Scooter: Me first, I'm older!
Skeeter: Only by a minute!
Twins often argue, among themselves or with others, about the respect they are due because of age, even though the difference is minuscule. In the most common form, Alice will attempt to give her side leverage by saying that she is oldest, which will cause Bob to roll his eyes and retort "Yeah, by seven minutes," and therefore defuse such an argument. If that fails to defuse it, it can easily spiral into an Argument of Contradictions due to its inherent pettiness.
Even if the siblings don't argue over this, establishing the birth order of a set of twins, triplets, and so on also serves the narrative purpose of letting the story assign them the appropriate older/younger sibling tropes. For instance, with triplets, or twins with a third sibling, the eldest might be the responsible (or just bossy) one, the middle one a Deadpan Snarker and/or overshadowed by their siblings, and the youngest the most youthful and exuberant.
- In Naruto, Hiashi Hyuga was born seconds before Hizashi. The difference is especially crucial in the Hyuga clan, as Hiashi grew up to become head of the clan, while Hizashi was made into a branch house member and expected to obey Hiashi and give his life to protect him... or so Neji thought, under threat of his cursed seal activating and causing him pain or killing him.
- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED: When Cagalli tells Athrun she's glad to have Kira for a little brother, he teasingly asks her if he might not be her big brother instead. She grumpily insists that she was born first. Of course, given the circumstances of Kira's gestation, he wasn't technically "born" at all, making things extremely murky no matter which way you view it.
- Inverted in Lucky Star. Tsukasa tells Kagami it's good she's older, because it would be bad for an older sister to need so much help with schoolwork from the younger. Kagami tells her it's bad anyway.
- Despite being twins, Unsui of Eyeshield 21 is referred to as the "elder brother" quite often. It's partially because he acts the part, often taking responsibility for his "younger brother's" actions, despite the fact that they're the same age. Agon could be seen as an extreme (and violent) version of the Annoying Younger Sibling trope.
- In Lyrical Nanoha, the Numbers cyborgs type numbers do not represent their actual birth order; Sette (Type VII), is the youngest of them, while Dieci (Type X) is older than several others. As a result, Quattro (Type IV) is annoyed that Cinque (Type V) being technically older due to being born first, and refers to her as she would a younger sibling. In StrikerS Sound Stage X and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid, Nove is somewhat unwilling to accept that she's Subaru's younger sister after her adoption.The order(spoilers)
- Vash and Knives' screwed-up relationship in Trigun contains shades of this. Since no one was actually watching when they were born and their mother couldn't talk even if she hadn't apparently suffered Death by Childbirth, they don't know who's older. They're also theoretically speaking English, even though they're actually speaking Japanese, and since the normal Japanese words for brother require knowledge of birth order they use the vague and slightly standoffish term 'kyoudai,' or 'sibling' most of the time. Knives appears to have appointed himself older in a lot of their interactions, but when they were kids this role (in the manga) very slightly defaulted to Vash, and he has the responsibility to 'take care of Knives.'
- Their arguments about whether to kill off the human race etc. all boil down partly to a debate about which twin has more authority over the other. Being psychotic and incapable of self-doubt has given Knives the more forceful personality, but Vash is at bottom tougher. It never actually is settled; even after Vash wins the clash of philosophies and Knives accepts his loss, he takes up a 'watching over you' role while he waits to die that suits an elder brother better.
- Anime Knives is pretty definitely finagling the elder role from the start, though, although they do still use 'kyoudai.' Vash even seems to have accepted his authority for a couple of years after the Fall, before flipping out that Knives is still on his Kill All Humans kick, shooting him in the leg, and running. This has led to a split understanding in the fanbase.
- Liza and Tate from the Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire have this dynamic, with Tate suffering a bit of an inferiority complex considering how Liza holds her seniority (and the fact that she continuously pummels him in battles) over him.
- Zigzagged in Castle Town Dandelion. Played straight with Shu and Kanade in Episodes 6A and 10B, where Shu has to remind Kanade that he's the older twin between them, despite they're just 30 minutes apart. Averted with Misaki and Haruka, as Haruka has no problem calling Misaki his older sister, and also had to correct others that said that Haruka was the older sibling.
- Illya and Chloe have this dynamic in Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA. As they're both different aspects of the same person, the arguments stem from how each of them defines which of them is older. Chloe is mentally older, but she has only had a separate physical existence for a short time. In practice, Chloe us usually the more mature one, but will allow Illya to act like the elder in order to soothe her pride.
- A non-twin, non-human example occurs in Limitless Potential. After Roll is rebuilt with a new body, she and X frequently argue over which of the two should be considered the "older" sibling. X defends that, since her current body was recently built and activated, that makes him the older "physically". Roll on the other hand argues that, since she has years more memories and experience from her previous life than X (plus her original body being built first), that makes her the older "emotionally".
- Widget and Sludge in the 2009 Astro Boy film.
"By ninety seconds!"
- Played with in Meet the Robinsons, when thirteen-year-old Wilbur tries to pull this on twelve-year-old Lewis. Of course, as a time traveler, Wilbur technically won't even be born for seventeen years. More to the point, Lewis is his father.
- Variant: the French musical Les Demoiselles de Rochefort has the younger twin calling the other "old girl," leading the other to reply:
Solange: Just because I was born fifteen minutes earlier doesn't mean you can call me "old girl!"
- The seniority of rank example occurs in the 1964 film Zulu, between Lieutenant Chard and Lieutenant Bromhead. This might have been the origin for the Voyager example.
- Variation: A deleted scene from The Boondock Saints includes the main characters trying to get their mother to tell them which of them is older, presumably so they will then be able to use this trope. Eventually, she tells them, "The one with the bigger cock!"
- In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Maximoff twins have a moment like this. Pietro normally follows Wanda's lead, but when she tells him to focus on helping the people of Sokovia against Ultron rather than protecting her, he complies but jokingly reminds her that he's twelve minutes older (in the original comics, it is traditionally Wanda who is the older twin).
- In A Cinderella Story, the ugly stepsisters argue about this...and everything else. (The shorter one, Gabriella, is older by "a minute and 26 seconds," by the way.)
- In The Other (1972), the older brother (by 20 minutes) receives the heirloom ring from his father but when he dies, his younger brother is jealous of it and steals the ring from the corpse's finger.
- In Peter Rabbit, Mopsy claims that she's 16 seconds older than Flopsy and Cotton-tail, however, she admits later as she thinks she's dying that she isn't the oldest, that Flopsy actually is, and that Dad had just told her she was the oldest to make her feel better. After she realizes that she's covered in tomato, not blood, she tells Flopsy "You never heard any of that stuff." When this is mentioned again, it's revealed that Cotton-tail is actually the eldest sister!
- Sweet Valley High: "Elizabeth was 4 minutes older than Jessica, but sometimes it felt more like 4 years..." is mentioned at least once in every book. Elizabeth likes to throw this fact into Jessica's face whenever she thinks Jessica is being irresponsible, but Jessica's not impressed.
- Thief of Time: When the Auditors of Reality obtain bodies they begin to argue about who incarnated first because "seniority is seniority".
- Star Trek Expanded Universe:
- Averted in the novel Probe, which features Romulan twins Jaina and Dejan. Dejan likes to refer to Jaina as his "Little Sister" despite the fact that she's actually the older twin. Jaina doesn't seem to mind, despite the fact that according to that book, being the older of a set of twins is a very big deal in Romulan culture.
- In Peter David's Star Trek: TNG novel Vendetta, Picard's old Academy classmate Morgan Korsmo tries to give him orders because he got his captain's pips a few weeks before Picard.
- X-Wing Series: The "promoted two minutes earlier is still seniority" variant was used in Aaron Allston's Wraith Squadron novel.
- Percy Jackson: Done with Apollo and Artemis.
Artemis: I'm fine, Apollo. And I am not your little sister.
Apollo: Hey, I was born first.
Artemis: We're twins! How many millennia do we have to argue—
- The Chronicles of Narnia, The Horse and His Boy. King Loon explains that Prince Cor, rather than his twin brother Prince Corin, is first in line to succession, because he's the elder by 20 minutes. Corin is quite happy about this while Cor is not.
- Averted in Heinlein's The Rolling Stones (1952), where the twins Castor and Pollux jokingly address one another as "Grandpa" and "Junior".
- Sea Legs: a children's novel by Alex Shearer has a twist on this trope. Eric and Clive are twins, though not identical ones, and Clive is perfectly willing to admit that he was born second but only, he insists, because Eric shoved him out of the way when they were being born. At the end of the novel, the midwife who was there when Eric and Clive were born pays a visit and reveals that she had gotten them mixed up, that it was actually Clive who was born first. Becoming the eldest changes Clive's perspective on life.
- Played With in Animorphs: when Yeerk twins are born, one is somehow designated "primary" and the other "lesser," which is basically built-in Parental Favoritism (except not actually by the parents, since they die giving birth). Visser Three is a twin, and always got opportunities for advancement over his brother. Esplin-9466 Lesser responded by becoming rich and powerful in human society and also becoming a cannibalistic serial killer.
- A non-sibling version occurs in The Andalite Chronicles with Elfangor and Arbron: both are trainees at the very bottom of their ship's authority totem pole, but Elfangor technically has four days seniority over Arbron. He normally doesn't bring it up (though he thinks it when Arbron is being annoying), but when the two of them get the opportunity to participate in a battle and have to decide who's going to be the pilot or gunner for their fighter, Elfangor can't resist playing the seniority card to grab the pilot spot for himself.
- Journey to Chaos: Forge Enaz insists that he is older than his twin Sister, Annala, despite their mother telling him that neither is older than the other every time it comes up. He still acts like Annala's big brother because of his Big Brother Instinct.
- It's one of the many, many things about which the eponymous twins bicker in Beverly Cleary's book Mitch and Amy. Amy is the elder twin by ten minutes, and she occasionally likes to rub it in her brother's face that he will never be older than she is.
- Played for Drama in The Lady Grace Mysteries's book Assassin. Charles and Hector were twin brothers and the eldest stood to inherit a vast fortune, but there was some confusion over who was the firstborn twin; the nurse tied a red string around the ankle of the firstborn to identify him, but the string fell off when the nurse was rescuing the babies from a fire. The nurse insisted that Charles had the string and so he was the main heir; Hector really didn't take it well, insisting that he was the firstborn and Charles had 'stolen' his rightful inheritance. This led to Hector faking his death, kidnapping Charles and taking his place in an attempt to trick wealthy young heiress Lady Grace into marrying him.
- The Brothers García: Larry and Lorena do this quite a bit since Lorena is one minute older than Larry.
- The Suite Life of Zack & Cody: Zack is ten minutes older than Cody and he has no problems making sure his brother remembers that fact.
- Star Trek:
- Data and Lore in Star Trek: The Next Generation, androids created with the same physical template, both argue that seniority gives them precedence. (Lore had lied and said Data was the older twin.)
- A rare non-sibling example found in Star Trek: Voyager: Paris tried to order Torres to do something. Torres refuses on the grounds that they're the same rank, so Paris plays the seniority card. Torres immediately points out that he only has about a week over her. (Paris also points out that he's a bridge officer and she isn't.)
- And a rare non-twin example: On Soap, there is an exchange between Jessica and Mary where they're trying to decide which one is the older sister. They definitely remember that they're a year apart, but each one seems to think that they're the younger one. (Remember, they're at a point in their lives where younger is better — both of them are grandmothers by the end of the show's run.)
- On All Together Now, Anna comments on how she is fifteen minutes older than Thomas and wonders if she kicked him in the head on the way out.
- An episode of Pair of Kings plays with this; Brady claims to be the older twin, prompting Boomer to go to an oracle to find proof. However, this means that whichever twin is proven to be the youngest will lose their title and power as the only reason they were both made king was because their birth order was unknown.
- Larry, Darryl, and Darryl from Newhart spent an episode competing for leadership based on varying accounts of which one was born first.
- Property Brothers: Jonathan is four minutes older than Drew, and will occasionally try to use this fact to one-up his brother.
- Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn: Of the quadruplets, Dawn brags to her brothers about being the oldest by four seconds.
Dawn: I learned a lot in those four seconds.
- In The Bible, the twin sons Esau and Jacob start their squabbling in the womb; Esau manages to be born first, with Jacob clutching at his foot. Esau is the firstborn and set to inherit; but depending on whose interpretation you accept,note he either sold his birthright to his brother for a pittance, or else was cheated out of it by a conniving sibling. In an earlier instance, the Bible tells us that a prudent midwife seeing the mother is having twins will take care to tie a red thread to the wrist of the firstborn, to establish his seniority. In Genesis 38, this leads to the strange case of Pharez and Zarah - where Zarah gets a hand out first but Pharez shoves ahead. And an extra-Biblical legend suggests Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve, were twin brothers; look at the rivalry they had.
- In Hi and Lois, Ditto overpowers twin sister Dot to take the last cookie. He justifies feeling entitled to the cookie by pointing out, "I'm older. I was born five minutes before you." In the last panel, Dot grumbles, "He probably elbowed me out of the way then too."
- Used at the beginning of the Peabody-winning drama "Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom."
- Non-twin variation: In La Cenerentola, Rossini's opera adaptation of Cinderella, Clorinda, the elder of the two stepsisters, is prone to asserting "I'm the elder!" when she wants to lord over her sister Tisbe. When she uses this to try to convince the prince to marry her, Tisbe protests "I'm the younger! I'll grow old later!"
- In Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, Stella is older than Loretta and tends to take on a larger share of authority and responsibility. At the end of the game, while Stella tells her father that it was an older sister's duty to bear the responsibility, he tells her not to overdo her role before passing on. When Stella collapses sobbing, Loretta tells her that she will become stronger so she can take more of the burden and Stella will not have to suffer as much.
- Dante and Vergil in Devil May Cry. Vergil is the slightly older twin brother... and acts like it.
- Dragon Quest VIII: Twins Cash and Carrie try to use this on each other. The problem is, since they were both adopted, neither knows who the older sibling is.
- Indirectly invoked in Dragon Age II. Hawke has two younger siblings, the twins Carver and Bethany. Carver is the older twin, making Bethany technically the youngest of the three, and the game fully plays him up as the angsty middle child and Bethany as Daddy's baby girl.
- Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly doesn't have a squabble among the twins themselves, but confusion over which is older is a major plot point. Technically speaking, Mayu is the elder twin, and Mio refers to her as "onee-chan", as one would expect from the younger sister. The ritual the two have gotten pulled into by the ghosts of the Lost Village dictates that the elder twin strangles the younger as part of the sacrifice. It turns out that All God's Village subscribed to an old belief that the elder twin was the one who was born later, as a good elder sibling would let their younger sibling go first to make sure they're okay. The twist ending then is that it is Mio who ends up strangling Mayu.
- Final Fantasy:
- Inverted in Final Fantasy VI, where Sabin affectionately calls his twin Edgar "big brother", the imprecision of which is Lampshaded by the other characters. Further toyed with in that Sabin, due to his years of training in the wilderness, is way bigger physically than his pampered royal brother.
- Yuri and Chelink in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates have this argument constantly, with Chelinka insisting that Meeth told her she's a couple of minutes older.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Koume and Kotake have a moment within an argument, compounded by the fact that one of them misrepresents her own age to her own twin.
- In Love & Pies, Joe takes offense to being called "baby brother" by Sam, even if the latter's two minutes older than him.
- In Mass Effect: Andromeda, if the player opts for the female Player Character, she mentions in the prologue that she never lets her brother forget the fact that he's a minute younger.
- In No More Heroes, we find out that Travis and Henry are twin brothers; however, it is not discussed until the sequel (in an overly long answering machine message) that Henry is supposedly the older twin, something Travis is quick to make a snarky remark on:
Travis: Big brother? How do you know I didn't pop out first?
Henry: You're prob'ly spoutin' off about which one of us popped out first.
- Averted in Super Mario Bros. Whenever he's not a Heroic Mime like his brother, Luigi is more than happy to address Mario as "Big bro" or something similar. Particularly noticeable in Super Paper Mario's epilogue, where it's the very first thing you read.
- Averted in Twisted Wonderland. It's completely unclear which Leech twin is the older, Floyd refers to himself as neither younger nor older, and the two never argue about superiority.
- Vex and Vax from Critical Role have this debate - or rather, Vex's player Laura Bailey did, when someone asked for the twins'note ages on Twitter:
Laura: Vax is ancient. Vex is young and spry and smells of elderflowers.
- In the SuperMarioLogan episode, "Cody's Sister!", Cody is revealed to be twelve seconds older than his twin sister, Katy.
- 3-2-1 Penguins!: Jason notes that Michelle is only 5 minutes older and holds out his hand to indicate "5" only to realize that as a cartoon he only has four digits per hand.
- Hank Venture mentioned that he and Dean were about 4 minutes apart in The Venture Brothers. How true this is is debatable, since they're clones and may well have been activated at exactly the same time.
- Lampshaded in a Space Ghost episode:
Jan: Jace, we're twins. You're only two minutes older than me.
Jace: A guy can learn a lot in two minutes!
- Inverted in The Simpsons, when Selma laments Patty's good fortune in being "two minutes younger" and thus presumably more desirable to men than Selma herself.
- Rugrats (1991): Lil is 2 minutes older than Phil, continued to come up in arguments in All Grown Up.
- In one episode of Kim Possible, Dr. Director's evil (fraternal) twin is four minutes older, and blames his megomaniacal ambitions on the fact she didn't defer to him as a kid.
Gemini: Four minutes, four years, the point is I am the older brother and she never respected that!
- Scooter and his sister Skeeter arguing above, over who gets filmed by a camera the kids are playing with in Muppet Babies (1984).
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold "The Malicious Mr. Mind!" Mary Marvel argues that Billy Batson is only older than her in superhero form, otherwise she's older than him by three seconds. (This must have been quite difficult on the late Mrs. Batson.)
- In The Powerpuff Girls, Blossom always takes charges and generally acts older than her sisters, Buttercup has typically the behaviour of the somewhat overlooked middle-child, and Bubbles acts like the baby of the three. In spite of the fact that there is no age-gap between them at all.
- Seven Little Monsters: One frequently asserts authority (or at least attempts to) by saying she's the oldest. Someone (usually Four) almost always snarks that she's only the oldest by a few seconds. One's typical response is, "And oh what a difference those few seconds make."
- In Tales from the Cryptkeeper, Prince Charming is No Hero to His Valet like whoa. Who is his valet? His "younger" brother, who is actually a twin but doesn't get the inheritance or status due to not being the first one to pop out. "Ten seconds! Ten lousy seconds!!" is his catchphrase, usually uttered when his bro does something Jerkass-ish (which is often.) He refuses to call him Prince Charming, as well - the prince's real name is Chuck.
- According to the Camp Lazlo episode, "Irreconcilable Dungferences", Skip is three seconds older than Chip, while Chip is three seconds smarter than Skip.
- Mabel and Dipper in Gravity Falls. She often remarks that "you'll get it when you're older" due to being older than Dipper by five minutes, according to Word of God. It often drives him nuts, since "Dipper vs. Manliness" proves that he wants to grow up and become a man because he hates being a wimpy 12-year old.
- In one episode Mabel tries this, and Dipper angrily responds that they're twins. "Girls mature faster," she says smugly, which is especially ironic in their case.
- Further Word of God (albeit of the off-the-cuff variety: "you just witnessed canon being born") has it that Ford is older than Stan by fifteen minutes and that this accounts for his superiority complex with regard to their relationship.
- Sofia the First: Amber is seven minutes older than her twin brother James. Though this is rarely brought up it does become a plot point in the final season. Enchansia does not have an Heir Club for Men. Amber is revealed to be the rightful heir to the throne. James is shocked, but makes peace with it in the course of the episode.
- According to Dragon Tales, Wheezie is the elder of the two-headed dragon Zak and Wheezie, Wheezie having poked her head out of their egg three seconds earlier.
- In Maya & Miguel, the titular characters are fraternal twins, and Miguel is the elder of the two.
- In Arthur, Tommy Tibble is two minutes older than his twin brother, Timmy. This was first brought up in the Season 15 episode, "Whistling in the Wind", and later became the plot point of the Season 18 episode, "Two Minutes".
- In the The Loud House episode, "Ties That Bind", when the twins, Lola and Lana are trying to decide who gets to use the bathroom first, it is revealed that Lana is two minutes older than Lola.
- Played for Drama in Total Drama: Amy uses her slight age difference of 17 minutes to justify being cruel and domineering to her twin sister, Sammy, claiming that she's just an inferior knockoff.
- Ruby Gloom has Frank and Len. Frank claims to be older, but they're Conjoined Twins. Although, they're not identical, so there may be some truth to what he says.
- CatDog: Cat is only five minutes older than Dog, but acts as though he's several years older than him and says it's because he's the older brother.
- In DuckTales (2017), Dewey says that he's only "about three seconds" younger than Huey. Word of God joked that Louie is so lazy that he didn't join them until 48 minutes later.
- Apparently it's more ambiguous with Donald and Della. Donald cracked the egg first, but Della successfully broke out of the egg first while Donald got stuck in the process.
- In Tiny Toons Looniversity, Babs and Buster Bunny are depicted as twin siblings rather than the unrelated couple they were in Tiny Toon Adventures. In the series premiere, "Freshman Orien-toon-tion", it is revealed that Buster is the older of the two by one second.
- An interview with the band Tokio Hotel, which includes identical twins:
Interviewer: Now I notice in the [CD] liner notes, I think Tom, you say "my younger brother"?
Tom Kaulitz: Yeah, I'm 10 minutes older!
Bill Kaulitz: Yeah, he's so proud of it! So, please. 10 minutes? Oh wow.
- Twins born close to midnight but far enough apart to be on different dates have the additional bragging rights of being born a day earlier even if that was technically minutes earlier, often leading to discussion of this trope from both the media and the parents.
- A San Diego couples daughter Jaelyn was born on New Year's Eve, in the very last minute of 2015, whilst her twin brother Luis was born in the first few minutes of New Year's Day 2016.
- In Arizona couple's first son, Sawyer, arrived on New Year's Eve at 23:50, and his twin brother Everett held on until 12:01 on New Year's Day. When asked about this trope their father speculated that Sawyer would probably tease Everett over being older.
- When the 20th century drew to a close on December 31, 2000/January 1, 2001* , several twins were reported to have been born on opposite sides of midnight. It's quite extraordinary indeed to be able to state you and your twin sibling were born in different millennia.
- And if you think this is weird, try bringing time zone changes into the mix. Because Kiribati is more than 24 hours ahead of Niue and American Samoa, it's possible for the "younger" twin to have a birth date two days before the "older" twin.
- In Japanese, there are no words directly corresponding to 'sister' and 'brother'. Instead there are separate words for 'younger brother', 'younger sister', 'older brother' and 'older sister'. These words are otouto, imouto, onii-san, and onee-san. This means twins are constantly revealing their birth order in normal conversation. Whether they squabble over it is up to the twins. Keep in mind this is far from universal.
- This also cause a lots of problems in Japanese dubs of Western (and West Asian) media when twins are involved, since the seniority and birth order is not always implied and both Japanese voice actors and translators alike had to figure out themselves, especially if the foreign licensor didn't decide on birth order ahead of time.
- Chinese has a similar system. Whenever the English text only says "sister", the translation has to use both words for "older sister" and "younger sister" mashed together, which causes additional confusion for two reasons: Since Chinese does not typically have plural forms, but using both can imply multiple sisters even if the original English is "sister" and not "sisters"; this combined term can also imply Blood Brothers and not genetic siblings. Chinese siblings also commonly refer to each other as e.g. "second brother", "third brother" based on seniority.
- This is inverted by the Yoruba people in Africa, who have the highest rate of twin births in the world. In their language, the term taiwo ("the first twin to taste the world") is given to the firstborn twin and kehinde ("the second-born of the twins") is given to the secondborn twin. According to them, before the kehinde is born, he or she sends the taiwo into the world first to determine if conditions are suitable for their own birth. Thus, the kehinde is considered to be the older twin and the taiwo the younger one, despite the taiwo having been born first.
- The Akan people, also from Africa, have a similar belief, seeing the secondborn twin as the elder one because s/he possessed the maturity to help the firstborn twin out of the womb before his/her own exit.
- Pre-modern medicine apparently considered the second twin to emerge to be the oldest, because they'd been put in there first.