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Successful Sibling Syndrome

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Lincoln overshadowed by his sisters, figuratively and literally!
"Kageyama Ritsu. His grades are at the top of his class, he's the hot, popular boy, and he's great at sports—everything his brother isn't... Man, people really aren't born equal."
Ichi Mezato, Mob Psycho 100, "Idiots Only Event"

Simply put, this is what happens when you have a famous or otherwise successful person with a sibling that feels overshadowed by his or her success.

The feelings may or may not be justified. It is possible that all siblings involved are equally popular, but one of them simply feels as if they are getting shafted. Even if they get all sorts of media attention, they could constantly complain about their perceived "more famous" relative.

And on the flip side, there may be times where this is justified because the character doesn't have the same amount of success or the army of adoring fans. They will either remain loyal to their brother or sister despite being insecure (it will help if they have a close relationship) or they may be overcome with intense jealousy and will plot to get themselves the same amount of attention, with varying degrees of success.

It could also be a simple case of a character who is expected by everyone to follow the same path as their (often, but not always older) sibling, whether they want to or not, and are under intense pressure to honor the "family legacy" as a result.

If the parents have been in a similarly successful position this is called Generation Xerox, which will only add to the character's insecurity.

This situation often causes Sibling Rivalry, and in the worst case to a Cain and Abel situation (i.e. the less successful sibling murdering the successful one).

Compare Rich Sibling, Poor Sibling, which is about reality and/or material goods, rather than feeling inferior (although they can overlap).

For more generalized examples of this see: Lesser Star, Stuck in Their Shadow, Overshadowed by Awesome. Compare "Well Done, Son" Guy, which occurs when a famous character seeks the approval of a relative, rather than a less successful person seeking attention from the general public. Also compare Stronger Sibling.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In BanG Dream!, it's revealed during Roselia's Band Story that Sayo Hikawa, the band's guitarist, feels this way toward her younger twin sister, Hina. Sayo is jealous of Hina effortlessly outdoing her at anything she tries, so she tries to discourage her from becoming interested in music at any cost, since playing the guitar is the one area in which Sayo refuses to lose to Hina. Unfortunately, Hina takes up the guitar and joins Pastel Palettes, exacerbating Sayo's issues.
  • Black Clover:
    • Noelle's insecurity regarding her poor magic control is tied to her being a member of the royal Silva family, with her siblings all high-ranking members of the Silver Eagles and her eldest brother Nozel being the captain of the squad. As a result, they mocked Noelle her entire life for being an incompetent royal. That said, she develops her magic, defeating her brother Solid in the Royal Knights Exam and is later acknowledged by her siblings as having become strong.
    • Finral grew up in the shadow of his younger half-brother Langris, who was seen as a prodigy for his powerful Spatial Magic whereas Finral couldn't use it offensively. As a result, Finral was disowned as the next head of the House of Vaude in favor of Langris. Said events caused Finral to have a low opinion of himself and tend to run away from his problems.
    • Leopold is revealed to have this. He's fully aware of Mereoleona and Fuegoleon's strength but has been compared by others to his sister's power and brother's charisma, causing him to have self-doubt. He manages to overcome this when Floga tells him to appreciate his own strength, pointing out that he has a strength that endures.
  • Parodied and exaggerated in The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. Kusuke is a 19-year-old with a genius-level IQ of 218 and is one of the richest and most powerful people in the world through his company which sells his inventions, but yet he feels inferior to his younger brother, Saiki, who has overwhelmingly powerful psychic abilities till a point it is not much of an exaggeration to call him a god if it wasn't for Power Incontinence. Kusuke keeps trying to challenge his younger brother with his inventions but always loses.
  • In High School Star Musical, Kaito is a first-year in theatre high school. His older brother, Haruto, who graduated from the school a year ago, was the school's top star and has gone on to become a successful professional actor even in such a short time. The pressure this puts on Kaito is the center of his character arc - and the focus of his "I Want" Song in Episode 4.
  • There's a bit of this in Hungry Heart: Wild Striker. Kyosuke's brother Seisuke is The Ace of the A.C Milan and a very famous player. Kyosuke originally admired and respected his brother (who taught him to play and love soccer), but people started comparing them and Kyosuke grew resentful and bitter as a result of it. There's also the fact that he accidentally discovered that he was adopted, which strained their relationship even more, but eventually they manage to reconcile over the course of the story.
  • KiraKira★Pretty Cure à la Mode:
    • Yukari admits to Rio that her drive to excel in everything is due to her older sister always being better than her. It's actually a ruse to confirm Yukari's suspicions that Rio is actually their nemesis Julio. Yukari doesn't even have a sister.
    • This is what drove Julio himself to villainy. Once the fairy Pekorio, he was never able to cook as well as his sister Kirarin, who remained prideful in her own abilities and blissfully unaware of his own frustrations. His despair drew Noir to him, who corrupted Pekorio into Julio.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Reflection, Kyrie has a Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling dynamic with her older sister, and she suffers from an inferiority complex as a result. Her traveling to Earth to find the Examia is just as much about proving herself as it is saving her father.
  • The Prince of Tennis: Yuuta Fuji, the younger brother of Shusuke Fuji, ended up leaving Seigaku to study in St. Rudolph, seeking to step out from the shadow of his more talented older brother. In a variation, he doesn't resent his brother himself, only that people constantly referred to him as "Shusuke Fuji's brother".

    Comic Books 
  • Legion of Super-Heroes: (Preboot) Cosmic Boy is a successful superhero and one of the most, if not the most, powerful of the magnetism manipulators in the DCU. His little brother Pol spent years in the Legion's academy trying to become a member and once he did was still in his brother's shadow. Eventually Pol's attempts to live up to his brother's example lead to him pulling a Heroic Sacrifice which devastates Cos, who didn't even set out to be a hero and only wanted to be able to support his family and give his little brother a better shot than he had.
  • Wonder Woman
    • DC Rebirth slowly establishes that Wonder Girl Donna Troy has an inferiority complex regarding her predecessor and adoptive older sister, Diana of Themyscira. Donna is supposed to have equivalently wonderful powers, more extensive training and superior equipment to her sister but becomes skeptical as she finds herself accomplishing much less than Diana, who seemingly outdoes Donna without trying and then has the nerve coddle Donna in public. When interacting with Diana in private or when she thinks big sister is in trouble Donna will drop her defensive front however, and during Whatever Happened To The Warrior of Truth? the sisters' mother Hippolyta has Donna unknowingly admit her insecurities to Diana, so that Diana can better help Donna.
    • Rebirth quickly establishes that Jason of the Aegean Sea/Virgina has an inferiority complex regarding his older sister, Diana of Themyscira. Jason objectively has superior demi god powers and was trained by the greatest of heroes in Hercules, who left Jason everything he owned in his will. Nonetheless Diana is a world famous celebrity while Jason is just barely known in a few locales and not particularly loved all that widely even in them. To this end Jason seeks to prove himself to the world and humble Diana, beating her up without provocation when she tracks him down and tries to make up for lost time. Jason comes to Diana's aid, however, when he realizes his "friend" Grail and her father Darkseid intend to kill his sister. From there Jason tries to make up to Diana by helping her in whatever way he can, briefly falling to depression when he becomes convinced his efforts just burden her.
  • The Umbrella Academy: Vanya Hargreeves has a rather severe case of this, considering that she was the only one of the titular Super Family Team to be unpowered, and both her siblings and father treated her like an afterthought. As a result, she carries a lot of resentment towards her siblings, which eventually culminates in her causing the apocalypse when she turns out to have powers after all.

    Fan Works 
  • Lori's insecurities in the The Loud House fic Babysitter from Heaven and its sequel are driven by a fear that the other Loud siblings will no longer need her if they learn to provide themselves with what she gives.
  • Boscha Noceda: Luz suffers from this. Despite her sister being the weird pink-skinned girl with pointy ears who is secretly a triclops, she is the one who is a bullied social reject while Boscha is a popular sports superstar at their school. Part of the reason why she still does the "chosen one" quest from canon is because, while she does greatly admire her adopted older sister, she wants to be better than Boscha at something.
  • Chloe suffers from this in the original version of Leave for Mendeleiev. Her twin sister Amber has what she wants: the respect of others and their mother's attention and regard. Granted, this is self-inflicted; Amber is a hard worker who treats others kindly and fairly, while Chloe throws around their family's money and influence to con and connive her way into getting what she wants. Chloe's lack of self-awareness on this matter leads to her accusing Amber of doing things purely to spite her.
  • Oni Ga Shiku Series: A cousin variant features Rio bemoaning the success of her cousin Yuki - or rather, how Rio's parents keep comparing the two. Yuki is an absolute legend in the hostess industry, an Older Than She Looks beauty, and has been consistently at the top of the nighttime entertainment business both as a hostess and an owner for almost thirty years. By comparison, Rio is extremely plain-looking (something that even Izuku notes and she herself admits), and also by her own admission her only special trait is her extremely bad credit score that gets her laughed out of banks. While Rio holds no ill feelings towards Yuki herself, her parents kept comparing her to Yuki her entire life, always asking her why she can't be as successful as her cousin, and it has certainly done a number to her self esteem. She even laments that Midnight's ex con boyfriend is more successful than her. This is why Rio elects to borrow money from Sky Finance (which is at first glance an extremely shady business) as opposed to asking for money from her more wealthy friends, as she wants to prove she can find success for herself for once.

    Films — Animation 
  • Frozen:
    • Growing up in the shadow of her older, seemingly-perfect sister Elsa, Anna comes to develop an inferiority complex, thinking of herself as "completely ordinary" and "not 'that' princess... it's just me." According to Word of God, this low self-esteem is exploited by Hans, and he especially plays on it during his post-reveal monologue, telling Anna that she's "no match for Elsa" and that her sister "was preferable, of course." In an earlier draft where Elsa was written as less reclusive than in the final film, the theme of Spare to the Throne was more prominent and this trope was more heavily explored. This is seen in Anna's unused song "More Than Just The Spare" and this deleted scene, which helped shape her character even if they didn't make it into the movie.:
      I'm not part of the town, not meant to be queen, just somebody hopelessly in-between
      She's the scholar, athlete, poet
      I'm the screwup... Don't I know it
      But then, who could ever compare?
      Of course they're gonna think I'm just the spare
      Well, I won't care.
    • Being the youngest of 13 brothers, it made Prince Hans of the Southern Isles feel less than them, causing him to seek a throne for himself. Whereas Anna manages to reconcile with her estranged sister at the end, Hans doesn't, making it clear to Anna in his Motive Rant that he has no intentions to do so. He ends up becoming Anna's Evil Counterpart and Shadow Archetype, showcasing what she could've been had she let her thoughts of inadequacy corrupt her mind to the point she becomes The Unfettered like him.
      • Expanded in the tie-in book A Frozen Heart, where his father, the king of the Southern Isles, felt his older sons were better than his youngest son. Hans's plan to seize control of Arendelle isn't motivated by mere greed, it's about wanting to prove himself better than his brothers. Ironically, the methods he used were unethical, and he's now in the same hellhole he wanted to escape in the first place. He even daydreamed of what it's like being heir of his kingdom. Needless to say, Hans does have serious sibling and daddy issues.
  • The Lion King:
    • Scar in The Lion King (1994) fits this. His brother Mufasa was the king and the more powerful of the two, while Scar faced never being king after Simba was born. His jealousy fueled his desire to kill Mufasa.
    • The Lion King II: Simba's Pride had it as well. Kovu was Zira’s favorite because he had been chosen by Scar to be his heir. Nuka died because he constantly felt overshadowed by Kovu and got crushed by logs trying to get Zira’s attention.
  • The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea introduces Ursula's sister Morgana as the Big Bad. As The Un-Favourite, she despises her elder sister, and her plan to take the trident isn't motivated by mere revenge. Instead, she wants to rule the ocean as proof she was better than Ursula in the first place.
  • The Loud House Movie: The movie's plot is kicked off when Lincoln feels overshadowed by his sisters, who win trophies and have their pictures taken, spurring him to try to become the Duke of Scotland to finally feel special.

    Films — Live Action 
  • Eagle Eye: Many characters in the film (including his parents and the Sinister Surveillance Master Computer) compare main character Jerry Shaw to his twin brother Ethan and keep banging on Jerry's (minor) Berserk Button of thinking of him as a dead-beat next to his over-achieving Air Force member of a brother (this comparison goes, if the info provided by the computer is right, probably as far back as them being babies). Because they keep expecting him to be a failure next to Ethan, Jerry simply decided to stop trying.
  • Averted in The Game (1997); the main character is a wealthy and arrogant businessman, but he is miserable and unstable thanks to recurring nightmares about his father dying of suicide when he was a child. In contrast, his brother (who he thinks is a deadbeat) doesn't have much, and yet is happy as a clam, and just wants to help his brother learn to be happy.
  • The main character Max in Game Night always feels inferior to his brother Brooks despite the fact that Max himself is pretty good at all sorts of games, is pretty well-off financially in his own right, and is quite happily married to his wife. However, Brooks' own displays of wealth and success — better cars, slicker social skills, job as a big-time stockbroker, etc. — combined with Max's own competitiveness has him develop something of an inferiority complex. It's even more poignant when it's revealed that much of Brooks' "success" is actually a sham, put on by Brooks as he always believed Max was the smarter brother since they were kids.
  • Lemonade Mouth: Charlie's lack of confidence in his skills stems from the success of his big brother Tommy, with Charlie thinking that he will never be able to live up to Tommy.
  • Whatever Happened To Baby Jane: Happens twice to the same sisters. When Jane and Blanche were children, Jane was the star of the family, performing in vaudeville as Baby Jane, and Blanche was overshadowed. As adults, this flips, as Blanche became a Hollywood star while Jane became a has-been, though Blanche helped secure small roles for her. This is why, in the wake of Blanche's career-ending accident, a drunk Jane is unofficially blamed for trying to run over her successful sister, and a wheelchair-bound Blanche becomes dependent on Jane. Their mutual spite and jealousy creates a toxic living situation. In truth, Blanche was the one who tried to kill Jane for mocking her. When Blanche got herself hurt in the process, she staged it so the drunken Jane would look guilty.

  • Eccentric Neighborhoods: Roque feels left out because his brothers Ulises and Aurelio are the ones making all the decisions at Star Cement.
  • Ron Weasley from Harry Potter suffers from this. His resulting inferiority complex sometimes complicates his relationship with Harry, due to the latter's status as The Chosen One.
    Ron: I'm the sixth in our family to go to Hogwarts. You could say I've got a lot to live up to. Bill and Charlie have already left — Bill was Head Boy and Charlie was captain of Quidditch. Now Percy's a prefect. Fred and George mess around a lot but they still get really good marks, and everyone thinks they're really funny. Everyone expects me to do as well as the others, but if I do, it's no big deal, because they did it first.
  • My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!:
  • Pahua Moua: Zhong comes from a family of accomplished shaman warriors, including an older sister that is a prodigy in magic. Zhong feels like she can't measure up to her sister's achievements.
  • This is revealed in Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers as one of the many sources of Rimmer's neuroses. Another is that his parents agree:
    Mrs Rimmer: My boys. My clever, clever boys. Johnny the captain, Frankie the first officer, Howie the test pilot, and Arnold... Arnold the chicken soup machine cleaner. If you could sue sperm, I'd sue the sperm that made you.
  • Stu Redman feels this way to a point in The Stand. His brother left home and by the time of the book's opening was a successful big city computer guy while Stu was still a small town blue-collar guy. Inverted a bit too, as Stu thinks that Bryce might feel a bit of shame about him as well.
  • Warrior Cats has Ivypool, who felt invisible and useless compared to Dovewing, her sister, who was getting all the attention and doing all the heroic stuff. Her insecurities over this drove her to join the Dark Forest and train with Hawkfrost, and she took chances to criticize and insult her sister in order to make herself look superior. The two sisters did make up eventually, but not after a lot of Sibling Rivalry and moral issues to overcome.
  • The Sunne in Splendour: George, Duke of Clarence, embodies this trope. His older brother Edward is a brilliant Warrior Prince, The Casanova and becomes king before he is twenty. His younger brother Richard becomes The Lancer to Edward, a brilliant warrior prince in his own right and is successful as Constable of England, a position Edward grants him at age eighteen. George, on the other hand, fails at his various bids for the crown, seethes with jealousy over his brothers' closeness as well as their successes. Eventually, he crosses Edward one too many times.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Andy Griffith Show. Otis's brother Ralph was always held in such a high standard by their mother that Otis always felt he would never amount to anything like Ralph would, especially considering Otis ended up becoming Mayberry's town drunk. Otis, however, had convinced his family that he was one of Andy's deputies, and when they come for a visit, Andy actually lets him pose as one to impress them. When Otis learns that Ralph is actually his town's drunk, he feels ashamed of his brother.
  • The Big Bang Theory: Leonard, who is an experimental physicist with a Ph.D., is the least successful person in his immediate family. His mother doesn't let him live it down, making it quite clear how disappointed she is in him.
    • Played with in relation to Sheldon's siblings. Both his brother and sister are dismissed, early in the series, as being clueless and unsuccessful. We eventually learn that his brother, George, is a highly successful business owner, but Sheldon's combination of brilliance and neediness pretty much absorbed all their mother's attention. George has long resented this family dynamic, while Sheldon didn't even notice.
  • Better Call Saul: Can be made the case for both brothers. Jimmy is jealous of Chuck for building a successful law firm and being legitimate and respected, while Chuck is jealous of Jimmy for becoming successful not by working hard like him, but by being clever and witty, and the fact that their parents always liked Jimmy more than Chuck. Ouch.
  • In the first season of Blackadder, Prince Edmund is jealous of his more successful sibling, Prince Harry, who is also the heir to the throne. This leads to Princeling Rivalry.
  • Played with in Complications, where Ingrid envies her big sister Gretchen for being able to hold down a respectable job as a nurse while she herself is in and out of rehab. She is unaware that Gretchen is neck-deep in criminal activity.
  • Even Stevens: Revealed to be the case with Louis, the youngest child in the Stevens family. His father is a prominent attorney, his mother is a high-profile State Senator, his older brother Donny is a star high school athlete, and his older sister Ren is a highly intelligent over-achiever. His crazy antics in the show are his way of establishing his own identity.
  • Robert Barone, the Unfavored in Everybody Loves Raymond.
  • Exaggerated to the point of parody with The Good Place's Tahani. By normal standards, she's an intelligent, cultured, and successful philanthropist who has raised billions of dollars for charity, but she's completely forgotten by everyone (including her own parents), who focus on her absurdly successful Parody Sue Renaissance Man sister, Kamilah. It gets to the point that a woman interviewing Tahani gets distracted by rambling about how amazing Kamilah is and forgets that Kamilah isn't an only child. As a result, Tahani is left with parental and insecurity issues. It's eventually revealed that Kamilah hates this just as much as Tahani does, despising their parents for constantly pitting the two of them against each other as an excuse to praise her and dismiss her sister out of hand.
    • Her occasional love interest Larry Hemsworth has the same problem. He is a handsome, successful paediatric surgeon who has deep insecurity due to his famous actor brothers. He laments that he "barely has an 8-pack" and Tahani has to try to convince him that fixing babies' spines is just as important as acting.
  • This is the driving plot in the series The Grinder as Stewart, who is an actual lawyer, feels bitter about being overshadowed by his brother Dean, an actor who played a lawyer on a popular long-running television show. Stewart is shocked by how often people take Dean's word over his own, despite the fact that, in Stewart's opinion, Dean's show was not in any way an accurate portrayal of lawyers.
  • An episode of Hannah Montana has Miley jealous of her grandmother's constant doting of Jackson, and later it turns out that she was trying to make him feel important because he himself is jealous of Miley's success as Hannah.
  • Downplayed in House of Anubis. Piper Williamson is a polite, intelligent, and talented musical prodigy. Patricia, her twin, is just a relatively untalented Deadpan Snarker, who has admitted jealousy of her sister's talents and also seemed worried that Piper was intentionally trying to move in on her friends and make Anubis House her house, "Just like always". It's implied that Patricia herself gets no attention in the family thanks to a throwaway line in Season 1 (where her mother accused her of making a "bid for attention" when she thought Joy was dead) and it's believed by fans that this is because of Piper being more talented. However, it then turned out that Piper herself saw Patricia as being the successful one, due to having friends and free time, and not being afraid to fail at anything. They made up, and it seems that neither feels inferior anymore.
  • In Mad About You Jamie's sister Lisa is much less successful than Jamie is and is insecure over it - all the more so because Jamie is the younger sister.
  • Don Eppes of NUMB3RS often felt overshadowed by his genius brother Charlie when they were kids, especially when Charlie (five years younger) ended up joining Don's class in school and graduated with him. Don still has some of this at the beginning of the series, though it gradually disappears as they learn to work together.
  • The Other Two is based on this trope, following the misadventures of older siblings Brooke and Carey as they grapple with their 13-year-old brother Chase's sudden superstardom.
  • This provides Arthur Shelby with a lot of angst in Peaky Blinders. He is the oldest of the Shelby siblings, but he is not the leader of the clan — that would be Tommy, who is the brains of the operation while he uses Arthur and John as, essentially, his henchmen.
    Arthur: But I'm not fucking you, am I?! Everybody knows I'm not you!
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Trojan", following on from the description of Rimmer's brothers above under Literature, we meet "Howie the test pilot", and discover that they're not that different; Howard is also a vending machine repairman who lies about how well he's doing and resents his brothers (including Rimmer) for "actually" being successful.
  • Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: George "Sam" Kirk is a successful scientist on the Starfleet flagship Enterprise and is fulfilled by his career as a xenobiologist. However, he resents his younger brother James Tiberius Kirk's exceptional career, rising in the ranks and becoming the youngest first officer in Starfleet history.
  • Much like his comic book counterpart, Viktor Hargreeves gets hit with this hard in The Umbrella Academy. The only non-super-powered child in a house dedicated to training a superhero team, he was excluded from nearly everything and had to watch as his siblings were adored by the public, while his father never even acknowledged he existednote . He carries a lot of resentment towards his siblings, which bubbles over often and eventually ends up causing the apocalypse when he turns out to have powers after all.
  • In Wonderfalls, main character Jane, who's stuck working a dead-end job in a souvenir shop, greatly envies her older sister, who is a successful lawyer.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Jeremy from Zits has this for his older brother Chad, though mostly early in the strips run. Chad, who's away at college and was only ever shown from the jaw down, was smarter, more athletic, popular, and good-looking, and Jeremy resented being compared to him immensely. It got to the point that after Chad had come home for a surprise visit, everyone in Jeremy's class wanted to know about it. This was eventually phased out.


    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: Ryan Flores is hindered quite heavily that his older sisters; Helen, Nakamura, Ann, are much more successful and reliable, leaving him to constantly be the one being saved or needing rescue whenever he gets himself into trouble. This is part of why his attempt to locate N540 for Ann comes from trying to prove himself.
  • Best Fiends has Kim the Earthworm, whose bio mentions her "more successful and similarly-named big brother" that she really dislikes being mentioned, thanks to how successful he is compared to her. All of this info points to her big brother being Earthworm Jim of all worms.
  • Bug Fables: Before the beginning of the game, Vi worked in the Bee Kingdom's honey factory while her older sister Jaune became a successful painter. Vi dreamed of becoming a professional explorer, an aspiration that Jaune mocked. This lead to the sisters having a falling out when Vi actually quit her job while mocking Jaune's paintings. They're still bitter with each other even after Vi has become famous and successful as part of Team Snakemouth, and her character quest involves her trying to make amends with her sister.
  • The player character feels this way towards their brother in Depression Quest, as he has a better job and is more successful than them.
  • Dragalia Lost: This is how Emile feels about all of his siblings. Each of them would prove to be incredibly skilled, such as Leonidas’s strength and Phares’ intelligence. All his life, he tried to be as successful as them, but no matter what he did, and no matter how hard he tried, he just couldn’t keep up. Making matters worse is that, due to his lack of talent, he has become the laughing stock of the Alberian royal family. All of this self-doubt molded him into the arrogant but pathetic individual that he’s shown to be for most of the game. Thankfully, things eventually do get better.
  • Dragon Age II has this with Carver, the protagonist's younger brother, who feels completely overshadowed by his older sibling. Regardless of Hawke's gender, class, or personality, it's implied that they have always been seen as the successful older sibling - a fact which is exacerbated by the death of their father, after which Hawke became the de facto head of the family. How the relationship plays out depends on player choices (particularly their choice of class, which can result in an early death for Carver), but Carver can eventually grow out of the resentment. Ironically, Hawke is The Chew Toy for destiny and a colossal Failure Hero, so Carver's resentment arguably comes across as misplaced in hindsight.
  • Fear & Hunger: Termina has this with Olivia and her sister, Relia. While Olivia did rather well with studying botany, Reila not only excels at her studies, she has a much stronger body and social skills. Olivia's unique soul is the "Shadowed Soul", reflecting her feeling of inferiority to her sister.
  • Downplayed in Life Is Strange 2. Sean clearly loves and supports his younger brother, Daniel. But deep down, he seems to be a little jealous that his brother has powers and he doesn't.
  • Persona 5
    • Makoto Niijima often feels inadequate compared to her older sister Sae, who's a public prosecutor; ironically, Sae herself feels inadequate and under incredible pressure to succeed.
    • During Makoto's Confidant, she meets a fellow third-year named Eiko. Eiko does poorly in school, and her parents pay more attention to her much more talented younger brother. As a result of Eiko's loneliness and distance from her family, she easily gets manipulated by Tsubasa, who pretends to love her in order to control her.
    • Wakaba's brother Youji was intensely jealous of her for being a highly successful researcher, which may explain why he abused her daughter while Futaba was in his custody. He also was so desperate to be acknowledged that he let the joy of winning the lottery go to his head, and became The Gambling Addict.
    • the Royal Updated Re Release adds a new character with one of the worst cases in all of fiction. It's so bad that the extent of it and even which character has it is a spoiler due to its effects, namely that Sumire Yoshizawa has outright deluded herself (with some help from Maruki) that she's her dead sister Kasumi and is introduced to the player as such. Kasumi was a better gymnast (by all accounts not by much... but try telling that to someone in Sumire's state of mind) and a more outgoing and social person, which fostered Sumire's inferiority complex. Kasumi's Condescending Compassion and Innocently Insensitive nature only helped her sister slide into full-blown suicidal depression, such that she obliviously wandered into traffic and Kasumi died saving her. The additional Survivor's Guilt made matters worse, to the point that when she met Maruki she told him that if she wasn't Kasumi then she should just die. Maruki was only able to stabilize her psyche and prevent her from outright killing herself by using his Actualization powers to delude her into thinking that she was Kasumi.
  • Pokémon Sword and Shield: This is Hop’s main character arc throughout the game. His older brother, Leon, is the champion of Galar, and is said to be one of the strongest trainers to ever exist, considering that he never lost a battle before (at least, until the player comes along). That is why his ultimate goal is to become a strong trainer just like his brother. Throughout the journey, Hop suffers self-esteem issues as the player continues to outclass him as well. Eventually, he realizes that, despite not being as strong as Leon and the player, he’s still a strong trainer in his own right, and eventually finds his own path to become a Pokémon professor, as he becomes Sonia’s assistant.
  • In Potion Permit, Dean feels inferior to his twin brother Derrek because the former struggles to stay motivated to exercise and take his job responsibly like the latter. In Dean's second Friendship Event, he turns in his badge and runs away crying, but Derrek comforts him by assuring him that everyone makes mistakes, even Derrek himself, and he and the Chemist successfully convince him to return to the job.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • This is one of Luigi's defining character traits. When you've got Mario, the most iconic video game character, for a brother, you are definitely going to feel overshadowed. Some games will even make mention of his insecurity and Lovable Coward personality. However, most versions of the character show the brothers as being very close despite this. If anything, Mario's success only motivates Luigi to try harder. And causing harm to Mario is a good way to make Luigi mad.
    • Super Mario RPG: Although Luigi doesn't appear in-person except during the credits, one of the star wishes the player can find on Star Hill belongs to him. In it, he wishes "to be a great plumber like my brother Mario". Of course, since Luigi isn't on hand to explain his wish, we don't know if this is code talk for his desire to be a great hero in his own right or if he's literally talking about being a great plumber. When was the last time the brothers took a real plumbing job anyway?
    • The Paper Mario series offers up a fairly unique interpretation. Unlike most versions of Luigi, who are insecure but loyal, this series' Luigi is shown to be extremely envious of Mario's fame, to the point of being an obsessive attention-seeker and kind of a jerk too, although he is still very loyal. Still, he's understandably annoyed that in Paper Mario, Mario is having an adventure with several partners and hasn't asked Luigi to come along with him. Even so, he just asks the partners to look after Mario.
    • At one point Luigi tries to assemble his own party of heroes to travel the world and save the "Waffle Kingdom". He hopes this will impress his brother and earn him fame and adoration. The player (as Mario) can meet him and he will tell tales of his glorious adventures and even has commissioned a book series about it. However, we find out that he kind of exaggerates those stories and the people he traveled with can't stand him and only came along because he owed them money.
    • In Super Paper Mario, during Luigi's stint as Mr. L, his possible jealousy comes out much more clearly, particularly when, if you're fighting as Mario, for the first Mr. L battle, Mr. L calls Mario Mr. Jumps All The Time and then says, "Just because you're in red, doesn't mean you're strong! Have at you!
    • In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, his Final Smash move, "the Negative Zone", is implied to have generated because he has lived in his brother's shadow for so long.
    • In the Mario & Luigi series, Luigi's name is often forgotten and he gets upset if he thinks he's being forgotten when he's, you know, trying to save the Mushroom Kingdom alongside Mario. A running gag is that, for much of the series, Bowser can't even remember who Luigi is.
    • In Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Luigi shows that whatever issues he might have with Mario, his love and loyalty for his brother is far greater. When you go to Dream's Deep and temporarily lose Dreamy Luigi from your party, you can see his thoughts saying things like "take me with you!" and "let me help, bro!" In a near Tearjerker moment in Dream's Deep, his dream self directly talks to Mario:
    Luigi: Big bro... it's your choice... Luigi... will follow you... We're all here for you, bro. Always.
  • The Aki sisters in Touhou are a pair of autumnal goddesses, with older sister Shizuha being the goddess of autumn leaves and younger sister Minoriko being a harvest goddess. Since Shizuha is a far more niched goddess, she consequently also has fewer worshippers than her little sister, making her envious of Minoriko and wishing that she did something more productive that the humans would appreciate. On the flip side, Minoriko is also envious of her older sister and wishes that she did something less pragmatic and more artistic, like her sister painting leaves red.
  • Yandere Simulator: Poor Kencho Saiko. He tries hard to get out of his sister Megami's shadow... but she's a Parody Sue who effortlessly outdoes him in literally every way, which has fostered a raging inferiority complex to the point where he genuinely wouldn't mind if his sister died.

    Visual Novels 
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All introduces us to Franziska von Karma. She is not upset at Phoenix for ending her father's winning streak (by proving him to be a murderer), but because he stole her chance to defeat Edgeworth. They may not be formal siblings, but they grew up together since Edgeworth was mentored by her father, and she considers him her older brother. Investigations implies that Manfred von Karma encouraged this mindset by pitting Franziska against Edgeworth, despite Franziska being 7 years Edgeworth's junior. Ironically, Franziska could be seen as more successful than Edgeworth because she was able to pass the bar exam aged 13 while Edgeworth didn't until he was an adult, but that's not how Franziska sees it.

  • Brawl in the Family: Luigi's inferiority complex against his brother is explored in "Fantasy", where it turns he can't even fantasize about himself being the hero. Luckily, he gets his chance at last come "Luigi's Holiday Vacation".
  • I Love Yoo: Subverted with brothers Kousuke and Nol. At first Kousuke seems a lot more successful than Nol, graduating early and being successful in their family business. However, it is revealed that Nol might be faking his incompetence in school, and it is shown that Nol is very good competent he starts working.
    • Played straight with Meg and Alyssa, Alyssa is a member of a famous girl group, while Meg has struggled with finding a major in college.
  • Mob Psycho 100: While Mob may have godlike psychic powers, his reluctance to use them outside of work and his subpar performance in just about everything else leave him hopelessly overshadowed by his mundane but otherwise seemingly perfect brother Ritsu, who ticks so many of the Aloof Big Brother boxes that it's easy to forget he's Mob's younger brother. There's a twist, however, in that it turns out Ritsu has a far bigger inferiority complex towards Mob, knowing the sheer scale and explosivity of his powers make anything close to a normal Sibling Rivalry impossible, if not outright deadly.

    Web Original 
  • Lampshaded in Episode 2 of the Youtube series Stupid Mario Bros. Mario and Luigi are playing a game of Wii Tennis, with Mario mocking Luigi after he loses. Luigi then storms off, while Mario yells that it's Super Mario Bros. Luigi however, says that without him there is no Super Mario Brothers. Luigi then surrenders himself to Wario (who is under orders from Bowser to bring the two back to the Mushroom Kingdom), saying he is tired of Mario always taking the glory for himself. Fortunately, Mario realizes his mistake and feels horrible, and Wario ends up letting Luigi go because Luigi wouldn't stop annoying him with his constant talking.

    Web Animation 
  • Averted in RWBY; Ruby is a fifteen-year-old prodigy student who has been accepted personally by the Headmaster of Beacon Academy two years sooner than she normally would have been accepted. At the same time, her seventeen-year-old sister Yang has also been accepted. The two ended up being on the same team to which Ruby is named the team leader. Not only does Yang not mind that she has to follow her younger sister, but she is very proud of Ruby.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Sokka is hit with this — growing up, his younger sister Katara was the only water-bender left in their whole tribe. After some training she develops into one of the most powerful benders in the world, while Sokka is The Team Normal compared to not only Katara but Aang and Toph. However, he more than proves his worth as the group's strategist, field leader, general ideas guy (and comic relief), and later takes up sword-fighting to be more useful in combat. He and Katara are also incredibly close and supportive of each other, despite their differences.
    • A much more toxic version between Zuko and Azula. Zuko was the bright and kind-hearted firstborn son of the Fire Nation Royal Family but constantly fell short of his sister Azula, a firebending prodigy, budding political mastermind, and their father's favorite. Fire Lord Ozai scorned Zuko's empathetic nature (as in burning half his face off and sending him into exile at age 13) while rewarding Azula's cruelty and ruthlessness and making her his heir. And Azula doesn't miss a chance to rub this in Zuko's face. Subverted by the show's end, when Zuko successfully ascends as Fire Lord through his own efforts, while Azula has a mental breakdown when her world falls apart around her. Meanwhile, Azula envied Zuko because he was their mother Ursa's favorite, as Ursa was somewhat concerned about Azula's growing sociopathy and often comforted Zuko when Azula bullied him. Ursa loved Azula too, but Azula interpreted this behavior as her mother thinking she was a monster and hating her while loving Zuko.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog. Eustace has always hated his older brother Horst because, as Horst was quite the successful huntsman and explorer who always brought home big game, and was apparently more loved by their parents than he was. In flashbacks, we learn that Horst's cruel nickname for Eustace was "Useless."
  • Daria: The very complicated relationship between Daria and Quinn's mother Helen and her sisters, Rita and Amy, has some shades of this from Rita's part. She has said that, since Helen was the most academically inclined of the sisters and ultimately became a successful and well-off lawyer, she and Amy were regarded as lazy and dumb in comparison. (Amy, who is implied to be Daria's favorite aunt, is much more laid back about it.)
  • Doug. Heavily implied to be the case with Chalky in one episode. Chalky is a popular, athletic, and smart over-achiever. However, when Doug discovers he was the one who cheated on an English test (he copied Doug's answers, thus making the papers exactly the same and raising suspicion from the school faculty) Chalky confesses by saying that he was under a lot of pressure. Then Chalky's dad reveals why by showing Doug a huge trophy room full of Chalky's awards. Mr. Studebaker then says that Chalky still has a "long way" to go to catch up to his older brother.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy had this with Eddy and his unnamed older brother, whom everyone in the neighborhood still either idolizes or fears, years after he left home. Eddy constantly switches between fawning over his legend and being frustrated over his inability to live up to it. The movie reveals that most, if not all, the stories about the guy are made up, and he's little more than a bullying thug who made Eddy's life a living hell.
  • This happens in Futurama when Fry learns his brother Yancy stole his seven-leaf clover and used it to succeed at everything Fry always wanted to do, like being the first person on Mars and having a successful rock band, and even went so far as to take Fry's name while doing it. Naturally Fry is utterly livid... until he learns this "brother" is actually his brother's son, who was named after Fry in his honor by Yancy who had been utterly crushed by the loss of his brother.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • Dipper Pines and Mabel Pines play with the trope because each of them feels like the other is the successful one in one way or another. Mabel desires to be smarter and wiser like her brother Dipper, while Dipper desires to better understand people and socialize like Mabel.
    • Stanford and Stanley Pines. Essentially they were Brains and Brawn, and the family doted on the brainy one (entirely because the brainy one had the chance to make them rich), leaving the brawny one to his own devices. The brawny one only got by with the help of the brainy one, so when the brainy one turned his back, the brawny one was alone and had to make his way in the world through cunning, deceit, and chicanery after the family threw him out. This is arguably rendered even more tragic, as Stan is shown throughout the series to be intelligent in his own way, having pulled off schemes such as stealing several drums of nuclear waste single-handed that could easily qualify him as a borderline Diabolical Mastermind, but none of his family ever acknowledged this or cared enough to notice in the first place.
  • Hey Arnold! has Helga G. Pataki, who is just as smart as her older sister, but not as pretty or popular with her peers or family. So she is jealous of her elder sister on two axes; meanwhile, Olga is jealous of her because Helga can be whatever she wants to be while Olga's stuck as a Stepford Smiler.
  • Rev Runner of the Loonatics Unleashed couldn't stand taller in his father's eyes after building a popular interactive toy, despite getting oodles of help from Tech Coyote. Rev's younger brother, Rip, has only his father's disdain, to the point of not bothering to try. When Rip tries on an alien psionic headpiece, it amplifies his grudge against his family, transforming him into a supervillain.
  • Oh Yeah! Cartoons: The Dan Danger short "A Lighter Shade of Danger" has Dan Danger visit his hometown for his older brother Stan's birthday. Stan is established to be a Big Brother Bully who is partially responsible for his cowardly little brother's muscular physique (he lied to Dan that there were monsters in the closet to try and scare him, but Dan built his muscles by repeatedly moving heavy objects in front of the closet door) and resents Dan for becoming a popular celebrity who overshadows his older brother in spite of his lack of bravery.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Brotherhooves Social" reveals that Big Macintosh, of all ponies, is suffering from this pretty badly. While his younger sister Applejack is one of the six main characters who saves Equestria on a regular basis, he's stuck doing simple farm work. This spurs him to try and win his youngest sister Apple Bloom's approval by disguising himself and competing in the Sisterhooves Social alongside her.
  • Phineas and Ferb. This trope is part of the issues Heinz Doofenshmirtz has with his brother — Roger is more popular and also more successful in his career (politics) than Heinz is in his (being a mad scientist and taking over the Tri-State Area). The other part is of course that their parents always preferred Roger over him.
  • A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. One episode had the kids take a case at an amusement park which was owned by the Jipner family, which has a lot of brothers and sisters. Their prime suspect is the oldest sibling, Bart, who is estranged from the rest of his family and has opened up a much less... good... "amusement park" next door that consists solely of a set of rotating tire swings. After catching the Monster Clown, they find out it is actually Joey Jipner, the sibling who served as the park's manager. He wanted to scare his siblings into giving up their shares so he could own the whole thing by himself. After his arrest, the other siblings reconcile with Bart and welcome him back into the family, even making him the park's new manager. He thanks the kids by giving them free passes to enjoy the rides as much as they want.
  • In Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, Daphne has at least four (possibly five) older sisters who all graduated college by the time they turned 13, and who have all gone on to have highly successful careers. They are shown to be a model, doctor, race car driver, and Marine respectively. Poor Daphne feels inferior and is under enormous pressure from her parents to live up to her sisters' reputation as she is in her senior year of high school. However, in the series finale, the timeline is altered and now it's the complete reverse situation. Daphne is now considered the most successful sibling by everyone and her sisters are under-achievers who are no longer successful and live in her shadow. They are the only residents of Crystal Cove whose lives were not improved by the timeline reset.
  • In The Simpsons, this is a frequent source of stress between struggling student Bart Simpson and his brilliant and talented sister Lisa Simpson, with at least one possible future exaggerating the imbalance to the point where she becomes President while he remains a failure. (In another timeline, their sister Maggie winds up outshining both of them.) In "Girl's In the Band," when Lisa is scouted by a youth philharmonic and Bart is forced to hang out in the building while she practices, he meets a whole group of similarly-afflicted kids whose siblings are in the band and counsels them on how to act out for attention.

  • Bret Hart and Owen Hart had an on-and-off feud over Owen resenting that Bret gets all the attention and championships while Owen, who believed himself the better wrestler, was stuck in the mid-card.


Video Example(s):


The Ichijouji Family

As a kid, Ken Ichijouji was always ignored while his genius older brother Sam got all the attention.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / ParentalFavoritism

Media sources: