Harry Potter fanfic where Sirius Black has two children, a boy and a girl to be more precise, their mother favors the girl over the boy because he looks like Sirius and she thinks Sirius is guilty.
  • In the Soul Eater fanfic Oblivion, Medusa claims that when she and her sisters were children, she was their mother's favorite, Arachne was their father's favorite, and Shaula was The Un-Favourite. Based on their mother's behavior in Shaula's flashback (where she treated Shaula kindly and intended to punish Medusa for bullying her), this is likely not true. That doesn't stop the claim from being Shaula's Berserk Button.
  • Subverted in The Second Try. Asuka used to believe that Shinji was their caretaker Misato's favorite, but during a heart-to-heart talk she admits that maybe she misunderstood Misato's behavior.
  • In How the Light Gets In, Laurel knows that her parents do love her, but between her mother's actions (see Arrow below) and her father's drunken rants making it clear he wishes she died instead of Sara, realizes that they both love Sara more. Her mother, Dinah, takes it to extremes. Laurel recalls Dinah has only come to one of Mary's (Laurel's daughter, and her granddaughter) birthdays... and it was only because she thought Sara would be there. To the point that Laurel is hesitant to have more than one child, because she's terrified she'll do this too. Notably this doesn't affect her relationship with Sara (whom she still loves dearly), and Sara herself seems to be unaware of it.
  • In the Drake & Josh fanfic "Into the Darkness", Drake and Meghan's biological father shows this to extreme levels. He clearly has adored Meghan since she was born and uses pet names like "sweetie" or "angel" whenever he talks about her. Drake on the other hand he hates for being born, among other nonsensical reasons such as "got me sent to jail for killing my boss" and "looking like me", and quite literally wants dead, even being willing to take matters into his own hands, spending nearly a week torturing Drake until he breaks emotionally and comes within an inch of death.
  • Misty suffered a lot of this in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines. Her parents constantly pampered her older sisters, while they treated her as little more than a servant, as she had been an unplanned child and had no interest in the performing arts like the rest of her family. Things just got worse for her after she was revealed as a bloodliner, and the only reason they didn't get rid of her was to avoid bad press.
  • SAO: Mother's Reconciliation: Asuna ends up believing her mother favors Kouichirou over her, especially after Kyouko makes the mistake of comparing the siblings' accomplishments. This ends up spurring on her decision to run away from home.
    Asuna: You already have your perfect son who's the very definition of success himself! So why don't you stop wasting your time on a failure like me and focus all your attention on him?!

     Film — Animated 
  • In Cinderella, Lady Tremaine favors her biological daughters far more than Cinderella, to the point of treating Cinderella like a lowly servant.
    • Between her biological daughters, she seems to favor Anastasia more than Drizella, but at the end of the day, they're both just tools to her.
  • The Lion King:
    • In The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, Nuka is neglected in favor of the youngest adoptive son, Kovu, whom Scar chose as his heir. Nuka is also implied to be Scar's son, but this isn't confirmed in the movie.
    • In the semi-canon sequel book series The Lion King: Six New Adventures, Scar was originally named "Taka" by his parents, which means "to want", but can also translate roughly as "trash". His father, Ahadi, always preferred Mufasa due to his dependability.
  • The Little Mermaid:
    • In The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, Morgana revealed that her older sister Ursula was favored over her and that she was always compared to Ursula, and in the climax of the movie, it's shown that Morgana had Mommy Issues over it.
    • Word of God states that Ariel has always been Triton's favorite daughter. He sees much of himself in her: She has red hair like him when he was younger and she is strong-willed and independent personality-wise. Her almost uncanny resemblance to her mother may also play a role in this favoritism.
  • Played for laughs in Disney's Robin Hood by the childish Prince John.
    Prince John: Mother always liked Richard best...
    • This might possibly have been Truth in Television; it's been suggested by many historians that Richard was the favorite child of their mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, while John was the favorite of their father, Henry II.
  • Frozen: In A Frozen Heart, a Tie-In Novel to the movie, shows that some of Prince Hans of the Southern Isles' brothers resent him for being their mother's favorite and taunt him for being a Momma's Boy. They also resent Caleb, the oldest of 13 sons, for being their father's favorite, even though the king spoiled them all except for Hans.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Zach from the Quebecois film C.R.A.Z.Y is the fourth son of five and manages to be a case of both Parental Favoritism AND The Un-Favourite — his religious mother believes he has the power of healing and defends him from his father's scorn. Meanwhile his dad, having suspected him of being gay from an early age, lavishes most of his praise on the three older brothers, who are respectively a genius, a jock and a macho lady's man. Meanwhile the youngest just seems to get ignored.
  • In Dead Poets Society, Todd receives a birthday present from his parents — a replica of what they sent him the previous year. It comes out that his brother's birthdays are a big deal, but his own are clearly an afterthought. One of his friends helps him throw the present off a balcony and jokingly tells him to cheer up: he'll get another one next year.
  • In A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, the robot child a couple uses to replace their comatose son becomes The Un-Favourite when their real child wakes up from his coma.
  • In Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Ferris's sister complains that her brother can get away with anything, and their parents will believe him. Since her brother is Ferris Bueller, she's right. On the other hand, Ferris wanted a car, which she got.
  • Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story: The fact that Dewey Cox's father is fond of reminding Dewey that "the wrong kid died" when discussing Dewey's deceased older brother is a pretty good indication of where Dewey stands on the pecking order.
  • The TV movie Sweet Dreams (1996) has this trope in a flashback scene near the end between Laura Renault (played by Amy Yasbeck) and Allison Sulivan (played by Tiffany Amber-Thiessen).
  • The TV movie In the Deep Woods (1992) has this trope near the end of the movie between Joanna Warren (played by Rosanna Arquette) and Tommy Warren (played by Christopher Rydell).
  • Welcome to the Dollhouse: the mother obviously favors the cute youngest daughter Missy over the plain middle daughter Dawn, to the point where Mom and Missy cuddle on the couch while watching television and Dawn has to sit on the floor.
  • In Ever After, Rodmilla de Ghent favors her eldest daughter Marguerite, who is beautiful and behaves the same way as her mother, compared to her stepdaughter Danielle and her younger daughter Jacqueline, who has a much sweeter, kinder personality.
  • Ramsey Hogan in Desert Heat clearly favors one child over the other two.
    Matt: "Why are you ridin' me and Jesse so much and never Petey?"
    Ramsey: "I love Petey 'cause I loved his mother. She died giving him birth. He's our love child."
    Matt: "What about me and Jess?"
    Ramsey: "You two are the unfortunate results of some recreational fucking back when fucking was fun."
    Matt: "... geez."
    Ramsey: "Get over it."
  • This is the Red Queen's Freudian Excuse in Alice in Wonderland (2010), as she claims (with some accuracy) that her parents and the rest of the kingdom favored her little sister, the White Queen, more than her.
  • Played painfully straight in The Feast of All Saints, where Cecile overtly favors her son Marcel and barely tolerates her daughter Marie, largely because she is jealous of Marie's beauty. This culminates with Cecile attacking Marie when the latter comes home after being gang raped. Near the end of the movie, Cecile even says she wishes Marie was dead and asks Marcel to pass along the message.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
    • Thor: Odin paid more attention to Thor as he was heir to Throne while Loki was more of a tool to unify the Asgardains and Ice Giants, Odin's preference for Thor initially made him blind to the latter's faults.
    • Thor: The Dark World: It's implied that Frigga favours Loki because he, being In Touch with His Feminine Side, shares a lot more in common than Thor (though Thor resembles his mother more than Loki). Frigga was Loki's instructor in magic, so they once had a mentor-pupil relationship in addition to a mother-son one. She would've naturally grown closer to him after spending so much time together. Frigga willfully breaks the law against Odin's wishes so that she can spend time with a jailed Loki, but she doesn't do the same for an exiled Thor in Thor. It's lampshaded by Thor when he asks his brother, "You think you alone were loved of Mother?" Tom Hiddleston confirms this in this interview.
      Hiddleston: Rene Russo and I, always, from the very first film, part of the backstory we created was that Frigga was really the most attentive to Loki when he was a child. And Odin didn't really know how to connect. He connected much more with Thor. They were sort of cut from the same cloth. And Frigga and Loki had this kind of beautiful, sensitive, more artistic relationship. And it was actually her who taught him all his magic.
      • Subverted by the time of Thor: Ragnarok as Odin says he loves both his sons and even gives a Loki So Proud of You moment, really both Thor and Loki have gone against his wishes and become better people for it. Odin still holds his sons in greater regard than Hela his first child and strove to make both of them better rulers.
    • Yondu from Guardians of the Galaxy as a Father to His Men, in particular cared for Peter aka Starlord more than other Ravagers though Yondo had trouble admitting it to him. First Mate Kraglin Obfonteri in Vol. 2 is not fooled and calls out the favoritism Yondu shows Peter, when the Ravagers were hunting the Guardians down on behalf of Ayesha.
    • Thanos doesn’t even try to deny that he considers Gamora the best of his adoptive children (and by that we mean he straight up says as much in front of his other kids). She undeniably gets preferential treatment from him, and is generally the one he seems to relate to the most. The fact that he continues to feel this way even after she does a Heel–Face Turn and disowns him says a lot. This comes back to bite both of them in Avengers: Infinity War; to get the Soul Stone, Thanos must sacrifice what he loves most... which he quickly realizes means he’ll have to kill his favorite daughter. He reluctantly does and is totally inconsolable afterwards.
  • In Hobo with a Shotgun, the villain Drake clearly favors his son Slick over his other son Ivan. When Slick dies, Ivan tries to assume his place in his father's eyes, without much success. Ultimately Drake tells him that he'll never measure up and shoots him.
  • Gordie is most definitely The Un-Favourite in Stand by Me, and believes his father would rather he have died than his charming, athletic older brother. The only thing keeping Gordie from feeling worse than he does is the fact that he and his brother had a great relationship, and his brother used to praise and encourage him in his writing.
  • In Boyz n the Hood, Doughboy is obviously The Un-Favourite of his single mother, compared to his brother Ricky, who has a different father. This may partially explain why Doughboy is a gangbanger and Ricky is a college-bound high school football player. The favoritism is implied throughout the movie, and is outright stated by Doughboy after Ricky's death in a drive-by shooting. In fact, the first question their mother asks after Doughboy and Tre bring Ricky's body to the house is, "What did you do to him?"
  • X-Men Film Series: Downplayed with Professor X since he never neglects any of his students whether as a teacher or as a Parental Substitute, but he is closer to those who are Birds of a Feather, like Hank McCoy in X-Men: First Class and Jean Grey in X-Men: Apocalypse. Hank and Jean do receive a bit more of Xavier's time and care.
  • An interesting example in Cool Hand Luke. Luke's mother tells him that she's leaving everything to his brother, because she'd always loved Luke more, and wanted to make up for it. She's not proud of her favoritism, but sees it as beyond her control.
    "Way it is, sometimes, you just have a feelin' for a child or you don't, and with John I just didn't. "
  • In Deewaar, Sumitra admits to her son Ravi that she always loved his brother Vijay more.

    Literature 
  • The Bennet sisters, in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Tearaway Lydia is Mrs. Bennet's favorite daughter; sensible and witty Elizabeth is Mr. Bennet's. Oldest sister Jane is loved by everyone thanks to her sweet nature, but bookish Mary and second-to-youngest Kitty get the short end of the stick. (Kitty doesn't even get a character trait; she's just 'second-to-youngest'. That's favoritism for you.)
  • Mrs. Dashwood does a bit of this in Sense and Sensibility. She is kind and affectionate to all three of her daughters, but she has a particularly close relationship with Marianne, who strikingly resembles her and is constantly referred to as being her darling child, doted upon, or something of the sort. Meanwhile, she generally finds Elinor incomprehensible and fails to take her feelings into account, possibly because she often doesn't realise they exist. When the sisters have similar love problems, Mrs Dashwood leaves Elinor to shift for herself while giving Marianne her unlimited support. While some of this could be explained by Elinor's and Marianne's respective attitudes, Mrs. Dashwood continues to be inconsiderate to Elinor even when it is revealed that her love interest is engaged to another woman. Completely inverts the Middle Child Syndrome. To her credit, near the end she gets a clue and fears that "she had been unjust, inattentive, nay, almost unkind to her Elinor."
    • For bonus points, Elinor and Marianne have a younger sister, Margaret. Margaret exists. That is all.
  • Sid Sawyer in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. All the adults adore Tom's little brother and wish Tom were more like him... when in reality he's a manipulative, mean-spirited brat, but only Tom, Huck and Becky ever notice.
  • Fudge, in Judy Blume's series of young adult novels beginning with Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, was the family favorite, getting away with murder while big brother Peter got repeatedly whacked over the head with An Aesop about loving his brother. The fact that Peter Can't Get Away with Nuthin' doesn't help.
    • In fact, this is one of those odd instances where it's not clear whether Fudge is the parents' favorite, or the author's. Peter's parents seem as if they're supposed to be the wise, sensible, benevolent type, and they do make up for some of Fudge's excesses, but the fact that Fudge never gets called on his bad behaviour suggests that either he was given serious preference by his parents... or Blume didn't want to let such things as "discipline" get in the way of Fudge's antics.
    • In the latest book in the series, Double Fudge, Fudge's latest "phase" is that he's obsessed with money. His parents are actually somewhat worried about this, and Anne, the mother, is positively mortified when Fudge's excessive greed results in him getting evaluated by the counselor and she's told that maybe she should try to stress that "the best things in life are free," etc. The problem is never solved, per se, in order to allow for hijinks and because Warren and Anne really have no idea what to do about it, but it does seem to lessen. Slightly. Fudge books are only published once every ten years, so we might have a bit of wait to find out what happens next, if anything.
    • His parents do get fed up with Fudge and punish him when warranted. In Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Fudge is throwing a tantrum and not eating his cornflakes and his dad makes him stand in the bathtub while he dumps the bowl of cereal on his head, and in Superfudge he's occasionally scolded (and spanked once) by his mother over his misdeeds and at the end is punished by his parents for riding his bike to town without telling anyone.
      • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing itself also had Fudge get punished for his actions, as he ruins a poster that Peter, Jimmy, and Sheila had been working on for weeks. His mother spanks him. Though that's scarcely enough to make up for the incident in the park, where she blames Peter for allowing Fudge to jump off the jungle gym even though Sheila was supposed to be in charge. (The mother does later tell Peter that she's sorry she yelled at him and knew it wasn't right, but she was upset.)
      • The worst example of this occurs when Fudge is hospitalized for eating Peter's turtle. Everyone is concerned about Fudge, but not one person comforts Peter over the fact that, y'know, his pet has been murdered, and the fact that the whole thing is Fudge's own stupid fault is never brought up. When he comes home, their mother goes overboard with giving him presents, saying that he "can have anything he wants" because she's just so glad he's better, and Peter is sickened by the whole thing. Granted, Peter is given a dog at the end of the book and told he's been a pretty good sport about everything, but even so.
  • Played with in Judy Blume's The Pain And The Great One, a kids book told in two parts. The first, an older sister describes how her little brother "The Pain" gets away with murder and is clearly the parents' favorite, in the second the brother describes the sister "The Great One" in the same way, also concluding that she must be the favorite.
  • Murphy in Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files. In Blood Rites, she asks that Harry time an assault on a vampire lair so that she can skip her family reunion. The timing is off, however; she attends part of the reunion, and learns that her younger sister — whom their mother explicitly says is allowed more freedom as the youngest than Murphy had as a youngster — is marrying Murphy's ex-husband. The sister got involved with the ex when he failed to arrest her for underage drinking when she was spending an unsupervised vacation in New Orleans. Their mother is A-OK with this, and criticizes Murphy for her reaction.
    • Of course, only part of this is because Murphy's sister is the favorite sister. The other part is that Mrs. Murphy absolutely loved her son-in-law. She's thrilled that she's getting him back in the family again.
  • Mercilessly deconstructed in Leaving Poppy by Kate Cann. The heroine, Amber, has a younger sister that is so favored by her mother it reaches ridiculous levels. At the start of the story, the heroine is due to go on holiday to celebrate her exam success. But Poppy — who her mother describes as "fragile" — suddenly becomes "ill," crying all the time and throwing tantrums. Their mother guilt-trips Amber into staying... and Poppy "miraculously" gets better. In later chapters, it is revealed that Poppy is not sick — she's psychotic, partly as a result of being spoiled, but it's also suggested that she was "born bad." Even as a child, she slashed another kid with scissors — and planned the whole thing meticulously.
  • In C. J. Cherryh's Regenesis, part of the backstory of Giraud and Denys Nye is that their mother wanted to raise a genius, and pressured Giraud, the eldest, to perform as a child; although he was bright, he wasn't up to that level, and was The Un-Favourite. Denys, on the other hand, was a genius and was coddled. Denys grew up introverted and antisocial, depending utterly on Giraud to handle interaction with other people.
  • Paula Danziger is another teen writer who was fond of this, although in Can You Sue Your Parents For Malpractice? she turns the trope on its head — big sister Melissa is the family favorite until she defies her draconian father by moving in with her boyfriend. Rather than choosing a "new" favorite, her father takes his annoyance out on his two younger daughters.
  • A major part of the plot of Jacob Have I Loved: Sarah Louise's younger twin, Caroline, received all the attention as a baby because she was always weak and sickly. She grew up beautiful, popular, talented at singing and the piano, sweet, and perfect, while Sarah Louise became a hard-working tomboy who "never gave her parents a moment's worry." Sarah Louise's mission in the novel is to find a life outside her sister's shadow.
  • In Diana Wynne Jones's Archer's Goon, the youngest of the seven magical siblings is the most powerful and favored of the group. His elder brothers and sisters are bound magically to protect him.
  • In Stephen King's novel The Eyes of the Dragon, Peter is the King's favorite son. This leads younger brother Thomas to build a deep jealousy and hate of his older brother that the Big Bad Flagg takes advantage of.
    • To a large extent, this is actually inverted. The King certainly adores Peter, and thinks him a better heir, but feels most like the younger son. (In fact, many of the eavesdropped statements that led to Thomas's resentment ended with a "like something I would have produced at his age" that Thomas missed.)
  • George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire has a few:
    • Tywin Lannister's blatant playing favorites with his children Jaime, Cersei and Tyrion is one of many things that make him a bad parent. Most glaringly, he loves his oldest son Jaime, who's tall, handsome, a ferocious knight and generally regarded as the golden son. His second son Tyrion is a malformed dwarf whose mother (Tywin's beloved wife and the mother of Jaime and Cersei) died while giving birth to him. Since Jaime is a member of the Kingsguard (the personal bodyguards to the king, who can't marry, hold lands, or father children), Tyrion is the heir of Casterly Rock (as Cersei is a woman), which is Tywin's Berserk Button. Tywin's daughter, Cersei, is between her brothers in terms of value in their father's eyes: she and Tywin got along when she was younger, even with hints of Cersei being Daddy's Girl (she was one of two people in the house at whom he smiled), but she just was a girl, meaning that even if Tywin saw her as a good daughter, she was just a daughter. As Cersei is Jaime's twin and grew up together with him, she wasn't pleased when Jaime began to be treated as more important than her because he was a boy and comes to resent Tywin's favoritism as well. That said, Tywin's treatment of all his children comes as abusive, just to different degrees, and Jaime, the favored sibling, is also the only one loving and loved by the other two.
    • Warrior-like Randyll Tarly (said to be the finest soldier in the realm) bypasses his heir, the cowardly, compassionate, bookish and weight-challenged Samwell, for his younger son Dickon (and by "bypasses" we mean "chains him up for three days, threatens to kill him, then has him forfeit his birthright and be exiled to the Night's Watch rather than let him become a *gasp* academic"). He explicitly tells him he'll enjoy hunting him down like an animal if he doesn't join the Watch, while skinning a dead deer. He rips its heart out in front of him for emphasis.
    • Queen Cersei lavishes shamelessly preferential treatment on her sociopathic eldest Joffrey while publicly berating the sweet, gentle Tommen as a weakling. She also frequently ignores her only daughter in favor of both boys, not noticing that she repeats the pattern her father had set.
    • While Catelyn dearly and deeply loves all of her children, she has mentioned that Bran is her favorite as he is her special boy. There is also a mild version between Arya and Sansa specifically, as Catelyn often finds herself wishing that Arya could be more like her ladylike sister. (While Catelyn loves all of her own children, she resents her husband Ned's illegitimate son Jon for being Ned's son by another woman, and disdains the Starks' ward Theon Greyjoy.)
    • Theon gets the short end of the stick again when, feeling unwelcome in Winterfell, he tries to go back home to Pyke. After Balon's oldest boys were killed and the youngest — Theon — is taken hostage as punishment for his attempted rebellion, Balon is left with his daughter Asha. Balon doesn't welcome his remaining son Theon, who was raised by his enemies the Starks, and he absolutely dotes on Asha.
  • Katie Nolan of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn knows when she gives birth to her son Neeley that she'll love him more than her daughter Francie, but promises she won't show it (she fails). She rationalizes much of her favoritism by saying that Neeley needs more encouragement, while Francie is strong like her and will get what she wants somehow. For example, when she can only afford to send one of the kids to high school, she says it should be Neeley because he won't go unless she makes him, but Francie will get an education because she wants it.
  • In Terry Pratchett's The Wee Free Men, Tiffany Aching, the next-to-youngest child in a family of girls, is somewhat overlooked because the youngest child is the only boy.
  • In Lynda Robinson's Lord Meren mysteries, it is revealed in Murder at the Feast of Rejoicing that Meren, the eldest son, was put under great pressure to excel by his AbusiveFather, while his younger brother Ra was indulged and spoiled.
  • J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter:
    • Harry endured some pretty extreme abuse at the hands of his aunt Petunia and uncle Vernon, while his cousin Dudley was extremely pampered, owed at least in part to a long-held jealousy Petunia held of his mother. In the sixth book, Dumbledore notes that Dudley arguably got the worse end of the deal, being totally unprepared for the real world.
    • Ron certainly felt like this was the case, although readers generally see no evidence of it. Among his many insecurities, he frets about being the sixth boy in a family that always wanted a girl. Being the best friend of an actual celebrity, who is treated by his parents as an extra son, doesn't exactly help.
    • Regulus was the favorite over older brother Sirius (mostly because the former was just as much a bigot as his parents), even the family house-elf preferred him, partially for sharing the same bigoted views and partially because he was kind to him and cared enough about him to order Kreacher to leave him behind and allow him to be the one to die when he betrayed Voldemort. In Order of the Phoenix Kreacher's dislike and animosity towards Sirius for his "betrayal" of the House of Black culminates in Kreacher betraying him to his death''
    • Dumbledore's sister Ariana required constant supervision, leaving Albus rather aloof to their brother's annoyance.
    • Marvolo Gaunt favored Morfin greatly over Merope, and eventually was arrested when his abuse of her was seen by an Auror.
    • Petunia certainly felt that her parents liked Lily better after discovering she was a witch and it is heavily implied she already felt like The Un-Favourite before Lily ever received her Hogwarts letter.
  • Crookedstar from Warrior Cats was this to Rainflower, to the dismay of him, his brother Oakheart, and their father Shellheart all because he broke his jaw, thus "ruining his good looks." But he eventually tells her that she would never make him ashamed of who he was.
    • Breezepelt feels like this at first, because his dad never pays attention to him (but not knowing he had more than one kit). So he starts working with the Dark Forest not only to destroy the Clans, but also to get revenge on Crowfeather.
    • It's strongly hinted that Brambleclaw is Tigerstar's favorite kit, despite them being on opposite sides.
    • Even though she may not have made it obvious, Scourge (back then Tiny) believed his mother Quince liked Socks and Ruby more than him. Though it's hinted that she favors him over the others.
    • Brokenstar was this to his foster mother, Lizardstripe. Justified, as she didn't want kits in the first place, and accepted Brokenstar extremely reluctantly.
  • In Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey novel Busman's Honeymoon, the Dowager Duchess explicitly tells Harriet that Peter is her favorite child.
  • The Westing Game: Grace Wexler doesn't even bother to hide how much she prefers her older, angelic daughter Angela over younger daughter Turtle. While angry at Turtle, she confides to her husband that she has always harbored a suspicion that the hospital had gotten the babies mixed up when Turtle was born and Grace explicitly states (while both girls are present) that she intends to leave everything she owns to Angela. The older girl is generally regarded as the perfect daughter much to Angela's resentment, due to her mother micromanaging her life.
  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Boromir (the elder son) is heavily preferred to Faramir by their father, Denethor. It's especially emphasized in The Movies, where Denethor is shown as blatantly unfair; in the book, Gandalf at least believes that it is partly that Denethor is still grief-stricken over the death.
    • In the book, it's also heavily implied that a lot of his favoritism comes from Boromir's loyalty — Boromir always puts Gondor's interests first, as Denethor does, while Faramir seems more interested in Gandalf's plan to take care of Middle Earth as a whole (even if that means causing some serious trouble for Godor). Case in point: both brothers are faced with an opportunity to take the Ring by force and use it to defend Gondor. Boromir goes for it; Faramir just gives the hobbits some supplies and lets them go.
    • It should be noted though, that Boromir and Faramir love each other dearly, and Boromir protects Faramir as much as possible, and is thoroughly sick of the way their father treats him.
  • In The Silmarillion, Fëanor and Fingolfin, who are half-brothers, fight for the love of their father Finwë, who shows no signs of favoritism. Then the eldest son, Fëanor, publicly threatens to kill Fingolfin, setting the point of his sword to his brother's chest. He is exiled... and his father Finwë goes with him. Poor Fingolfin. (Though arguably this might have been necessary to keep the slightly unhinged Fëanor from going batshit crazy... which he did anyway, mind, but only later.) Even so, Finwë declares that as long as his son is exiled, "I hold myself unkinged," and refuses to see or talk to his people, even during the holiest festivals.
  • Jacqueline Wilson has used this a few times:
    • The Diamond Girls involves a mother who is desperate for her fifth child to be a boy, after having four daughters. She obsesses over it to the point of planning her new life around her son — demeaning the value of her daughters as she does so. This is one of the few cases where Parental Favoritism has started before the kid is born. It doesn't work out so well for the fifth Diamond child when "he" turns out to be a she,...
    • Girls In Love has one character, Nadine, with a younger sister who is the favorite of their superficial and snobbish mother. Natasha is a Devil in Plain Sight, but she looks cute, and later starts a career as a child model, so of course she's "Mummy's favorite."
    • In The Illustrated Mum, Star is clearly Marigold's favourite child because she's the daughter of The One That Got Away. Dolphin finds this incredibly unfair, as Star shows Marigold constant disdain and leaves to live with her newfound father, while Dolphin chooses to stay with Marigold. Later, when Dolphin finds her own father, she's upset to learn he already has two daughters and seems to want her friend Oliver as a son, lamenting, "I'm not anybody's favourite."
    • Love Lessons deconstructs this somewhat, as Pru is the favourite of her father, who belittles her younger sister for being fat and slow, but being the favourite doesn't stop his verbal abuse of her and her mother is an Extreme Doormat who expects Pru to try and contain her father's rages.
  • Goes both ways in the Conqueror books. Temuge is the youngest of five brothers, and his mother dotes on him as a result. This leads to him becoming a rather soft and chubby child who never learns to use a bow or sword effectively, making him the least favorite in his father's eyes.
  • Jodi Picoult favors the Ill Girl variation on this trope:
    • In My Sister's Keeper, youngest daughter Anna was conceived specifically to be a donor for cancer-struck big sister, Kate. While she is pregnant with Anna, her mother, Sara, admits that she hasn't really considered her new daughter's personality, only the genetics that ensure she will make a good donor. Even when Anna is born, Sara's main concern is that the doctors don't damage the umbilical cord (which can be used to save Kate) — she pays very little attention to the newborn baby. Anna's dad is more concerned with her, but even he neglects his oldest child, Jesse. Late in the book, he admits that he hasn't really paid much attention to Jesse's development, and can't fill in the gap between being told that Jesse wasn't a suitable donor for Kate, and being confronted with a seriously troubled 18-year-old. Jesse and Anna are only seen in terms of what they can do for Kate — who, to her credit, notices this and doesn't like it one bit.
    • In Handle with Care, Willow suffers from severe brittle bone disease, which understandably necessitates a lot of care and caution. However, her mother, Charlotte, takes it to an extreme, ignoring older daughter Amelia and systematically destroying the girl's life as she campaigns to improve Willow's. When Amelia develops bulimia and starts self-harming, Charlotte genuinely can't see why Amelia has such problems. Unlike Willow, who is cared for by her family, Amelia is promptly shuffled off to a clinic in Boston when her problems are revealed, to be someone else's problem for a while. What makes this particularly sad is that before Willow's birth, Charlotte admits that she would hesitate to take a bullet for her husband, because Amelia would need her, but she's protect Amelia no matter what. By the end of the book, it's doubtful that Charlotte would give the same answer.
  • In Outbound Flight, Jedi Lorana Jinzler is confronted, to her shock, by the brother she never knew, who told her angrily that their parents, whom she also never knew, loved her for being a Jedi, loved her more than their other children, held her up as a shining example of what they should be. She's confused and disturbed and both of them come away from that confrontation worse off; at the end of the book, Lorana tells someone to find her brother and tell him that she was thinking of him, and hoping that he could find a way to let go of his anger — at her, at their parents, at himself.
  • Fifty years later, in Survivor's Quest, that person Lorana talked to finally stops neglecting the promise and arranges for Dean Jinzler to go to the ruins of Outbound Flight, where his sister died. Time has muddled up his anger, and although he still believes that she was unduly favored, he wants to put things to rest and say his goodbyes. During the events of the novel he realizes, that he'd been lying to himself for years. Their parents had loved the absent Lorana, but they had loved the children they had just as much. All those years when Dean had been pushing himself to excel in his father's fields, they had been proud. He just hadn't seen it.
    "I'm an electronics technician. Like my father before me."
  • Manny Heffley, the baby of the Heffley family from Diary of a Wimpy Kid. (Manny is three years old, Greg is around eleven to thirteen, and Rodrick is implied to be between fifteen and seventeen.) Manny is allowed to do all sorts of stuff like bring toys to church, call his brothers names, throw fits to get his way, and crawl out of bed at night and stay up. Greg states that when he was Manny's age, he had none of that, as his family was in a weaker financial state at the time. The Parental Favoritism also spreads to the extended family. (Manny is given far more presents for Christmas and more stuff that he wants, Greg is given stuff like books of Algebra or deodorant.) The only in-focus grandmother is particularly bad, as she claims to like all of her grandchildren equally but her fridge is practically wallpapered in pictures of Manny. Also, Manny hardly ever receives punishment for his actions, even when he steals supplies and leaves his family for dead during a blizzard.
    • The only onscreen grandfather meanwhile actually subverts this. It's also why he is Gregory's favorite grandparent, for obvious reasons...
    "Gregory's my favorite!"
  • In the Maximum Ride series, Jeb clearly favors his foster children (the Flock) over his six-year-old biological son Ari, to the point at which he leaves Ari in an underground lab filled with unethical scientists who unsurprisingly have no problem experimenting on the poor kid. Because of this, Ari understandably resents the Flock for this (especially Max) and tries constantly to gain his father's favor. Then the parental favoritism becomes literal when it turns out that Max and Ari are half siblings. Of course, it's a bit blurry as to whether he genuinely loved them or was just another in a long line of people trying to use the Flock to their advantage. The fact that he doesn't shut up about how they have to save the world might be an indicator.
  • A very important part of L. M. Montgomery's Jane of Lantern Hill: Grandmother only loves one of her children, Robin, Jane's mother. She's also insanely jealous, so this love doesn't extend to Jane.
  • As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury both feature a mother having a favorite son out of all her other children, despite the fact that the son is a Jerkass.
  • The gods in Percy Jackson are guilty of this. In fact, Poseidon openly admitted that Percy was his favorite son.
  • In Jane Eyre, Jane is treated only like another mouth to feed for her spiteful aunt (whose husband treated Jane more kindly before he died) and her cousins, especially John, take delight in bullying her, even in front of their mother who does nothing to stop them.
  • In The Legend of Rah and the Muggles, Rah is the favorite of virtually the entire Muggle community, because he's a good boy who doesn't ever deviate from the norm and builds them a mill. This is taken to ridiculous levels in one chapter, when he wins a croquet game and everyone acts like he won the Olympics, complete with giving him an old and valuable medal. Rah also seems to be the author's favorite as well, given that she made his entry in the character glossary easily the most detailed, while most everyone else (including Zyn) got two or three sentences tops.
  • In Beyond the Western Sea, Lord Kirkle favors Laurence, while Lady Kirkle favors Albert, leading to a Cain and Abel situation.
  • Laurence in the Temeraire books. He's the unnecessary third son of a minor aristocratic family, and his father, who'd never paid him any attention, expected him to go into the priesthood, but instead he ran away and joined the Navy. And just when he thought he might have been in a position to make his way back into his father's good graces with his accumulated military honors, he experiences the local equivalent of Falling into the Cockpit and finds himself recruited to the socially unacceptable Aerial Corps instead, and his father almost disowns him. Their relationship only gets worse from there.
  • In the Chinese Cinderella story Bound by Donna Jo Napoli, at first the stepmother cared for neither main character Xing Xing or her biological daughter, as during her time, sons were more favored. However, as Xing Xing's father grew closer to Xing Xing after the death of his wife, the stepmother grew closer to her own daughter, while simultaneously despising and envying her stepdaughter.
  • Present across the Julio-Claudian family in I, Claudius.
    • Forced to play up his idiocy and disability, Claudius always disgusted his mother, especially when compared to his noble and valiant brother Germanicus. There was no resentment of Germanicus on Claudius's side.
    • Livia justified her actions by pointing out how disastrous Augustus's Parental Favoritism was: by favoring Marcellus over Agrippa, and Lucius, Gaius and later Germanicus against Tiberius, he risked civil war in Rome after his death.
    • Claudius later used this to protect his own son, Britannicus, from his adopted son Nero, hoping to divert Agrippinilla's attention from him. He fails.
  • In Gone with the Wind, Scarlett is Gerald O'Hara's favored child. He has come to realize that he will never have any sons, and speaks to Scarlett in a sort of man-to-man way that Scarlett enjoys very much. Scarlett carries this out much further with her own children; her youngest daughter, Bonnie, is her favored child.
  • A major theme in East of Eden, due to the running Cain and Abel parallel. It happens first with Cyrus Trask, his unfavorite eldest son Charles, and the favorite, Adam. Thanks to Generation Xerox, things go the same way with Adam's twin sons, Cal and Aaron.
  • In Gene Stratton-Porter's The Song of the Cardinal, the cardinal got this. His father stuffed him with food in the nest, and his mother, more equitable, gave him only half of what she gathered.
    The king came to see him and at once acknowledged subjugation. He was the father of many promising cardinals, yet he never had seen one like this. He set the Limberlost echoes rolling with his jubilant rejoicing. He unceasingly hunted for the ripest berries and seed. He stuffed that baby from morning until night, and never came with food that he did not find him standing a-top the others calling for more. The queen was just as proud of him and quite as foolish in her idolatry, but she kept tally and gave the remainder every other worm in turn. They were unusually fine babies, but what chance has merely a fine baby in a family that possesses a prodigy? The Cardinal was as large as any two of the other nestlings, and so red the very down on him seemed tinged with crimson; his skin and even his feet were red.
  • In Gene Stratton-Porter's A Daughter of the Land, Mary. With Kate singled out as The Un-Favourite.
    "I am not! But it wasn't a 'fool thing' when Mary and Nancy Ellen, and the older girls wanted to go. You even let Mary go to college two years."
    "Mary had exceptional ability," said Mrs. Bates.
    "I wonder how she convinced you of it. None of the rest of us can discover it," said Kate.
  • In Stuart Hill's The Icemark Chronicles, the youngest son Sharley has a crippled leg, so his parents overprotect him and love him more than their other offspring. His sister Medea grows more and more hatred towards him throughout the second book, until she eventually tries to kill him.
    Here he was, the reason and root of her inability to embrace the cause of the Icemark, her family, humanity, the mortal world... everything! She wasn't responsible for her actions. Sharley was.
  • In the Sweet Valley High series, Ned and Alice Wakefield consistently blast Jessica for her bad behavior—promiscuity, bad grades, etc. Similar behavior from Elizabeth is glossed over or rationalized. One scene illustrates this perfectly; when Jessica tries to fix her brother Steven up with one of her friends, she's screamed at by everyone. But when Elizabeth steps in to defend Jessica and explain that it was her idea, suddenly it's a great idea and everyone's falling all over themselves to praise her for it. Not until Jessica RAN AWAY (TWICE, in two separate books) did it finally dawn on her family how troubled she was.
  • The Thorn Birds: Fiona favors her oldest son Frank. This is because Frank is the son of the man she really loves, who seduced and abandoned her. Meanwhile, she has several other children with Paddy, the man kind enough to marry her when no one else would because of her illegitimate child, but to a large extent she ignores them. Only daughter Meggie actually thinks she's dying when she starts her period because her mother never bothered to tell her anything about it. Twenty-something years later, Meggie repeats this mistake with her own children, favoring her son Dane (her illegitimate child with the priest she has loved since childhood) over her daughter Justine (her child by her neglectful husband Luke).
    • To a lesser extent, it seems that Meggie is Paddy's favorite child, possibly because she's the only daughter in a large family of sons.
  • Jane Rizzoli of the Rizzoli & Isles series is blatantly ignored in favor of her brothers, especially brother Frankie. One book tries to Hand Wave this with the explanation that her mother always knew that Jane was the strong one while her brother needed help, but a later novel has her finally admit her mistake.
  • All over Flowers in the Attic. Cathy was her father's favorite. Chris is his mother's favorite. Corrine was her father's favorite before he disowned her for marrying his much younger half-brother.
    • In the later books in the series, there's a massive sense of this between Cathy's three children, as she sometimes appears much fonder of eldest child Jory and adopted daughter Cindy than of her troubled middle child Bart. She does love Bart, however, and the sense of favoritism has a lot to do with his view of things, not necessarily how they actually are.
  • In Andre Norton's Ice Crown, Uncle Offlas has charge of Roane, but blatantly favors his own son.
  • In Andre Norton's The Zero Stone, the family split in two: Jern and his father, and his mother with the other two siblings.
  • Robert Caro's The Power Broker: Robert Moses' mother Bella favors him more and more over his brother Paul (who is more willing to contradict her), culminating in Robert getting most of her estate when she dies
  • In The Stormlight Archive, Shallan was the favorite child of an extremely abusive father, being his only daughter and the potential savior of the family (as she can marry higher up the social ladder and restore their prestige). However, she gains no advantage from this at all. She's forced to grow up with the enormous expectations of the family and also feels responsible for the suffering of her brothers, to the extent that she takes on all their ever-increasing problems. When her father dies, it's Shallan who steps up to the plate as leader of the family, despite being the youngest. And being the favorite didn't stop her from copping more than her fair share of emotional and verbal abuse from him, either. At the end of the second book, The Reveal that Shallan is the one who killed her mother (which her father took the blame for) casts their relationship in a different light. On a reread, it's implied several times that her father is terrified of her.
  • Joe Pickett: In Endangered, Brenda Cates dotes on her youngest son Dallas; treating him as a hero and constantly insulting and belittling his older brothers, Bull and Timber.
  • In Shaman Blues, the wraith's mother clearly favored her older son, eventually putting the Curse of Cain — which makes all bad befall the then-would-be wraith and all good fall to the boy — on the two of them. The wraith's mocking way of telling the story suggests that this was just the cherry on top of other signs pointing at whom mother loved more.
  • Stephen King's It plays with this to horrific effect with Patrick Hockstetter, one of the minor antagonists in the novel. Patrick suspects that his parents love his newborn brother more than him (which the narration confirms to the reader), but doesn't care one iota about that, because Patrick is solipstic (he believes that he is the only real mind that exists) and a psychopath. What he can't stand is the idea that the newborn infant might not only exist just like him, but will also disrupt his carefully planned schedules, and promptly smothers the infant to death, disguising it as crib death.
  • In The Chronicles of Narnia, it's a case of brotherly favoritism. Peter loves all of his siblings but he is especially close with the youngest, Lucy.
  • In Wuthering Heights, Mr. Earnshaw favors his foster son Heathcliff (who may or may not be his illegitimate son) over his own two children Hindley and Catherine. Cathy overlooks this as she and Heathcliff become soul mates, but for Hindley the Sibling Rivalry reaches Cain and Abel proportions, to the point that he reduces Heathcliff to servitude after his father's death.

    Live-Action TV 
  • From Arrested Development, Michael is portrayed as George's favorite and Buster as Lucille's. Of the grandchildren, George Michael is generally given preferential treatment to Maeby (and certainly he is treated much better by his father than she is by her parents):
    • "I don't much care for GOB."
    • "You're my third least favorite child."
  • Arrow: It is never directly stated or confirmed, but Dinah Lance seems to prefer Sara over Laurel. The flashbacks show that she saw Sara packing to join Oliver on the boat, and after briefly trying to talk her out of it let her go despite it being a betrayal of Laurel. Tellingly, after admitting this she breaks down weeping and apologizes to Quentin for killing their daughter; but doesn't apologize to Laurel over the betrayal or for keeping it a secret this long. She also ran away shortly after the boat sank abandoning Laurel and made little effort to stay in touch; and most of her appearances are concerning Sara as if that's all that make her come back to Star City.
  • Bates Motel: Norma Bates obviously prefers her son Norman over her other son Dylan. While she only shows some affection to Dylan when he does her a favor or is useful to her or Norman in some way, she's obsessed with Norman and her feelings for him go beyond motherly love.
  • In Battlestar Galactica (2003), Ellen Tigh, one of the creators of the humanoid Cylons, apparently considered artistic Daniel as her favorite. As Model Number Seven, Daniel is essentially the second youngest of eight. The eldest of her children, John, was quite resentful of this relationship and eventually murdered his brother out of jealousy and reprogrammed his siblings to forget about him and their parents.
  • Leonard's mother in The Big Bang Theory frequently brings up how much more successful and impressive Leonard's siblings are. Interestingly, she doesn't express much affection for them either, treating all of her children with the same detached, clinical manner.
  • The unfamiliar viewer could see this in Bones. At first glance, Brennan and Booth may seem to prefer their daughter Christine to Parker, Booth's son, since they spend much more time with her than they do with him. However, it must be noted that Booth shares custody with Parker, and Parker spends a lot of time in England with his mother. And it's worth mentioning, that when we do see Parker with Brennan and Booth, they are both shown giving just as much affection to him as they do to Christine; it's also indicated that Brennan cares for Parker liker her own as well. Similarly, Parker also loves Christine deeply..
  • The Borgias: Although Rodrigo Borgia is plainly very fond of all his children, his daughter Lucrezia is obviously his favorite, to the point where it becomes a little creepy. And of his three sons he indulges Juan the most by far and remains completely oblivious to his glaring faults, to the clear resentment of The Dutiful Son Cesare. Meanwhile little Gioffre gets rather overlooked, but doesn't seem to mind too much. Being overlooked is a blessing in the Borgia family.
  • On Caroline in the City, Caroline's parents clearly unconsciously favor her brother, who really is highly accomplished and successful and of whom Caroline has always been a little resentful and jealous. During a visit home, Caroline's employee, friend, and eventual lover Richard comforts her by comparing her brother to an alien, and saying that if it wasn't so cold, he'd be 'out looking for his pod'. Later, he gently teases Caroline by saying she has to get elected President, 'so her brother can become the Pope'.
  • Seen in full flow in Dallas. Youngest son Bobby is the family favorite, much to the disappointment of eldest son JR, who has spent years honing his skills, cunning and ruthlessness in the hopes of winning over Jock. (Middle child Gary became an alcoholic and even after recovering moved away from the family.) Strikingly, when Jock dies it hits JR by far the hardest.
  • Deb from Dexter feels this way about her father toward her brother. The truth is that Harry just wanted to protect his children and loved them both. Dexter was just a little more high-maintenance due to being, well, a budding Serial Killer.
  • Doctor Who: In "Demons of the Punjab", Yaz's grandmother Umbreen says that Yaz is her favourite granddaughter, prompting annoyance from Yaz's younger sister Sonya and a warning from Yaz's mum Najia not to say things like that. It's hinted that Umbreen's reason for this might be because she knows of Yaz's presence at her first wedding in 1947.
  • Sometimes, this occurs in ER. When two brothers come into a hospital after an accident, the father chewed the adopted one out, accusing him of doing stupid things that would hurt his son. However, we find out that he is just as strict with his biological son, which was why said son preferred his stepbrother over his father. Even when the stepbrother went into critical condition, the father was more concerned with his real son. Ray angrily called him out on it.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond. Even the show title suggests so. Robert always gets the short end of the stick from their parents.
  • Inverted on The Expanse, Holden is the sole child of eight biological parents, but the one he loves the most is the mother that actually gave birth to him, as he addresses all his letters home solely to her (though he claims it's understood the letter is meant for everyone).
  • From what is seen in Firefly, Simon seems to be the favorite of the family. While River never comes across as The Un-Favourite, we still see that the Tam parents pump vast amounts of energy and money into Simon's social standing and career, but are shown to make no such efforts towards River (despite her being even more gifted than him) and seem more bothered by Simon's attempt to contact his sister than the fact that River has vanished after being sent to an institute.
  • Subverted in many ways on Frasier:
    • Brothers Frasier and Niles were each convinced that the other was their parents' favorite, which resulted in the intense and petty sibling rivalry that they each suffer from in adulthood. It's often made clear, however, that their parents didn't play favorites (and in fact their father Martin in many ways considered both of them his least favorite, as they were so completely different from and diametrically opposed to him) and that all this was just their own insecurities acting.
    • The female 'baby' of the family is also subverted in Daphne's relationship with her mother — despite Daphne's endless, thankless sacrifices over the years, her mother is nothing less than hyper-critical and demanding of her, whilst doting upon her boorish, obnoxious, feckless and ungrateful older brother.
    • In the Doyle family, it seems that Roz was favored by her father, while Roz's mother favored her other daughter, Denise.
  • Friends: This trope is Played for Laughs a few times:
    • Ross and Monica's mother Judy dotes on Ross endlessly, while giving Monica nothing but grief. Their father Jack favors Ross as well, but isn't as critical of Monica as Judy is. They explained their favoritism of Ross in one episode — they had thought Judy was barren until Ross was born, so Ross was a "medical marvel!" ...But by the time Monica was born, the "marvel" was gone. Eventually, Ross calls their dad out on their favoritism after they used Monica's childhood possessions to save Ross's during a flood, and he is honestly repentant, giving Monica his Porsche to 'start to make amends'. His behavior improves a lot, although Judy is still as disapproving of Monica as ever.
      Monica I know they say you can't choose your parents but boy if you could (points to Ross) I'd want yours!
    • In a later episode of the series, we see Rachel's spoiled little sister Jill. Jill was cut off from their father's money and told to come and learn how to be responsible from "the one daughter he's proud of" (Rachel) for becoming an independent career woman instead of the shallow spoiled princess she was early in the series. Of course, Dr. Green doesn't seem to notice his parenting might be why all his daughters turned out that way.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Tywin Lannister favors Jaime (by manipulating him to do what Tywin wants), while generally ignoring Cersei (because she's just a woman) and openly despising Tyrion (who is a dwarf). He trusts him with half of his army, praises him on occasion and considers him his heir even though by law Jaime cannot inherit as a member of the Kingsguard. Cersei and Tyrion, who both love Jaime, are still resentful of this blatant favoritism. Tyrion in particular points out that he will never be recognized for all his accomplishments even though he's by far Tywin's most capable descendant, while Jaime is still Tywin's designated heir even after forfeiting his inheritance, murdering a king, losing his sword hand and screwing his own sister, which caused a countrywide scandal and a Succession Crisis that almost destroyed the Lannister bid for the Iron Throne.
    Tyrion: You're the golden son. You could kill a king, lose a hand, fuck your own sister, you'll always be the golden son.
    • Catelyn Stark loves all her children, but has special affection for her daughter Sansa (whose hair she brushes personally) and her son Bran (whose injury causes her a Heroic BSoD).
    • Balon Greyjoy favors Yara over Theon because Theon spent half his life as a hostage of the Starks. Most of Theon's poor decisions are motivated by a desire to earn his father's respect.
    • Samwell Tarly's father forced him to join the Night's Watch so his younger son could become his heir.
    • Joffrey is clearly Cersei's favourite child, with Myrcella second and Tommen running a very distant third. Considering the effects, the younger children have probably benefited from that.
    • Daenerys says her dragons are the only children she will ever have and loves them greatly, but it's very clear that Drogon is her favourite.
    • Margaery is her grandmother's favourite, as Olenna has groomed her to be her successor and largely dismisses Loras as a "silly boy on a horse." She isn't cruel about it like Tywin, though, and it's clear she does care for him too.
    • It's implied that Catelyn was Hoster's favourite child, calling her "Little Cat".
    • According to Sandor, Gregor was their father's favorite. Their father hoped he would become a knight and also gave a cover for his scarring of little Sandor so as to protect him from justice. The same father Gregor later murdered (probably).
  • On The Good Place, Tahani's parents adore her sister and vaguely tolerate her, to the point that they misspelled her name as "Tahini" in their will.
    • During a special "test" in season 2, Tahani meets her parents and realizes at last that nothing she did was ever going to be good enough in their eyes to be as good as her sister was.
  • Miley's grandmother in Hannah Montana feels that her brother Jackson gets the short end of the stick being the normal brother of a world-famous pop star, and so she tries to make up for it by openly admitting that he's her favorite. For instance, she blows off Miley's visit with the Queen of England to see Jackson's volleyball game. Miley hates this until she learns of her grandmother's reasoning and agrees with her. In the same episode, we're shown that Jackson thinks Miley's the world's favorite (including their father's), as she gets all the attention, being an international pop star.
    • Robbie Ray also tends to prefer Miley over Jackson, forcing Jackson to learn harsh lessons while he just tells Miley what she did wrong.
  • Much drama is wrung out of this question in Heroes: Just who is Angela Petrelli's favorite son? Arthur says it's Peter, much to Sylar's disappointment.
  • Played with in Home Improvement. Tim Taylor is a good and loving father to all his sons. But it's oft mentioned that he favors Brad over Randy and Mark because he and Brad have more common interests. This leads to Tim spending more time with Brad and allowing him special treatment, like standing in for Al on Tool Time. Somewhat subverted in that Tim is aware that he favors Brad and feels genuinely bad about it. Enter Wilson...
  • Pam Puckett on iCarly. It's obvious to everyone that of the twins, she prefers Melanie over Sam. She even outright asks Sam once why she can't be more like Melanie.
  • Played to extremes on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, by Dennis and Dee's mother. She was horribly emotionally abusive to Dee, while insisting that Dennis could do no wrong. This clearly didn't work out very well for either of them. At least Frank is more or less equally bad as a parent to both of them.
  • Downplayed version in Last Man Standing. While Mike and Vanessa clearly love all three of their daughters, it's no secret that Mike likes the youngest daughter Eve, the Tomboy who enjoys sports, hunting, etc. as much as he does, the best. Similarly, Vanessa prefers spending time with the oldest daughters Kristin and Mandy because they are more girly and interested in the feminine activities Eve does not like.
    • "Three Sisters" makes this a plot-point when Mike won't take money out of a college fund so Eve can buy some recording equipment, but Kristen does. When Mike objects to this as circumventing his authority, it leads to a big argument over who the favorite actually is, with each sister thinking it's someone else and pointing to various acts of perceived favoritism. Mike and Vanessa argue that while it might look like one child is getting constant favoritism and attention, it's actually parsed out. As unfair as it sounds, they say raising multiple kids over the years sometimes required deciding which one of them needed special attention and help, even if it was at the expense of the other daughters.
  • An episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent called "Saving Face" featured a young doctor who could never escape her brother's shadow, despite the fact that he had died many years ago ("He was the lucky one!"). It was blatant to the point where they were more worried about his portrait being damaged than her being hauled off to jail. She even did the math and discovered she was conceived almost immediately after his death, making her nothing more than a replacement for him.
    • Det. Goren is aware that he's The Un-Favourite in spite of the fact that his brother is a homeless drug addict.
    • In another later episode, Rip Torn plays a parent with adult children. He dotes on one child and undercuts the other very consistently. The dynamic causes one child to kill the other. The father is then given custody of his two surviving grandchildren. From the first meeting, he selects one child to favor over another, setting the scene for a repeat of the current tragedy.
  • One of the most baffling things of The League is that Kevin and Taco's mother clearly believes the pot-smoking moron Taco who has no idea where he is half the time and no career or goals is far more successful a person than Kevin, a happily married lawyer and father.
  • Comes up during an honesty game in Life in Pieces.
    Sophia: Who's your favourite child?
    Heather: [looking for a way out] Tim?
    Tim: Pretty sure it's Tyler.
  • Subverted in Malcolm in the Middle. Hal and Lois start favoring Malcolm after he is revealed to be highly gifted, but it's out of the ordinary because a) they only express their favoritism by bluntly telling Malcolm he's the one person in the family who has a chance of succeeding in life, they never let him off the hook or treat him better than his brothers, b) they are harder on Malcolm as a result, and c) all Malcolm's brothers are also in on the plan to favor Malcolm above the rest of the family to help him fulfill his potential. After that, the laborious work he had to do in order to attend Harvard is as much paying his family back for their support of him as pursuing his own dreams.
    • This is all spelled out in the series finale when Malcolm graduates from high school. His mom turns down a six-figure salary job he was being offered instead of college and the family explains (jeez, they thought he knew this already) that he's going to work his ass off to get through Harvard and claw his way up becoming President one day (not just President, the best President) and do some amazing good in the world for people like their family who have to struggle to get by everyday.
  • Over time, it becomes pretty obvious on Married... with Children that Al and Peg prefer their ditzy, slutty, daughter Kelly over their smart, perverted son, Bud. At one point in the same season, they screwed him out of going into space and meeting the President because she was going to be a spokesmodel for a nationwide company (Weenie Tots, a food product which they also happen to love) and she was dating an alderman and that was deemed more "worthy" of their time and money. Plus, the family is more likely to come together just to mock him than they are to mock her.
    • Interestingly though, in something of an inversion, as far as the superior parent, Bud and Kelly actually prefer Peg over Al, in spite of her virtually doing nothing for them, be it starving them, ignoring them or just plain mocking them.
    • This was also the case of Marcy, who was forced to go to work hauling slabs of meat in supermarkets to pay off her sister's college education, because their mother decided the sister was too pretty and too delicate to work.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Luke Cage (2016): Willis "Diamondback" Stryker has harbored a lifelong grudge against his half-brother Luke Cage because of perceived parental favoritism, like Isaac and Ishmael in the Bible. The key word is "perceived", as Luke explains to Claire Temple that their father James Lucas didn't really like Luke either. Much of it has to do with the fact that Willis was a bastard, sired as a result of an affair that the Reverend Lucas had with his secretary Dana Stryker.
    • Iron Fist (2017): When it comes to Harold Meachum's bond with his kids, his son Ward gets the short end of the straw. He dotes heavily on his daughter Joy, but despises and denigrates Ward every chance he gets.
  • Deconstructed in "Last Whiff of Summer", the two-part fourth-season premiere of The Middle. Early in the episode, the kids debate among themselves which of them are their parents' favorites, then ask them, and their answers and non-answers (Frankie denies that parents can favor any child above another) set up the episode's plot threads. The parents also find themselves asking the same question, and Brick later reveals he's been keeping score.
  • In Modern Family, the favoritism varies:
    • In the Dunphy family, Luke is definitely Phil's favourite, due to him being the only boy and them having very similar senses of humor. Haley is most like Claire, and so while Claire relates to her the most, she's mostly worried about Haley making the same mistakes that she did. Both Phil and Claire will blatantly admit that Alex (who is an Insufferable Genius) gives them the most to be proud of, but because she's so different from her parents, she largely gets ignored whenever she isn't winning some kind of award.
    • In the Pritchett family, Jay has made no secret of how he couldn't relate at all to Mitchell when he was a kid, and he still isn't 100% comfortable with Mitchell's sexuality. Claire however, was a total daddy's girl and was a tomboy, so she was essentially the son that Mitchell wasn't.
  • Gibbs of NCIS is the Team Dad of the main cast, and makes no secret that The Lab Rat Abby is his favorite out of his team of Bunny-Ears Lawyer investigators. The other team members seem to accept this with good grace, partly because they also dote on her and partly because it's recognized that she's something of a substitution for Gibbs' real daughter, Kelly, who was murdered as a child and would have been around the same age as Abby.
  • Played for irony in Power Rangers Megaforce. In the episode "All Hail Prince Vekar", Vekar openly states that his younger brother Vrak was always favored more by their father, even though Vrak wasn't the heir. This seemingly unfair favoritism plays off as Vekar's own Freudian Excuse: He believes that destroying the Power Rangers and conquering Earth will prove his superiority over Vrak.
  • In Roseanne, it's pretty clear that Jackie and Roseanne's parents have each chosen a favorite. Jackie's close relationship with their father leads her to excuse a lot of the abuse they suffered and look to excuse his affair. Bev is ridiculously hard on Jackie and dotes on Roseanne. One episode, where their mother's favoritism is glaring, Roseanne worries that she and Dan may act this way to their own girls. She spends the rest of the episode trying to bond with Darlene who is a Daddy's girl, while forcing Dan to do things with Becky (including an excruciating day at the mall). After things mostly backfire, Dan and Roseanne agree to go back to doting on their respective favorite and decide to toss a coin on who gets to ruin DJ's life when he's old enough.
    • One episode revealed that Jackie is actually Bev's favorite, but in a different way. Bev decided when the girls were young that Jackie had a spark and she would be destined to do great things, while Roseanne was plainer and going to wind up being a housewife and mother. Bev only dotes on Roseanne because she took "the right path" and nags Jackie endlessly because she feels she screwed up her life by not becoming a doctor. Both sisters, particularly Roseanne, are understandably upset by this, and Roseanne again reconsiders how she treats Becky and Darlene.
    • Roseanne also has an interesting case of inverting this, with Roseanne and Jackie each having a favorite parent. Early on, the girls seem to be equally irritated by both of them, but later on, they've each picked sides. Roseanne favored their mother slightly, seeing their father as abusive, neglectful, and a cheater. Jackie, on the other hand, one time criticized Roseanne for being so hard on their father and making him unwelcome in her home, believing that he was a troubled man doing the best he could, while at the same time, absolutely despising her shrill, judgmental, controlling mother, telling her husband not to refer to her as "Mom," only "Bev" or "Sea Hag," and more than one time genuinely seeming excited about the prospect of her death (when she walked into an asbestos-filled basement, Jackie said "Breathe deep, old woman," and genuinely hoped that dropping the news she was unmarried and pregnant might kill her.)
    • Once David Healy moved in with the Conners, he became the favorite in Roseanne's eyes. Even when she found out he was staying with Darlene alone, she still wanted him to move back to the Conner household. There are hints that the reason why is because David came from an abusive home just like herself and she sympathize with him.
  • Sharp Objects: Camille's mother always favored her two half-sisters over her. She ultimately admits that Camille reminds her too much of Camille's wayward father, and she never could bring herself to love her.
  • Smallville: Lionel Luthor only cares about his male line. Granted, he doesn't seem to care much about them either, but Earth-2 Lionel certainly cares more about his Earth-1 counterpart's son Lex than his daughter Tess, since he declares that her only purpose as a Luthor is to die so that Lionel can take her heart and use it to bring Lex back to life.
  • The Smothers Brothers, Tom and Dick, have made this a part of their act for decades. Specifically, how younger brother Dick was always adored, whereas older brother Tom got the short end of the stick. In fact, Tom's Catch-Phrase was "Mom always liked you best!" One of their bits talks about how, when Dick got a pet dog and a bicycle, Tom got a pet chicken and a wagon with only one wheel.
  • Supernatural:
    • Played with in the case of the Winchesters. Throughout Season One, Sam thinks that John hates him (when he left for college, he told him to never come back) while Dean is the one who obsessively follows his Dad's orders and can't seem to comprehend not following an order. But it's slowly revealed that Sam is the one who John cares the most about (although this could just be through the eyes of Dean) while Dean is the one who had to grow up too fast and was treated, well, more like a soldier than a son. Although John did try to make it up by doing a deal to save Dean's life, Dean's Daddy Issues (the fact that he still thinks he wasn't good enough for him and that he still thinks he's the one who should have died) continue to this very day. And the Yellow-Eyed Demon knows this. He even taunts Dean by saying that John arguing with Sam was 'more concern than he's ever shown you.'
    • Also exists among the angels, as Gabriel points out that they all know that 'Dad loved you best. More than Michael, more than me', discrediting Lucifer's claim that he hates humans because God loved them more. Gabriel reveals that Lucifer hates humans because he thought that God preferred them over him.
  • In That '70s Show, Red favors Laurie over Eric, as he's oblivious to the fact that she's the town slut. OTOH, Kitty's love for Eric goes into My Beloved Smother territory.
    • At one point, after Eric has missed an opportunity to get Laurie in trouble with Red for making out with her professor, this exchange happens:
      Eric: Oh, Mom! I had her right in my sights. I mean, she was right there in the cross-hairs.
      Kitty: Well, Eric, you know that I love you and your sister equally. But the next time you get an opportunity like that, for God's sake pull the trigger!
      • That opportunity comes later that season, though Eric really had nothing to do with it, other than helping bust Laurie for living with a guy. From that point on, Red realizes that Laurie isn't exactly as good of a person as she appears to be, but doesn't soften up on Eric at all.
    • Red also favors Hyde, his pseudo-adopted son, over Eric.
  • The Thorn Birds: As noted in the Literature folder, mother Fiona dotes on her oldest son Frank and completely ignores her other children. Her daughter Meggie angrily vows she will never do that to her own children... but twenty-odd years later she does, favoring her son Dane over her daughter Justine.
  • The Vampire Diaries: Stefan was strongly favored over his brother Damon by their father Giuseppe. The Originals are even more extreme. Scary patriarch Mikael blatantly favors his dutiful eldest son Elijah, while the sensitive Finn is apparently their mother's favorite. Klaus is everybody's unfavorite — partly for inadvertently causing the death of his younger brother, partly for not being Mikael's biological son, or possibly just for being Klaus — while the other siblings Rebekah and Kol seem rather less important.
  • All over the place in Veronica Mars:
    • "Lilly always said her parents adored Duncan and tolerated her. If she couldn't please them, she'd go out of her way to piss them off."
    • Aaron Echolls, who dotes on his daughter and beats his son. Made even worse by the fact that Trina refuses to believe Logan's claims of abuse and accuses him of lying in order to make their father look bad. This also inverts the standard "adopted vs. biological" relationship, as Aaron adopted Trina with his first wife, while Logan is his biological son.
    • Dick Casablancas Sr. is pretty blatant about favoring his eldest — which ends badly.
  • The West Wing presents something of the parent's point of view; President Bartlet clearly has a much more difficult relationship with his middle daughter Ellie as opposed to his eldest Elizabeth and particularly his youngest daughter Zoe, but when accused of this trope, Bartlet angrily denies that he loves any of his children less than the others. In fact, he clearly believes that he's the subject of Parental Favouritism from the other direction, in that he claims that Ellie loves her mother more than him.
  • Some episodes of Wife Swap have a family in which one or both of the parents have obvious favorite children. Normally the wife of the other family points this out to the father and adds rules pampering The Un-Favourite during the rules change. Generally the family learns their lesson in the end and is shown treating their children more equally in the "where are they now?" ending.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: The Russos favorite varies over the series. Jerry's favorite is Alex (due to being Daddy's Girl) for general purposes. Theresa's favorite is generally Justin. Jerry favors Justin for things involving Magic. But above all they realize Harper is most likely to take care of them in their old age, and to bring home athletic trophies. The only one to never get a moment of favoritism is Max.
  • Mostly averted in Wonderfalls, where they do treat all three of their children well. Nevertheless, there was this:
    Diana: Sharon go talk to your father, you're his favorite.
    Aaron: I thought I was his favorite.
    Diana: We don't have favorites.
  • The X-Files:
    • Scully is her father's favorite. They share a love of the book Moby-Dick; he calls her "Starbuck", and she calls him "Ahab". Following that tradition, she eventually ends up naming her dog "Queequeg".
    • Mulder's situation is a bit trickier. While both his parents hold some resentment over his sister's abduction, the favoritism of his parents is a little blurrier. At one point, it seems that his mother was given a choice of which child she would rather give up, and Samantha was that child. Though she later states that she couldn't choose, and Mulder's father chose instead.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Book of Genesis:
    • The story of Joseph and his brothers. Jacob had twelve sons by four wives; his favorite, Joseph, was the elder of his two sons by his deceased favorite wife, Rachel. Not only did Jacob give Joseph a special gift (traditionally a colorful coat, though translations vary), Joseph had prophetic dreams that the others would one day bow to him. In anger, the ten older brothers sold Joseph into slavery and faked his death; Jacob mourned for the next twenty-two years, while Rachel's other son, Benjamin, got promoted to favorite. Ultimately, the repentant brothers get into trouble with the Vizier of Egypt, and when he wants Benjamin as a slave, they come to his defense. It's at that point that the Vizier reveals that he's actually Joseph, and his attempt to get Benjamin was a Secret Test of Character.
    • Of course, Jacob himself had been his mother's favorite, though that was a case of Jacob and Esau.
    • Then there's Isaac, who was born to Abraham and Sarah very late, and after Sarah (in despair at a total lack of children) had told Abraham to have a child by her maid Hagar. Once Isaac was born, Ishmael did something that made Sarah upset, and she (with God's backing) told Abraham to send Ishmael and Hagar away.
    • However, Deuteronomy 21:15-17 prevents this in the case of a man having two wives, that, if he has sons of those two wives, and his first is from that of his unloved wife, then he cannot allow the firstborn of his loved wife to have the firstborn rights of inheritance in preference over his actual firstborn from his unloved wife, since that firstborn is considered "the beginning of his strength".
  • Zeus infamously left a lot of spawn all over the map, not all of which he was really all that involved with, but Athena was certainly his favorite, to the point of getting to borrow his trademark attributes and weapons whenever she pleased, closely followed by Heracles, Hermes, and Dionysus. Note that none of these are children of his legitimate wife, which infuriated her to no end.
    • Closer to the bottom of that list, we find Ares. Also Hephaestus, who actually got thrown off Olympus for a while—in one version, by Zeus for siding with Hera in a fight, and in another by Hera because he was born ugly.

    Radio 
  • The News Quiz, Season 83, Episode 1:
    Susan Calman: It's absolutely untrue to say you love all your children equally. I have no children, but I am a child of someone, and if you have children you do love one of them more than the others. Now if you're a child thinking "It's not me", you're right. Because you know if you're the favorite. It's usually the youngest, the cutest, the one that's on Radio 4. Hi, Mum and Dad!
    Sandi Toksvig: No, that's not true. I have three children and I say to all of them "You're my favorite, don't tell the others."

    Stand-up Comedy 

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the world of the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks published by Puffin in the 1980s through to the 1990s, the wealthy ruler of the city of Fang blatantly favors his elder son Sukumvit over his younger son Carnuss, making Carnuss develop a searing hatred for his brother. When Sukumvit becomes ruler of Fang on his father's death, he constructs the deadly Deathtrap Dungeon as a private hobby, challenging adventurers to try and survive going through it for a 10,000 gold piece prize. An embittered Carnuss sees a chance at getting revenge on his hated brother, and begins kidnapping people to test them until he can find someone tough enough to send as his champion to penetrate the dungeon and humiliate his brother. He eventually succeeds in the book Trial of Champions (where the dungeon had been remade after someone had beaten it once), only for his hated brother to turn the tables on him, offering the champion anything he wished on top of the gold, correctly guessing that what the champion wanted was revenge against Carnuss, and promptly killed him.
  • Warhammer 40,000 backstory has Horus being the first son found by the Emperor, who was later made Warmaster above his nineteen brothers and generally treated as the Emperor's eldest son. Ironically, he went on to betray the Emperor and lead The Unfavourites in what would become the bloodiest war in human history.

    Theater 
  • In Death of a Salesman, Willy favors Biff over Happy.
  • In King Lear, Lear favors Cordelia over his other daughters, until she refuses to praise him as lavishly as her sisters. Given Goneril and Regan's behavior, he had good reason to like Cordelia best.
  • In Wicked, Elphaba's father or at least, the father who raised her clearly prefers her sister Nessarose. It's heavily implied to be due to the fact that she was born green, and that that is the only reason. This indirectly led to the death of Elphaba and Nessarose's mother after their father made her drink poppy milk (or some liquid like that) to keep from having another green child. This led to Nessa's legs being crippled and their mother dying in childbirth.
    • The book suggests he might just blame Elphaba for that just a bit. And the fact that she can't bathe in water is a real pain in the twees too. Oh! And the sharp teeth. The deck's just kind of stacked against Elphaba here.
    • In the book, there's another reason. Nessa shares his religious zeal, moreso than Elphaba or their brother, Shell. That may be a chicken and egg situation.
  • The Lion in Winter:
    • John feels like this:
      John: Who says poor John? Don't everybody sob at once! My God, if I went up in flames there's not a living soul who'd pee on me to put the fire out!
      Richard: Let's strike a flint and see!
    • Geoffrey, in turn, has a bad case of Middle Child Syndrome:
      Geoffrey: It's not the power I feel deprived of... it's the mention I miss. There's no affection for me here: You wouldn't think I'd want that, would you?
  • In Next to Normal, Diane shows favoritism toward Gabe over Natalie. This is an especially sore point, as Gabe has been dead since before Natalie was born.
    • Natalie brings this up her her song "Superboy and the Invisible Girl."

    Video Games 
  • The DS version of Dragon Quest V has this with the Briscolettis. Elder daughter Debora is a self-absorbed Rich Bitch, while her sister Nera is Spoiled Sweet and adored by everyone. While Debora is still able to get all the material goods she wants from her parents, Rodrigo clearly favors Nera, and appears to have simply given up on trying to rein her sister in. Should the player choose to marry Debora, the father reacts with surprise, but throws his full support behind the wedding, and afterward confesses that you've made him very happy as he'd given up hope of Debora getting married a long time ago.
  • This is a game mechanic in FEAR 3's cooperative campaign. Whichever brother has the highest score at the end of the campaign is deemed Alma's favorite, and will kill/consume the other.
  • An interesting case occurs in Kana: Little Sister. At the beginning of the story, Taka (the main character) is resentful towards Kana because their parents tend to favor her (due to her terminal illness). This position is reversed towards the end of the game (which takes place almost a decade later). When Taka offers to donate one of his kidneys to Kana, his parents are opposed to it, because they don't want Taka (their true son) to take risks for Kana's sake (because Kana is adopted)
  • Odin Sphere: Early on, it becomes painfully obvious that Odin shows more love to Velvet (who resents him for very good reasons) than to his other children (who absolutely revere him or, in the case of Ingway, despise him). This still doesn't stop him from allowing her to be executed to save face in front of his vassals. Odin's not exactly Father of the Year. He eventually admits this and starts to regret it.
  • In the Super Mario Bros. series, once Bowser Jr. appeared on the scene, it appeared that Bowser Jr. was Bowser's favorite child, preferring him over his other seven children, the Koopalings. However, it became clear that this wasn't the case as Junior was Bowser's only child, with the Koopalings being relegated to high ranking members of the Koopa Troop instead.
  • A huge plot point in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade. King Desmond favors his daughter Guinevere and hates his son Zephiel because Guinevere is the child of his beloved old girlfriend while Zephiel is born from an unhappy marriage to Queen Helene. To make things worse, Zephiel is The Ace and insists on pleasing his father out of love, while Guinevere loves her brother but is condemned to be in Zephiel's shadow since, well, she's a girl and a bastard. This becomes so bad that Desmond hires the Black Fang to murder Zephiel right before his coming of age ceremony so Guinevere can become heir apparent instead. This ends up backfiring horribly. If anything, Desmond would be glad to know that Guinevere became queen of Bern in the end.
  • In To the Moon it is revealed that Johnny's mother always favored his twin brother, Joey, over him; which is the reason why, after Joey was accidentally run over and killed by his mother, she made Johnny take the beta-blockers which made him forget everything up to the accident, in order to mold Johnny into Joey's Replacement Goldfish in her mind.
  • King's Quest (2015) plays around with this in regards to King Graham's twin children. His son Alexander was kidnapped as a baby and Graham spent the next 18 years trying to find him, apparently neglecting his daughter Rosella to an extent. However, it doesn't play out as one would expect because Graham and Rosella get along quite well thanks to their similar personalities, but he had a hard time connecting with Alexander at first because of how dissimilar they are; in effect, each child is half of what Graham wanted (a son who shares his love of adventure and puzzles). Eventually he realized that he was wrongly blaming Alexander for not being the "perfect son" he wanted, and accepts him for who he is. However, the favoritism is played much straighter with Graham's grandchildren: he blatantly favors Alexander's daughter Gwendolyn over Rosella's son Gart, doting on her and telling her stories from his youth and rewriting Daventry's laws so she could inherit the throne after his death.

     Web Media 
  • In Awesome Video Games, Dad obviously prefers Chet over Ace. Whether this has any lasting effects is yet to be seen.
  • In If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, the Emperor spends entire one episode badmouthing all of his sons... except for Sanguinus, who, in canon, is described as most similar to him. When Custodian lampshades it, the Emperor gets angry at him.
    Don't you talk shit about my fabulous fucking hawk-boy. He died for me, so be grateful.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Eugene Greenhilt favored his daughter Julia over his son Roy, because Julia became a wizard like him, while Roy became a fighter. ("I can tell because you almost never use the phrase, 'crushing depression' when talking about her.")
    • In a later example, Elan's father Tarquin favors Elan over his other son Nale, even though Elan is a hero. But at least he's good at being a hero (...kind of) while Nale is too short-sighted and egotistical to be an effective villain.
  • An unusual case in Misfile, Ash Upton manages to be on both sides of the Parental Favoritism divide thanks to Rumisiel's little filing mishap. As a boy, she had no contact with her mother and her relationship with her father was distant at best (his plans for Ash's summer vacation apparently involved re-roofing the house). As a girl she has a close relationship with both parents who are much more involved in her life. For some reason she feels this sucks.
    • Also a subversion, as the change was due completely to Ash's actions. In Ash's past (s)he wrote a letter to his/her mom. As a boy, masculine pride made him throw it away. As a girl, the letter was sent.
  • A humorous variant is found in Something*Positive. Fred MacIntire has two (living) biological children, Davan and Dahlia, and an adopted daughter, Monette. His fourth "child" is Davan's friend PeeJee, who lives with them for a long time; one strip has him admitting that she's his favorite. It's Played for Laughs, of course, as it's made remarkably clear through all the Deadpan Snarker dialogue that Fred's actually a damn good father.
  • Bob and George: Dr. Light goes gaga over the still being created X: you're Daddy's Favorite.
  • In the Nuzlocke Comics, Norman shows favoritism to "Good-Ruby", a Vigoroth that he dresses in a hat similar to Ruby's, over Ruby.
  • In Batman and Sons, Batman obviously favors Terry over Dick, Jason, or Tim. Most likely due to him being Batman's only biological son (and thus, another Batman). This might not be biological favoritism so much as Terry (being a baby) not having the ability to backtalk yet like the older boys. The kids can be very blunt about how messed up Batman is (much to his annoyance) but Terry's the only one who can't say it yet.
  • In Sinfest, Monique scolds the TV and asks why it can't be more like its younger brother the Internet, which gloats in the last panel.
  • This trope initiates The Cloud Maker's plot. Basically, the creator-god tells his three children-gods to maintain the Earth while he leaves to do vague plot things. When he comes back, the sky-goddess and sea-god have done well, but the land-god has neglected parts of his territory and left it to wither. So the creator-god rewards the sea-god by giving the ocean life, as in animals. (The sky-goddess would have been given the same, but she was "too young and inexperienced" for it.) Then the creator-god leaves again, and the land-god starts getting very resentful of his siblings...
  • Played for Laughs via Unreliable Narrator in Least I Could Do. Ryan is describing how he was kept in a cage and fed older newspapers by his family while his big brother got extravagant meals. In reality his parents were loving to both of their kids.
    John: "You know he's making this up right?"
    Mick: "I know but his stories amuse me."
  • Sticky Dilly Buns invokes the trope a couple of times:
  • RWBY: Weiss's father, Jacques, is heavily implied to prefer her little brother Whitley over her and her sister. During a shot showing his work desk, Whitley's is the only picture that he keeps there. Halfway through season 4, Weiss causes a scene and Jacques takes her off his will and reveals that Whitley is the only one that will inherit his company and fortune. It's implied he has taken Winter out of the will when she joined the military against his will and Whitley is the only one to never have challenged him.
  • In Dumbing of Age Sal and Walky's mother blatantly favors Walky, to the point of not even acknowledging that Sal's in the room when she visits. Walky thinks it's because of Sal robbing a convenience store in her youth, but Sal argues it's because Walky is lighter skinned than she is. When Walky remembers that he was in a Christian children's show as a child-and Sal wasn't-he starts realizing she may have a point.
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, King Cold clearly favored Freeza over Cooler, something that the latter seemed to develop a complex over and Freeza was all too willing to hold over his head.

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of American Dad! had Stan trying to insist that Francine's (adoptive) parents did not love her as much as they loved their biological daughter, Gwen. Francine starts to believe it when Stan finds her parents' will leaving all their stuff to Gwen. But later, the father reveals that they only left everything to Gwen because she's apparently a moron and needed all the help she could get, while they knew Francine was already well taken care of because she married a good man.
    • For the Smiths themselves, they by far treat Steve better than their adult daughter Hayley, Francine because Steve is technically still a child and thus "her baby", and Stan because Hayley opposes him in pretty much every ideological way.
  • Major part of Zuko's and Azula's backstory in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Azula was daddy's little girl, while Zuko (the eldest son and heir) was hated by his father just for being alive.
    • In The Search, we're finally getting more insight into the Royal Family's Dynamic.
    • Also, Azula, due to her upbringing by Ozai (whose favoritism toward Azula means he hates Zuko), mistakenly believes that her mother favored Zuko and that she didn't love her. As a result she became evil and ultimately insane. Or was the fact that she was evil and insane the reason why her mother didn't give her extra care and attention?
    • Fire Lord Azulon wasn't much better. He seemed to greatly favor Iroh over Ozai and was greatly angered when the latter suggested that Iroh's birthright be revoked. This favoritism extends to his grandchildren as well as shown by his sympathy over the death of Iroh's son (and lack of anger toward Iroh for abandoning the siege), and by his disinterest in Azula's impressive firebending display and his sentencing Zuko to death in order to punish Ozai.
    • Aang didn't technically have parents (given that Airbending Air Nomad children were sent off to live with the monks) but it was fairly obvious that he was Monk Gyatso's favorite.
    • The rough counterpart to the Fire Nation royals, Hakoda's family, doesn't seem to have this problem. Hakoda doesn't show any favoritism for his son or daughter. And while Ozai and favored child Azula came to share certain traits, Hakoda and Sokka are similar without this affecting Katara negatively.
  • The trend continues in The Legend of Korra with Noatok being favored by his father over Tarrlok. However Noatok hates his father for this just as much or more than Tarrlok does.
    • In Season 2, it is revealed that Aang himself favored Tenzin over his two other children, Kya and Bumi. Mostly due to Tenzin being the only air bender among them and thus, the only one able to carry on the burden of restoring an almost wiped out culture, pretty much forcing Aang to invest a lot of time in Tenzin's training and teaching. Which is sad but at least a little understandable but then Aang would take Tenzin to places just to goof off but still left Kya and Bumi behind. This favoritism even extended to the Air Acolytes, who seem to almost worship Tenzin and his Air bending children while having no idea that Kya and Bumi even existed. This favoritism had some negative consequences for Tenzin as he felt he needed to live up to his father's legacy and even viewed himself as "The son of Avatar Aang and the hope for future airbenders" rather then just as "Tenzin".
  • In Bob's Burgers, we have an inverted example with Louise blatantly preferring Bob over Linda, though in later seasons she does start hanging out with her mother too.
    • Gayle claims she's the favourite between her and Linda, but she is an enormously Unreliable Narrator.
  • In Bojack Horseman, Beatrice's flashbacks show that her parents vastly preferred her older brother Crackerjack to her, though she didn't mind too much because she adored her big brother as well. It ends very badly.
  • In Codename: Kids Next DoorOperation: Z.E.R.O., it was stated by Grandfather himself that he favored Monty Uno over Benedict, who became Father and came to idolize Grandfather. Even after being revived by Benedict, Grandfather wished that Monty was on his side because he saw more potential in him and, unlike Benedict, Monty actually had the spine to stand up to him, becoming Numbuh Zero and founder of the current generation of the KND. When he realizes that Monty remembers the past and is ready to fight him, he actually takes a moment to sincerely offer him a place by his side, though he doesn't hesitate to get ready and try and zombify him after he refuses.
  • In the DCAU, Darkseid shows rather blatant partental favoritism towards his younger son Orion... Who is also his Arch-Enemy and wants him dead. Not only is his other son, Kalibak, incompetent (despite being a devoted servant to Darkseid), but Orion absolutely hates having Darkseid's approval.
  • Sarah is blatantly the favourite child in Ed Eddn Eddy, being spoiled rotten by her parents while they ignore and neglect Ed, who ironically is much nicer than his little sister.
  • Pete on Goof Troop habitually forces his son PJ into servitude. Tellingly, in one episode one of the chores he had to do was "play with Pistol," his younger sister. Generally speaking, Pete puts PJ through all manner of psychological torment and holds him to ridiculous standards while letting Pistol do as she pleases and giving her everything she wants. Resultingly, Pistol is a Spoiled Brat and a Daddy's Girl, while PJ is an Extreme Doormat, a Shrinking Violet, and a Nervous Wreck who has some issues with his dad. Weirdly, though, there are some episodes where Pete treats them equally but in those episodes PJ and Pistol are played as Satellite Characters. But for Peg, it's reversed, where she would talk nice to PJ and act like a mother should, ( even like a mother to his friend Max also) but will yell and fuss at Pistol for every little thing.
  • In the Hercules TV series, Phil and Hercules go visit Phil's mother, where she openly calls Phil's brother her favorite, going on about how he's a successful salesman, which Phil resents. However, when the brother comes to visit, he bemoans to Phil that their mother goes on about Phil's accomplishments to him. The mother admits that she did this to make sure neither would grow a big head, and then proceeds to gab to both about their sister's accomplishments.
  • In Hey Arnold!, favoritism seems strong in the Pataki family; Olga is praised for her accomplishments and is given more attention than Helga, which causes a one-sided strain between the two. However, Olga actually wishes she could be treated like Helga, without all the fussing and attention.
    Olga: You must think I'm lucky, all the attention I get from them. I have to perform for them all the time like some kind of wind-up doll. I get really sick of it. You're lucky they don't even notice you.
  • On Invader Zim, Professor Membrane seems to favor his daughter, Gaz to his "poor, insane son" Dib.
  • Kaeloo: Mr. Cat was apparently his mother's favorite child, to the chagrin of his two older brothers.
  • Kick Buttowski plays this for comedy. Kick, Brad, and Harold all know Brianna is number one in the house, so they all compete for number 2.
    • A later episode revealed that Kick was actually Honey's favorite, Not Brianna due to being so much like her (secretly being a water sports daredevil herself). This drives her other kids crazy.
  • On King of the Hill, Hank's father Cotton has another son in his old age and names the infant "Good Hank." Yeah.
  • Any time Pickles' parents get any screen time in Metalocalypse, it's made abundantly clear that Seth, Pickles' older brother, is the favorite child. To put it into perspective: Seth is an ex-con who lives with his wife (of questionable virtue) in an attic above their garage in Wisconsin. Pickles is the drummer for the most successful band in the world.
  • Moral Orel: Bloberta's mother clearly prefers her older sister and younger brother over her, as they're much better singers than she is and are able to perform in a choir. Although not the best father, Clay prefers Orel over Shapey, as he suspects the latter might not actually be his son. He's right.
  • In Ninjago, Lord Garmadon points out to his brother, Sensei Wu, that the latter was always their father's favorite before escaping the Underworld.
  • Dr. Doofenshmirtz on Phineas and Ferb grew up resenting his "goody-two-shoes brother, the favorite of my mother" Roger. Even worse, his father preferred the dog, naming it "Only Son", and the only reason his mother liked his brother more was because said brother was better at kickball.
  • The Proud Family: Suga Mama prefers her eldest son Bobby over Oscar. However, it's a deconstruction since Suga Mama's doting resulted in Bobby not doing anything with his life, being unemployed (though trying and failing to become a singer), unmarried and still living with his mama while Oscar at least has a job, his own house and a wife and daughter.
  • On Robot and Monster, Robot and Gart's mother prefers the latter because he's successful at life and not an embarrassment to the family name.
  • In the Rocket Power movie "Race Across New Zealand," Ray suffers an episode of this when memories of his defeat in the same competition that his kids are competing in resurface at the sight of his former rival, whose son is also competing. When the phrase "Like father, like son" comes up, Ray then focuses all of his attention on Otto to make sure he beats his rival's son for revenge, leaving Reggie out in the cold.
  • In Rugrats, Angelica once convinced Phil and Lil that every family had one favorite, and that their sibling was it, making both of them The Un-Favourite.
  • In The Simpsons, separate episodes have confirmed that Lisa is Homer's Daddy's Girl of a favorite kid and Maggie is Marge's, leaving Bart as The Un-Favourite. Ironically, despite this, Lisa suffers from massive Middle Child Syndrome anyway, due to Bart requiring so much energy to deal with.
    Marge: Bart's such a handful, and Maggie needs attention. But all the while, our little Lisa's becoming a young woman.
    • She also feels like The Un-Favourite because Bart gets far more attention the few times he actually does something right instead of his usual bratty hijinks, which she ascribes to him being both the oldest child and the only boy.
    Lisa: Bart gets everything, because he's the oldest and he's a boy. And Maggie gets whatever's left over, because she's the youngest and she's a baby.
    • On the flip side, all three children unanimously prefer their mother Marge over their short-tempered Bumbling Dad.
  • The Year Without a Santa Claus: Even though both of the Miser Brothers are petty bickerers with each other, it's stated by Heat Miser that their Mother liked Snow Miser more than him.
  • Arthur's parents tend to heavily favor his sister DW over him. However, they favor baby Kate over DW.
  • In The Buzz on Maggie first Maggie and then Pupert becomes their uncle's favorite. Aldrin, who has been The Un-Favourite for years, takes this in stride until Maggie suggests a scheme that could benefit both of them. She doesn't hesitate to throw Aldrin under the bus later in the episode, wanting the glory all to herself even though Aldrin had helped her.

    Real Life 
  • The memoirs Chinese Cinderella and Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah tell the story of how she was victimized at the bottom of the pile in her family. She and her other siblings are treated far worse than her step-siblings, her especially for being the youngest and because of Maternal Death? Blame the Child. The family does some extremely cruel things to her, from giving her pet duckling to an untrained dog to maul, to her brothers giving her an orange drink only to reveal they peed in it, to sending her to a boarding school in a war-torn city which has been evacuated, in the hope that she will die there. Her relationship with her family (especially her step-mother) did improve as an adult (though she was still an afterthought to them), and she is still not left anything in either her father's or stepmother's wills.
  • Both Oda Nobunaga and Date Masamune had to fight a civil war within their domains during their early career that were the result of this. In either case, while the (late) fathers supported them, their mothers disliked them for a reason—for Oda, his wildness; and for Date, his blindness in one eye—and would prefer their younger brothers to succeed the position. Interestingly, Nobunaga's solution was to assassinate his brother Nobuyuki, while Masamune offed his mum because she'd tried to poison him.
  • Laws throughout history have often geared parents from making the first born son the "favorite." Inheritance went to him first, and often the oldest boy had the second position of power in the house. Having only a daughter was (and some places, still is) a horrible dishonor because nobody can carry on your family name.
  • Time Magazine did a feature on this trope, claiming that it affects every family with more than one child.
  • Judging by the histories mentioned in The Chronicles Of The Three Kingdoms, this is almost certainly what did in the Yuan family, since Yuan Shao's volatile mix of indecisiveness and favoritism led to some seriously questionable choices, namely in declaring both his oldest son and his youngest son as heirs rather than following the traditional right of the firstborn. The end result after his death was massive familial infighting between the oldest and youngest sons and their supporters, The Un-Favourite middle child running away from it all to try and bide his time to gain power, and ultimately the entire feuding family being killed due to Cao Cao in one way or another.
  • In her private writings, Queen Victoria acknowledged that her second son, Arthur, the Duke of Connaught, was her favorite child. Her husband Prince Albert, meanwhile, adored their firstborn, Princess Victoria.
  • Corin and Lynn Redgrave have both stated that much to their chagrin, their sister, Vanessa Redgrave, was the "shining star" and favourite of their father, actor Sir Michael Redgrave. Lynn even wrote and performed a highly acclaimed one-woman play, "Shakespeare for my father", on the subject.
  • Donald Trump has stated that he is proud of all his adult children, though he specifically mentioned that it was "to a lesser extent" with Tiffany.
  • Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria-Hungary and his consort Elisabeth/Sissi had four children. Out of them, their second daughter Gisela was the apple of Franz's eye, whereas Sissi's preferred child was their youngest kid (and the only one she could raise in her own terms), Marie Valerie.


Alternative Title(s): Parental Favouritism

Top