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Basic Trope: The middle child is favoured the least.

  • Straight: Alice and Bob have three children from the oldest: Charlie, Daniel and Ethan. Daniel gets the least attention.
  • Exaggerated:
    • Alice and Bob have seven children from the oldest: Charlie, Daniel, Ethan, Flower, Gerald, Hillary and Igor. Flower gets the least attention.
    • Same as above, except only Charlie and Igor get attention. (Igor could be a Magical Seventh Son.)
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    • Alice and Bob have many children. The one right in the middle of the birth order is neglected.
  • Downplayed: Alice and Bob have three children from the oldest: Charlie, Daniel and Ethan. They treat them with love and care; just that Charlie and Ethan get more attention than Daniel.
  • Justified:
    • As the oldest, Charlie will be taking on Bob's legacy. As the youngest, Ethan gets to be pampered and babied. Daniel is neither, so naturally, he is neglected the most.
    • Daniel is average but Charlie and Ethan have some combination of:

      A) Charlie and Ethan have learning difficulties.
      B) Charlie and Ethan are physically disabled.
      C) One of each.
      D) Some other combination that logically results in a necessity of parental attention skewed away from Daniel.

      It's not unfairness — just a fact of life.
  • Inverted: Daniel is pampered and supported the most, while Charlie and Ethan are neglected.
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  • Subverted: Daniel complains about this and the counselor confronts his parents about it. Alice and Bob claim otherwise.
  • Double Subverted: Because as far as they're concerned, they only have two children.
  • Parodied: Daniel is one minute younger than Charlie, one minute older than Ethan, or both and yet is still neglected the most.
  • Zig-Zagged: Alice and Bob have seven children from the oldest: Charlie, Daniel, Ethan, Flower, Gerald, Hillary and Igor. Charlie, Flower, and Igor get attention, while the other four are neglected.
  • Averted:
    • All three children are treated equally; that is, they are all either supported or neglected.
    • No characters have more than one sibling.
  • Enforced: The middle child is the main/viewpoint character and it's more dramatic and/or funnier if he's the fall guy.
  • Lampshaded: "Sometimes I like being the middle child. I can get away with stuff."
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  • Invoked: Daniel makes an effort not to draw attention to himself.
  • Exploited: Daniel misbehaves behind Alice and Bob's back, knowing they wouldn't care about what he is doing anyway.
  • Defied:
    • Alice and Bob both make sure to treat all of their children equally.
    • Charlie picks up on the lack of attention to Daniel after Ethan is born, and Big Brother Instinct drives him to call it out before it becomes a problem.
  • Discussed: "No, my parents don't abuse or neglect me just become I'm the second child of three! What a silly notion."
  • Conversed: "There they go again, leaving Daniel out because he's the middle child."
  • Implied: Alice and Bob are shown buying toys and candy for Charlie and Ethan, but never for Daniel.
  • Deconstructed: Daniel gets short shrift growing up, which gives him serious psychological issues later in life.
  • Reconstructed:
    • Daniel has a heart-to-heart with his parents and they make it up to him.
    • As the next generation of parents, Daniel's experiences teach him how to avoid this mentality once he becomes a father.
  • Played for Laughs: Alice tells a friend, "We're a pretty normal family of four — I mean, five."
  • Played for Drama: Daniel dies of neglect, while Alice and Bob aren't arrested because they (supposedly) didn't know he existed.

Back to Middle Child Syndrome, and... wait, where's Daniel?
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