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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?