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The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry

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On the left: Daria (smart). On the right: Quinn (pretty).
Ruth: I'm her sister.
Chick: [doubtfully] Her sister? She's a blonde, good-looking kid, ain't she?
Ruth: [grimly] Yes, she's a blonde, good-looking kid.

There are two sisters, close enough in age to have a relatively equal relationship, but light years apart in personality. More often than not, they can be roughly described as follows:

  • The Beautiful Sister: An attractive, outgoing, fashionable, popular, but unintellectual character. If older, she'll be more mature sexually. Can range from smart yet Book Dumb to a Brainless Beauty. Endlessly criticizes her sister for her unyieldingly contrarian social attitude.
  • The Smart Sister: A bookish, explicitly smart character. Very often a Deadpan Snarker and The Snark Knight. Very socially awkward and subject to far less male attention, although this often has more to do with her personality than her appearance. Endlessly criticizes her sister for her willing or apparent shallowness.

While it is usually made clear that they love each other, the sisters are constant verbal combatants. Most of the time they find each other incomprehensible. Sometimes they both harbour a secret inferiority complex. After all, calling someone "The Smart Sister" implies that she isn't pretty, and vice-versa. The sisters may become love rivals, but often they prefer very different types. The smart sister is usually the more sympathetic of the two, either an explicit Creator's Pet or the character preferred by fans. This is often the result of writers themselves having been the Smart One growing up and thus often projecting their own feelings onto her, though many a reader can relate (and project too).

A special, female variant of Sibling Rivalry and Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling. If either or both sisters get on okay with people they aren't related to, but the Glorious War gets nasty, then, well, Friends Are Chosen, Family Aren't. Cain and Abel can kick in when the differences of opinion go really wrong.

Can overlap with Polar Opposite Twins and is a Sub-Trope of Sibling Yin-Yang.

See also Bratty Teenage Daughter and Tomboy and Girly Girl. For another way female family members can be at odds, see Feminine Mother, Tomboyish Daughter.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • The Ballad, Twa Sisters (also known as Two Sisters, Cruel Sister or The Bonny Swans) collected by Francis J. Child depicts the rivalry of two sisters with horrific results. The eldest, referred to as darker and "coal-black", grows jealous of the younger, "bright as is the sun" sister as she wins the favor of the man they were romantically competing for. The eldest murders the youngest, nearly getting away with it had it not been for divine intervention at the end. The eldest is usually depicted as being not as beautiful as the younger, but clever enough to almost get away with murdering her sister. That would make the eldest the smart sister, while the younger is the beautiful one.

    Comic Books 
  • The Mighty Thor: Amora the Enchantress and her younger sister Lorelei. For years Lorelei tried to best her sister in her own field of expertise (supernatural beauty and magical seduction) and always failing pretty spectacularly. In more recent times the younger sister has tried to pivot away from emulating her sister and has become something of a Classy Cat-Burglar on Earth. Though they snipe at each other over petty things, Amora has shown genuine care and concern over her little sister (at least in times of existential danger), though Lorelei's hatred of her legendary, overshadowing sibling shows no signs of fading.
  • In Patty-Cake, the title character frequently got into squabbles with her older sister Sandy.

    Fan Works 
  • Hope and Will from An Astral Drop in Heatherfield may be identical in appearance but they quickly carve out very different niches in the family — feisty, athletic Will versus the sociable and diligent Hope.
  • In A Different Dursley Family, Petunia speculates that her mother tried to invoke this by only praising her daughters when they were out of earshot and unfavorably comparing them to each other, perhaps out of the belief that it would lead to healthy competition. It didn't work, and Petunia struggles with her resentment towards Lily for years, even seeking therapy when it starts to affect the way she treats Harry.
  • In Equestria: A History Revealed, Princess Celestia is very popular and well-loved among her citizens, most likely due to her established cult of personality, while Princess Luna is seen more as the outcast and "the lanky, weird one". This leads to slight jealousy on Luna's end which eventually bubbles over to a literal all-out Civil War.
  • In Harry's New Home, although both sisters were attractive, the blonde one (Sirius' date) was bubbly, outgoing and utterly dimwitted, while the brunette (Snape's date) was quieter, more intellectual and a bit of a Deadpan Snarker.
  • In The Masks We Wear, Samantha Vanaver forces John to become a Talon by threatening to take Dick away from him and Mary. Then drugs and rapes him after he completes his training as a Talon, all to spite Mary out of jealousy because Samantha was his ex-girlfriend. Samantha is Mary's half-sister, but Mary never knew they were related.
  • Seen It a Million Times in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic. Princess Celestia is the popular one, Princess Luna the smart one (more or less; she's certainly the headstrong one), and they're both already pranksters...
  • The relationship between Flandre and Remilia Scarlet has slowly turned into this by the time A New World begins. There's still a lot of sororal love — it's just that Flandre has reached a certain plateau of Smug Super, knowing she's the strongest vampire in Gensokyo, while Remilia has largely given up on her ambitions after the deaths of Meiling and Sakuya. Flandre also resents Remilia for losing herself in her grief and entering torpor instead of staying with her.
  • Male example in A Pairing Of Souls. Shen Jiu is the smart brother able to plan for survival and to read the romantic undertones between Luo Binghe and Shen Yuan whom he berates for his naivety yet secretly envies for being more lovable than himself, while Shen Yuan is the pretty one who charms almost everyone he meets through his kindness but considers himself unimpressive in front of Shen Jiu's rightfully earned achievements. They deeply care for and are quite protective of each other, though.
  • Wicke is revealed to have this with her older sister Pia in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines. As an adult, Wicke describes her relationship with Pia as "a long, lengthy, guerrilla war of aggravation", and it didn't improve with age one bit.
  • In Discworld fic Strandpiel, by A.A. Pessimal:
    • Graduate Assassin, Ruth N'Kweze, is recalled Home by her father, an autocratic King, to take up her duties as Paramount Crown Princess. After having established her credentials as a Princess (by raising her own loyal Army and fighting a winning war), she then starts to steer the future course of the Empire. Ruth has lots of half-sisters — and half-brothers — through her father's many wives. Her sisters are jealous of the way she has risen to prominence and several ineffectual assassination attempts are mounted from her loving siblings. But unlike Ruth, most of her half-sisters were not trained by the Guild of Assassins. Several jealous sisters find out the hard way.
    • Elsewhere only daughters are born to two Grand Ducal families in what is left of the Discworld's Russia after its version of Soviet collapse. Olga Romanoff and Natasha Romanoff are cousins. If they agree on one thing, it is that as only children they were deprived of a chance to slug it out with an actual sibling. Being cousins, however, is the same thing at one level removed.
  • White Sheep (RWBY): Jaune's seven sisters (eight with adopted sister Cinder) are in a constant ongoing war with each other. Cinder still remembers the day she woke up to find her hair in pigtails (she's going to find out who was responsible eventually), Coral and Sapphire fight over Qrow (Coral wants to fuck him, Sapphire wants to kill him), and when taken to a safe house they all fight over who gets the biggest rooms (their father doesn't bother telling them they're all the same size).

    Films — Animation 
  • Mirabel and Isabela from Encanto are this for most of the film with Isabela playing The Beautiful Sister. They become closer towards the end of the film when Isabela confesses her unhappiness and lack of desire to marry Mariano and Mirabel realizes they're not so different.
  • In Frozen (2013), Elsa, though a striking beauty, is The Smart Sister who is aloof and pragmatic. Anna is The Beautiful Sister who is a Genki Girl and so desperate for romance that she accepts a proposal from a man she just met. A bit of a subversion as the sisters actually don't share much animosity towards each other and wish they were closer. Most of their conflict stems from a misunderstanding where Elsa thinks she needs to keep her distance after accidentally injuring Anna with her powers as children, and present-day Anna doesn't even know that Elsa has powers because her parents agreed to let trolls erase that part of her memory in a misguided attempt to protect her. Once Elsa's powers are out in the open again and she lets down her walls, the two get along very well despite their different personalities.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Kat and Bianca Stratford from 10 Things I Hate About You. Kat is the smart ladette and almost a Straw Feminist, while Bianca is the pretty and popular one, who only seems to think about having a boyfriend. But in the end, they can move beyond the negative parts of their respective personalities and become closer to each other.
  • Fat Girl: An overweight 13-year-old girl is jealous of her beautiful 15-year-old sister because she gets to have sex (she longs to have sex herself) and has an affair with a boy right in front of her, no less.
  • This trope forms much of Gamora and Nebula's relationship in the Guardians of the Galaxy films, at least until the end of the second (and even then, to some extent): Gamora is the beautiful, talented sister, whereas Nebula has been mutilated by her father to the point where she's more robot than human.
  • In Her Shoes plays this trope in a serious manner, as both sisters struggle with their own insecurities and with the 20 plus year death of their mother.
  • The plot of A League of Their Own centers on the growing rivalry between sisters Dottie and Kit Hinson. Scouts are unimpressed by Kit’s batting and will only allow her a tryout if the more skilled Dottie agrees to try out as well. Knowing how much Kit wants to escape their small town, Dottie agrees to try out for her sister’s sake.
  • Men with Brooms features a variation: Both sisters are The Smart Sister; one happens to be the Prodigal Daughter (went to college, joined The American Space Agency, became an astronaut) while the other is The Dutiful Daughter, who stayed home with the family and cared for their father. Also, both are romantic interests for the main character of the film, Chris Cutter.
  • In New York Minute, though the sisters are identical twins, Jane is an overachiever trying to earn a prestigious scholarship, while Roxy is laid back, habitually skips school, and dreams of becoming a rock star.
  • The Philadelphia Story and the musical version High Society has the Lord sisters: Tracy, the older, beautiful, popular socialite sister; and Caroline, the teenage, unrefined, sarcastic tomboy. A variation, as neither sister is really smarter than the other; however Tracy is acting stupidly, marrying the wrong man, while her sister knows who she should really be with.
  • The 2001 adaptation of Pretty Things based on a novel by Virginie Despentes. See the literature section.
  • RoboGeisha has the Kagusa sisters, who compete with each other to see who can become the best android Geisha assassins.
  • Save the Date (2012): Sarah and Beth care about each other, but constantly clash over their very different personalities. For her part, Sarah's more humble, laidback and quiet. Beth's far more intense, slightly arrogant and outgoing. Sarah feels unable to talk with Beth after getting pregnant, although she really needs a caring ear. Beth for her part complains that Sarah always ignores what she tells her. After learning she's about to have an abortion, Beth does speak with her and offers unconditional support no matter what. She even postpones her wedding (which she'd obsessed over) so it won't fall the same time as when Beth is due (this had been the main reason behind Beth's planning the abortion, not wanting to detract from her sister's big day).
  • Soul Food features this among the three sisters, mainly on the turbulent relationship between Maxine and Terri.
  • What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? takes this to an extreme. As children, Jane was a child star while her sister Blanche was plain and often overlooked. Blanche grew up to be beautiful and her acting talent overshadowed Jane's, but despite this, Blanche still saw Jane as a rival and felt threatened by her, to the point where she eventually tried to kill Jane.
  • This is the basis of the Disney film Wish Upon a Star, where Alexia and Hayley switch places. The differences are accentuated by using their favourite styles of music (rock and classical, respectively) in the background of their scenes.

  • Lily Allen has a song Back to the Start that's all about this trope and Lily reconciling with her sister. Lily apparently was the smart one. (Not that Lily Allen herself is unattractive, but her sister "[was] and always will be/The taller and the prettier one".)
  • Ashlee Simpson has a very intense take on this trope in Shadow, written about her difficult, envy-ridden relationship with her sister.
  • The Kinks' song "Two Sisters" contrasts a beautiful, fashionable jet-setter with her sister who's more of a dowdy housewife-mother. The latter envies the former before finally deciding she's better off.
  • In this case, six sisters (or, according to one side's opinion, only four). And it isn't pretty. Seventies/Eighties singing family The Nolan Sisters appear to have split into two separate rival factions who are mutually not at home to each other. Let us call these the Provisional and Official wings of the Nolan family, as it does appear to have got this bloody and this Irish. Relations were soured when the oldest sister made abuse allegations against her (now deceased) father that were hotly denied by the horrified rest of her family. It was pointed out that the oldest sister is bankrupt and in desperate need of the money only a shock/horror autobiography could bring in. Offered a lucrative reunion tour and recording deal, the rest of the sisterhood retaliated by cutting the oldest out of the contact. On top of this, a sixth sister who left the band just as they became famous was miffed to discover the sisters were reforming, and she had not been invited. Lawyers have been brandished and opening shots fired. Official family history has been airbrushed to make it look as if there were only ever four Nolan Sisters (Maureen, Linda, Bernadette, and Colleen). Anne and Denise Nolan are said to be just a wee fecken' bit offended that they no longer exist, and are seeking to prove their corporeal integrity, to the satisfaction of Church, State and Courts. (If nothing else, they are credited on the first few LP's and an awful lot of TV work the girls did....) Watch this space.
    • Family relations have "normalized" somewhat and something of a Good Friday Agreement has been entered into following the tragic and premature death of Bernadette Nolan. However, the youngest and most successful Sister, TV presenter Colleen, almost immediately set about getting her retaliation in first, via an autobiography serialised in the Daily Mirror. This could run on for as long as the other Troubles.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Older Than Dirt: In Mesopotamian Mythology, Inanna's Descent to the Netherworld depicts the divine sisters Ereshkigal and Inanna in this way.
  • In Pacific Mythology, Pele (the goddess of fire) and Poli'ahu (one of the four goddesses of snow and ice) are like this. Not only because they are, you know, diametrically-opposed elemental forces, but because they often competed over the same mortal men, most memorably a young ali'i (chief) by the name of Aiwohikupua. They also competed in holua sledding, which (to make a long story short) is why there are glaciers on Mauna Kea, and why Mauna Kea is dormant (which was said to be Poli'ahu's home, gifted to her by her and Pele's father.)
  • In the Book of Genesis, Leah and Rachel have this, over their shared husband, Jacob. Jacob fell in Love at First Sight with Rachel, and since he didn't have any money for a proper bride-price (having run away from home after stealing his older twin brother's inheritance), he worked unpaid for her father Laban for seven years. When the wedding day finally arrived, however, the woman under the bridal veil (presumably not see-through like those of today) was not Rachel, but her Hollywood Homely older sister, Leah...and Jacob didn't notice this until after the wedding festivities (and wedding night) were over. note  When he confronted Laban about the Bride and Switch, Laban nonchalantly replied that it's not acceptable in Padan-Aram to marry off a younger sister before an older one...and that he'll give Jacob the right girl this time, in exchange for another seven years of unpaid work. Leah becomes pregnant with Jacob's firstborn son, and Rachel becomes jealous. (Leah is overjoyed because she believes that bearing a son for Jacob will make him love her more, as well as elevate her social status in general.) They end up in a "who can have more babies" contest, even getting their servant-girls Zilpah and Bilhah involved at times when they get slammed by the Law of Inverse Fertility. Their sons become the founders of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. (And Leah's only known daughter gets...raped by a Canaanite prince.)

  • Played With in Hamilton. Angelica, the eldest Schuyler sister, is intelligent and attractive, but her younger sister Eliza is evidently more attractive to Alexander, and she is the one whom he marries. However, he clearly has affections for both (he flirts with Angelica in "Satisfied", and they have a very close relationship in "Take a Break"), and when push comes to shove after he publicly admits to adultery, Angelica sides with her sister, thus effectively ending the rivalry.
  • The Learned Ladies has smart older sister Armande and beautiful younger sister Henritte. They snit at each other constantly, in a rare example where the beautiful sister is more sympathetic and the smart one trying to bring the pretty one to her side.
  • Eponine and Cosette of Les Misérables, although they were only raised as sisters after Cosette's mother Fantine placed her in of Eponine's parents, the Thenardiers. The rivalry, however, doesn't begin after they have long since stopped "being" sisters when Cosette is introduced to Marius, Eponine's love interest. Cosette is the pretty, innocent one who eventually gets the guy while Eponine is more intelligent, snarky, and due to a bad case of Cannot Spit It Out (and Marius's obliviousness) ends up helping Marius and Cosette get together.
  • The Love of the Nightingale has Procne (the smart, maternal, wiser one) and Philomele (the beautiful naive one). However, they are instead best friends and the main drama of the play begins out of Procne's desperation to see her.
  • In Mary Mary, Mary is smart and snarky to a fault. Her prettier older sister Clara never appears, but Mary discusses growing up in her shadow:
    "You take two little girls. One of them is pink and round, with curly hair and yards of eyelashes. The other one is pale and bony, with thin, wispy hair and two little ears poking through—like the handles on a sugar bowl... When I was a kid, I mean really a kid, I never worried about the way I looked, because I thought—I knew—I'd grow up to be beautiful just like my sister Clara."
  • Aloysia and Constanza in Mozart L'Opera Rock, especially when it comes to Mozart. In "six pieds sous la terre" they trade insults back and forth (Constanze calls Aloysia a "little bitch" while Aloysia shoots back that "you blow your mind when you knit!").
  • Picnic has something of this dynamic between Madge (the pretty one) and Millie (the smart one), although Madge is a couple of years older.
  • Subverted in Proof. Catherine is portrayed as the smart sister and Claire as the pretty one, but both are actually very intelligent and attractive.
  • The Taming of the Shrew: Katerina, the older sister, is the hotheaded nonconformist who hates the idea of getting married, and her younger sister Bianca is the sweet womanly one who deeply wants a husband.
  • Wicked:
    • Elphaba and Nessarose fit this trope to a certain extent. Ostracised due to her strange appearance, Elphaba has grown up smart, independent and prickly — not to mention hugely magically talented. Nessa is pretty, somewhat shallow and her father's favourite. She misses out on the popularity she craves due to her disability and severe mental instability. She's often embarrassed by Elphie, laying anything that goes wrong at her door.
    • In terms of personality, pretty Glinda and smart Elphaba fit this even better, even though they are roommates/classmates instead of sisters.
  • Wonderful Town has Ruth Sherwood as the smart one and her sister Eileen as the pretty one. This was based on My Sister Eileen, which was Very Loosely Based on a True Story by Ruth McKenney.

    Video Games 
  • In Dota 2, Slayer Lina and Crystal Maiden Rylai are reworked into this. Lina is the smart, guile sister who is favored by their original parents, unlike Rylai who is more naive (and blonde). However, lore-wise, after separation for their mage mastery, Lina didn't make many friends with other heroes in the game, while Rylai actually befriended another hero, Ymir the Tusk.
  • League of Legends has Kayle and Morgana, twin daughters of a mortal man and angelic woman. Each wound up with half their mother's power, with Kayle having taken up their mother's law-enforcing ways, while Morgana sees far more nuance and is justifiably horrified at her sister's methods. Their conflicting views are best summed up with this exchange:
    Kayle: Why have we wings, sister, if not to fly?
    Morgana: Why do we have feet, if not to tread upon the soil?
  • In NEO: The World Ends with You, in Another Day, Shoka and Ayano, who had a sister-like relationship in the main story, are actually sisters. They don't seem to get along, and much of their bickering is over who gets to have their iguana Iggy. Unlike the main story, in which Ayano's Noise form used her ultimate attack to trap everyone besides Shoka and Rindo, Another Day's Ayano starts off the battle by trapping Shoka.
  • In The Sims 2, twins Lilith and Angela Pleasant in the Pleasantview neighborhood are pre-programmed to hate each other. Angela is the Popular One and Lilith is a Goth.
  • Nova and Vera are this in Tales of Xillia 2. Nova is the younger one and is super-upbeat, cheerful, and always on the go. Vera, the older one, is calm, professional, and regularly lectures Nova on her job. We do find out more about them as the story goes on:
    • Nova takes a moment to share some rather embarrassing details about Vera's disastrous dating life with the party and that her no-nonsense persona is really just a front she puts on for work. In reality, she is really not good with people and can't carry on a normal conversation without it turning into awkward silence, which explains why her record for being able to hold on to a boyfriend is only a month (and that this guy lost 30 lbs. trying to put up with Vera), and every time after a breakup she inevitably ends up drowning her sorrows while complaining to Nova. Oh, and apparently every morning Nova has to put up with Vera's Survival Mantra before she goes to work: that everyone is just a giant pumpkin, which is apparently her version of how to Imagine the Audience Naked.
    • Later, Vera finds out that Nova's been blabbing about her personal life, so she decides to get a little payback when she calls the party and tells this is strictly a personal call, which is really noteworthy since all her previous calls were related to the plot. She then proceeds to regale the party with the story of how when Nova was still in university, she had a big crush on a certain young man's older brother, and tried to give him a nice gift, but said older brother was out of the apartment at the moment, so the gift ended up in the hands of the younger brother while Nova bolted off, leaving him with a big mistaken impression that Nova was in love with him. Vera then closes the story by letting everyone know that for having such a big mouth, Nova sure is a big coward when it comes to matters of the heart. Ludger realizes that story was also a big Take That! against him as well.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: The game's plot pits the Voerman sisters, the cold, intellectual and business-minded Therese and charismatic, manipulative and Book Dumb Jeanette, against each other. The whole thing is made more complicated by the fact that both sisters are ancient and extremely powerful vampires with vast networks and resources to draw on.

    Visual Novels 

  • A Magical Roommate: Aylia (Bookworm) and Alassa (Beautiful) hate each other because of this. Notably, Aylia doesn't want anything to do with Alassa, who is so proud of herself that she HAS to be better than her book-crazy sister all the time; Alassa used to have Aylia wrapped around her finger until Alassa's prideful abuse broke Aylia's Cool Big Sis perspective. Unfortunately, Alassa is so utterly proud and spoiled that she won't put any real work into anything, not because she's lazy, but because it agitates her to do anything other than compete. The author specifically states that Alassa might have developed some serious talent "if she hadn't put so much work into being stupid".
  • Pacificators has an interesting case: two of the main characters, Larima and Taffe, are a pair of orphaned sisters. They usually get along reasonably well... but the entire time, there is constant tension between the two. Finally, in Chapter 42, they had a huge fight (off-screen), because Taffe was pissed that Larima almost got herself killed. note 
  • Robin and Roz DeSanto of Shortpacked! are an odd take on this with Robin being a Cloudcuckoolander Manic Pixie Dream Girl and Roz being a Depraved Bisexual Nymphomaniac cam whore.
  • In Sticky Dilly Buns, Amber and Ruby are a textbook case, apart from a moderately substantial age difference. Admittedly, Amber (the pretty one) doesn't want to fight, and sometimes tries to negotiate a truce, but she doesn't seem to have a clue how to talk to her sister, while Ruby (the smart one, a Broken Bird who blames Amber for her condition, with some logic) isn't ready to stop, and keeps finding new grounds for resentment, legitimate or dubious.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • Pleasantly averted in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Jane and Lizzie support each other and admire the other, Jane and Lydia esteem and try to correct each other, and Lizzie and Lydia are too busy being sarcastic towards each other and too certain that their way of living is the good one to be rivals.
  • Taylor and Sarah from lonelygirl15 have elements of this, although they mix and match characteristics from the types; Sarah is attractive, intelligent, emo, and a Deadpan Snarker, while Taylor is more bookish and computer savvy but also sportier.

    Western Animation 
  • 6teen has Jen as The Smart One and Courtney as The Beautiful One in "It's Always Courtney, Courtney, Courtney".
  • Surprisingly and refreshingly averted in The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan. Anne Chan is the Smart One and a Bokukko while her older sister Suzie is The Cutie and the Pretty One, but they get along quite well. In fact, a good part of the Sibling Rivalry tropes are averted in the cartoon: while the kids did have their disagreements, extended rivalries didn't really happen.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door has Abigail Lincoln, a.k.a. Numbuh Five, and her sister, Cree. This show exaggerated it since Cree is a teenager and a sworn enemy of the Kids Next Door, in which Numbuh Five is involved. Cree was once a KND operative herself, known as Numbuh 11, and the sisters got along rather well then, but when Cree got older, she was no longer allowed in the KND but escaped being decommissioned. This has also somewhat caused their personal relationship to sour as well. One scene shows them at the dinner table pretending to get along, when in fact they're secretly aiming weapons at each other under the table.
  • Alice Tompkins in The Critic has a decades-long rivalry with her Southern Belle sister, Miranda, who for the most part, is considered to be more attractive, and deliberately tries to upstage Alice every chance she gets, even at Alice's wedding. When Miranda finally admits to her sister that she's jealous of the life that she has with her job, her daughter, and her relationship with Jay, Alice takes a brief moment to rejoice.
  • Daria:
    • Daria Morgendorffer is the titular character and the smart one, her sister Quinn is the fashionable, popular one. However, Quinn is shown to be fairly intelligent in her own right (which actually scares her, fearing she'd be kicked out of her clique), and Daria is shown to be attractive when she makes an effort (which scares her, fearing it makes her as shallow as the conformist students she rails against). The sisters do begin to make peace in the final season. In the episode "Quinn the Brain", Quinn embraces a shallow sort of intellectualism because the dimmer wits wandering the school find her crappy poetry profound. Daria finds this even worse than her normal, self-imposed ditziness; she might not like Quinn's default personality but she'd rather her sister be herself than change who she is to please the masses, so Daria works to restore the status quo (even willing to give herself a temporary makeover), if only so that their relationship can remain at "rivalry" as opposed to out-and-out holy war.
    • Turns out to be Generation Xerox to some extent: their mother, Helen, has an acrimonious relationship with her older sister Rita, and to a lesser extent their younger sister Amy. Rita seems to be the pretty one, Amy the smart one, and Helen the overachiever who's become the most successful. Interestingly, each sister has their own gripes towards the other two. Despite being spoiled the most by their mother, Rita felt that Helen's achievements made Amy and herself look lazy; whereas Amy got out of doing anything for the family by shutting herself in. By comparison, Amy feels that Helen was too high strung/high maintenance (going as far to congratulate Jake for putting up with her) and resented the constant attention that Rita got from their mother which in turn led to Amy constantly withdrawing herself. Witnessing all this leads Daria and Quinn to decide that they don't want to feel that kind of resentment toward each other twenty years down the line and start working to get along with each other better.
  • Hey Arnold! has Helga, who's a tomboyish Tsundere, and Olga, who's pretty and brilliant. Of course, the rivalry is only present because of their parents showing so much favoritism towards Olga, who doesn't even want it in the first place and tells Helga that being ignored is better than being stifled and bound by said attention. The girls do generally care for each other.
  • An adult example: A Kind of Magic has Willow, a cheerful fairy, and Ferocia, an evil witch.
  • In the third season, The Legend of Korra reveals that Lin and Suyin Beifong were this. Lin was a young police officer, soon to rise rapidly through the ranks, and notably lacking when it came to navigating interpersonal relationships; Suyin was outgoing but a bratty wild child whose friends landed her in trouble. They really don't get on well when they first meet after thirty years but patch things up by the end of the show.
  • This trope appears several times in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • First off, we have Celestia and Luna, the embodiements of day and night. Older sister Celestia is the Popular One — the God Empress of Equestria who brings daylight to the land, beloved by all of her people — while the younger Luna shows traces of the Smart One (she has Psychic Powers including being a Dream Walker) and, in her opinion, isn't as well-liked, because everypony is asleep when she delivers nighttime to the world. Luna's jealousy of Celestia's popularity eventually transforms her into the monstrous Nightmare Moon, which in turn forces Celestia to banish her to the moon for a thousand years. By the end of the pilot, Luna has been healed, and the two sisters mend their relationship (though a few later episodes, and the tie-in comics, hint that they're still rivals, though to a far lesser extent). This is the central conflict in the Season 7 episode "A Royal Problem", with both sisters being upset with each other because they believe that the other has the easier job. Luna thinks Celestia has it easy basking in the love and adoration of her subjects. Celestia thinks Luna has it easy dealing with dreams instead of being a Slave to PR. It pops up again in season 9’s “Between Darkness and Dawn”, when they start arguing over differing tastes in spending their vacation.
    • Among the Mane Six, we have Rarity and Sweetie Belle. Like Celestia, Rarity is the Popular One and older of the two, a prim-and-proper pony who works as a seamstress/fashion designer and loves high society. Like Luna, Sweetie Belle is younger, and while not the polar opposite of her sister, she's far more energetic and playful, which contrasts with Rarity's posh attitude. Both Sweetie Belle-centric episodes ("Sisterhooves Social" and "For Whom the Sweetie Belle Tolls") focus on the contrast between the sisters, with Sweetie becoming particularly jealous of Rarity and either declaring that she doesn't want to be her sister or intentionally sabotaging one of Rarity's important clients. Rarity and Sweetie Belle's relationship has been expressly compared to Princess Celestia and Princess Luna's by Luna herself!
    • The trope is downplayed with Pinkie and Maud Pie. Pinkie is the younger sister and Popular One — she's quite literally the embodiment of fun and laughter, has a bright pink color, and works as a party planner and apprentice baker in Ponyville. Older sister Maud is the Smart One — she's an expert on rocks who is receiving a doctorate in the field, is dull gray, and has a single friend (a small pebble), at least until her boyfriend Mudbriar comes along. Both sisters are well aware of their severe contrast but don't try to change for one another and never ask each other to. This is perhaps best symbolized by the Pies' tradition of exchanging rock candy necklaces whenever they see each other — Pinkie loves sugar and always devours hers right away, while Maud doesn't care for sweets and keeps them in a small box. But despite their differences, they love each other dearly.
    • Finally, the trope is largely averted with Applejack and Apple Bloom. Both have pretty much the same personality — headstrong, hard-working, and compassionate — and get along extremely well. The only tension in their relationship was a single incident in "Somepony to Watch Over Me" where Applejack thought that Apple Bloom needed to be kept safe and babied her to an absurd degree.
  • In Tangled: The Series, Rapunzel's mother Arianna is a reserved and responsible queen while her aunt Willow is fun-loving and outgoing.
  • Starfire and Blackfire on Teen Titans. Starfire is the sweet, beautiful, Genki Girl, and while she has trouble adapting to life on Earth, she still works hard to protect her adopted home. Meanwhile Blackfire has had little trouble fitting in on Earth but is selfish and only out for herself.


Video Example(s):


Claudia and Mean Janine

Fun-loving, outgoing, and artistic Claudia is the Pretty sister to Janine's ruder, more plainly-styled, genius-level Smart sister.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheGloriousWarOfSisterlyRivalry

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