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  • Adrian Mole: The titular character is an only child (to start with, he acquires two half-siblings later), but he feels like this with regard to "Brett Mole", the imaginary boy his parents want him to be. This is despite the fact Brett not only doesn't exist but couldn't, because his parents have entirely different ideas of what the perfect son would be like. Later, his dad's son with Doreen Slater is named Brett, and when he grows up he does indeed turn out to be more successful than Adrian.
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  • In the Age of Fire series, it's standard draconic instinct and tradition that all the males of a clutch will fight to the death, or at least until the loser(s) is/are driven off. At this point, they're cast out by their family, without even being given a name, and forced to fend for themselves. This is the case with the Copper, forming the basis for his personality and driving him to do what he does; he also decides that if he ever has hatchlings of his own, he won't enforce this tradition. To their credit, his siblings both independently come to the same conclusion, seeing the flaws in this system.
  • In Akata Witch, Sunny's father doesn't like her. Unlike her brothers, she has to struggle to have any relationship with him at all.
  • All-American Girl has Samantha Madison perceives herself to be this. She's the middle child, with her older sister Lucy being an attractive, popular cheerleader and her younger sister Rebecca being super intelligent. She notes that she was always getting hand-me-down clothes from Lucy (including bras), and that her parents do not understand her love for art and dislike for school. It isn't until she rescues the US president from an assassination attempt that her parents seem to pay positive attention to her. Ready or Not does show that both parents love their children, even choosing to cut back on their hours to spend more time with all of their daughters because they feel a better parental presence would do all of them good.
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  • The Amazing Days of Abby Hayes has Abby, who is the middle child and often feels left out for a variety of reasons: for one, each Hayes child has a particular skill- Abby's older sisters Eva and Isabel are skilled in sports and science, respectively, and their younger brother Alex is a tech/computer genius- but Abby's skill is creative writing, which doesn't have frequently visible results like trophies and awards. She's not hugely popular, she can't do maths (thus lowering her overall marks) and because she's old enough to be responsible but young enough to not be very outgoing, she isn't very loud or demanding, so she usually ends up fading into the background and is an afterthought to her parents. To be fair to said parents, they never actually abuse or alienate any of their kids, but their parenting does leave something to be desired.
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  • One of the first things we learn about Stiva in Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is that he hugely prefers his daughter to his son. For some reason this comes off as charming and honest in the original Russian, and cold and cruel in the English translation.
  • Jane Austen:
    • In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth is her father's favorite, and her mother's least favorite. Lydia is her mother's favorite, and her father's least favorite. This is a nice indicator of what each parent values. Jane is adored by pretty much everybody, Mary is almost universally ignored, but the second-youngest Bennet daughter Kitty is perpetually told to shut up and stop getting in everyone's way.
    • In Persuasion, plain, sensible, and sensitive Anne is ignored and dismissed by her family while her beautiful but vain sister Elisabeth is admired by all.
    • In Mansfield Park, Fanny's mother only cares about her sons and babies her youngest daughter, but ignores her older two daughters. Fanny only discovers this when returning for a much anticipated visit after years away from home.
    • In Sense and Sensibility, Mrs. Ferrars dotes on her daughter Fanny and younger son Robert, but doesn't seem to particularly like elder son Edward.
  • Claudia Kishi of The Baby-Sitters Club often feels like this with her parents, due to her older sister Janine being a certified genius and good at academics. However, one of the Claudia books reveals that Janine also feels like the Unfavorite because Claudia is so pretty and popular.
  • In J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood, Phury is the Unfavorite of his family. He was the second-born twin, which apparently is bad luck in his world. His twin, Zsadist, is kidnapped by a nanny as an infant and sold into slavery. Phury is not directly blamed for this, but it is inherent that his birth and its bad luck was the reason. His family falls apart, and notes that he had to drag his father's drunken body inside as dawn approached so that he would not die. It was also noted that when he left to find his brother, no one noticed his departure, and he did not attend his parents' funerals. He finally finds his twin, who is being horribly abused and tortured by an aristocrat, and helps him escape. In the process, he loses the lower half of one of his legs and uses a prosthesis. He vows that he will help his brother, which includes beating him up on several occasions at his request. He takes a vow of celibacy, and becomes a drug addict. He eventually finds peace with his parents while withdrawing from the drugs, but spends most of the series with some serious guilt.
  • The Hon. Freddie Threepwood in P. G. Wodehouse's Blandings Castle series. As the seemingly unnecessary "second son" who's constantly piling up debts and having to be hauled out of London, he's not a big hit with his father Lord Emsworth, who'd do anything to get him off his hands.
  • In Caliphate, Fudail is clearly passed over by Abdul who prefers Besma as his favorite child, despite the local inheritance laws favoring sons over daughters (not to mention Besma was born from a concubine while Fudail was born from an actual wife). Though to be fair, he has good reason for it considering Fudail is a psychotic Spoiled Brat whom his own father considers a monster, despite outwardly appearing uncaring towards him and when Besma murders Fudail in self-defense because he tried to rape her, Abdul considers him an Asshole Victim.
  • Teresa Edgerton's Celydonn: In the Green Lion Trilogy, Ceilyn. His parents were Kissing Cousins in a notoriously strait-laced segment of society, and felt that their marriage was all right only if it were platonic, so they were ashamed to have had him. Sometime after Ceilyn's birth, his father had a vision and felt that he and his wife had been absolved and blessed, so Ceilyn's younger siblings are beloved but he is seen as a reminder of shameful behavior.
  • Chalion: Downplayed, and played oddly, in the backstory of Paladin of Souls. The Castle Warder of the border fortress Porifors had a long term affair with the quasi-abandoned wife of the nominal commander (who was serving as Chancellor in the distant capital), and while he did not formally acknowledge the younger boy Illvin as his own until his lover's early death the math made it a very open secret. He took it upon himself to serve as a parent to Illvin and his older half-brother Arhys, but while parental affection for his own son came naturally there was a degree of conscious, mindful effort where Arhys was concerned... and both kids could tell. It is implied by Illvin decades later that, had Arhys not spent his adolescence packed and ready to ride out on an hour's notice when the great Chancellor dy Lutiz sent for his son, he could well have become embittered & envious half-brother so many presumed Illvin was.
  • Agatha Christie:
    • Sparkling Cyanide: Sandra Farraday. Sandra's mother explicitly says at one point that Sandra is the most difficult and least dear to her of all her children. Also from the same book, Iris Marle seems to be rather neglected compared to her beautiful, rich older sister Rosemary. Iris doesn't really seem to resent it, though.
    • They Do It With Mirrors: Mildred Gulbrandson, the biological daughter of Miss Marple's friend Carrie Louise, is the Unfavorite as compared to Carrie Louise's adopted daughter Pippa, her stepsons Alex and Stephan, and later Pippa's daughter Gina. Poor girl just can't catch a break.
      • The end of the story, when Carrie Louise turns to Mildred for support and comfort and an earlier conversation between the former and Miss Marple implies that much of this "unfavoritism" was Mildred's perception.
    • The Moving Finger, in which the local barrister's grown-up stepdaughter, Megan, is neglected by the family. They either forget about or don't know what to do with her, favouring the two younger boys who are biologically his.
  • Ebenezer Scrooge, of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol fame, is heavily implied to be this, sent away to Boarding School for years at a time by his resentful father. In some versions (at least in The Film of the Book with Alistair Sim), it's explained that Ebenezer's father blames him for his mother's Death by Childbirth. His kind-hearted and beautiful younger sister Fan is kept at home and is the apparent favorite, possibly due to an implied resemblance to her mother.
  • Tamora Pierce's Circleverse:
    • Tris. She was disowned and disposed of by her parents, who sent her to live with various relatives who used her as a live-in servant while constantly berating and bullying her. Particularly strange was that she seems to have been an only child — it was when she was moved away from her own parents that she encountered a "sibling rivalry" situation (her cousins, who got preferential treatment from their parents — Tris' aunts and uncles).
      • It's noted that at least part of the reason why this happened is that Tris's powers — which cover control over pretty much all weather — were unknown and uncontrolled at the time... which meant that they tended to synchronize with her emotions. They thought she was possessed, and it terrified them — but Tris does still think they could have handled it better. Also notable is that no one in her family is ever mentioned to have tried to make contact with Tris after she becomes known as one of the youngest and most powerful mages of her generation. (At one point in the second series, she tells her student that her family would probably like to have her back for her powers, but that'd be the only reason. She doesn't say whether or not her family attempted a reconciliation between books, though.)
    • There's also Daja, whose whole culture banished her, after she was the only survivor of a shipwreck that killed the rest of her family, due to the association of a lone survivor being bad luck. She understands the reasons behind it, but it still upsets her until they bring her back in.
  • The main plot of the first book of the Clémentine series involves Clementine being worried that she might be this after her friend Margaret tells her that in families with two children, there's the "easy one" and the "hard one". She's worried that she's the "hard one" and her parents want to get rid of her because of it.
  • Jochi in the Conqueror books is disdained by his father, Genghis Khan, due to suspicion he was conceived as a result of Borte's rape by Tartars. In Real Life, this resulted in tension between Jochi and Chagatai, which in turn was part of the reason the great khan named his third son as his successor.
  • In Gene Stratton-Porter's A Daughter of the Land, Kate. Mary is clearly the Favorite, but the other sisters also had their share.
    "I am not! But it wasn't a 'fool thing' when Mary and Nancy Ellen, and the older girls wanted to go. You even let Mary go to college two years."
    "Mary had exceptional ability," said Mrs. Bates.
    "I wonder how she convinced you of it. None of the rest of us can discover it," said Kate.
  • In The Dead And The Gone, Alex Morales is left to take care of his siblings Julie and Briana after an asteroid hits the moon. Alex very obviously favors Briana over the more whiny Julie, especially after Briana gets asthma. However, Alex learns to like Julie after Briana disappears and is soon found dead in the elevator.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid includes this but the role is split between Rodrick and Gregory, mostly because the favorite is obviously the much younger Manny.
  • Stephen King, in the Different Seasons short story The Body (on which Stand by Me, referenced above, was based) made things even worse for poor Gordie; not only are his parents so caught up in their own grief that they are almost oblivious to him, he wasn't even particularly close to his brother.
  • Subverted in Dragonlance because Raistlin Majere appears to be The Unfavorite of the universe while his twin brother Caramon is well-liked by damn near everyone he meets; really, though, people don't like Raistlin because he's a Jerk Ass.
  • Thomas Raith in Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files. In Blood Rites, it is revealed that he is Lord Raith's only surviving son, because Raith always kills his sons when they are old enough to become a threat (although he keeps his daughters around him). Thomas is still alive only because he was clever enough to avoid his father's earlier indirect attempts to get him killed.
    • It's unclear how clever he is; while Thomas is smarter than he looks, we've rarely if ever seen him accomplish anything that's really extraordinary for his kind. However, Thomas is the youngest son, so that might be why he survived as long as he did. It's also strongly hinted that the death curse of his mother weakened Lord Raith to the point where he could no longer kill Thomas in his preferred method.
  • The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things is a great insight of being The Unfavorite. The narrator is a chubby, blonde high-schooler with average grades living in a glamorous upper-class family of beautiful slim dark-haired people.
  • In East of Eden, this happens twice via Generation Xerox. Charles and Adam's father preferred Adam, which led Charles to abuse his brother. It happens again with Adam's twin boys, Cal and Aaron.
  • In Elvenblood, the noble elf maiden Sheyrena an Treves gets this from both parents to a degree. Her father Lord Tylar is openly emotionally abusive towards her and considers her brother Lorryn his prized possession because she is female. Her mother Viridina fusses over Lorryn and is borderline neglectful towards her because 'Rena is a full blooded elf, and most of her attention is focused on making sure nobody finds out the girl's (half)brother is not.
  • In The First Wives Club, Aaron clearly favors successful doctor son Alex to his other one, Chris, kicking off an epic "The Reason You Suck" Speech late in the book as Chris makes it clear that his brother "is perfect, the poor bastard, perfectly miserable" having to live up to his father's constant praise and favoritism ("Did you know when I started at the agency, people were surprised to learn you had two sons?").
    • When Aaron snaps that as soon as he leaves the firm and "my name is off the door", Chris will be fired, his son sadly points out that as long as he's there, their name will always be on the door.
  • Flowers for Algernon has a rather extreme version of this. Charlie's mother Rose preferred her daughter Norma to her son Charlie due to Norma having an average IQ compared to Charlie's very low 68. This made Norma a Spoiled Brat and left Charlie mostly confused and afraid of his mother who would beat him for perfectly natural things like having an erection as would any pubescent teen boy. Terrified he would do something to Norma, Rose eventually forced Charlie's father to have him taken away by threatening to kill Charlie if he didn't.
    • It's actually a subversion. As his memories come back, Charlie realizes that his sister was expected to achieve everything for both of them, which put her under unfair pressure to do well and caused her to bully him.
  • Common in Flowers in the Attic. Cathy is her mother's unfavorite. Corrine in turn was her mother's unfavorite. This happens again with Cathy's children in If There Be Thorns. Jory is the favorite, while Creepy Child awkward Bart gets less of her attention, especially after she adopts cute, blonde toddler Cindy.
  • Fudge: Peter gets blamed by his parents for nearly everything his little brother Fudge does. It gets especially ridiculous on one occasion when Fudge loses his two front teeth in an accident while being babysat by Peter's arch-rival Sheila, and Peter is the one who gets blamed by their mother. To her credit, she apologizes to him later, and as the series goes on, Fudge is more often punished when he does something wrong.
  • In A Frozen Heart, a Tie-In Novel to Frozen, this applies to Prince Hans. Being the 13th and youngest son, he is viewed as the Black Sheep as he was apparently considered a weakling by his eleven of his 12 older brothers. Their father, the king of the Southern Isles, saw Hans for being a failure and his ineptitude to conform to siblings who are high-achievers and better than him.
  • Gesta Danorum: King Gorm vows that he will put to death whoever should bring him the message that his son Knut is dead; when Knut is killed (though he does not make good on his vow) Gorm dies from grief, and Knut's younger brother Harald Bluetooth becomes king. Gorm's vow and his reaction to the death of Knut imply that he does not particularly care for Harald, and that he considers him an unworthy son compared to Knut.
  • A Girl Named Disaster: Nhamo's aunt and uncle treat her as a burden, give her all the hardest chores, and are more than willing to marry her off to an abusive older man as payment for her father's crimes. It's also implied that Aunt Chipo was herself the Unfavorite of Ambuya's daughters.
  • Caine Soren and Penny from the GONE series get this a lot. Caine to the point where his mother put him up for adoption because she just had a "bad hunch" about him. (Granted, he did turn out to be evil...)
    • Zil gets this on a much smaller scale when he revealed that he was neglected and ignored by his parents in favor of his older, jerkass brother Zayn. Acts as a freudianexcuse for his ur...Arson, bigotry and attempted genocide.
  • In Gone with the Wind, Scarlett's daughter Ella is her least favorite child; when Scarlett's other daughter Bonnie dies, Scarlett wonders why Ella couldn't have died instead.
  • Are you a Goosebumps protagonist with a sibling? There's a good chance you're this trope.
    • In The Cuckoo Clock of Doom, Michael's younger sister Tara is a horrible brat who makes his life hell and always tells lies to get him in trouble, but is never punished by their parents.
    • In Don't Go To Sleep, it's the youngest child Matt is treated as this by his mother, who believes his older brother and sister are wonderful siblings, completely oblivious to their bullying towards Matt. When Matt openly calls his siblings out on their torment on him, he is the one who gets chastised by his mother.
    • Amy Kramer in Night of the Living Dummy II isn't exactly treated badly by her parents, but she gets no support on what she shares in Family Sharing Night and doesn't really have anything special to share like her older sister and younger brother. On top of that, her younger brother's pranks on her is supported by even her parents, as opposed to the parents punishing him for ruining the older sister's painting. And that's even before Amy gets accused of vandalism thanks to Slappy.
    • A milder example in Egg Monsters from Mars, where Dana's parents spoil his younger sister Brandy, but don't do the same for him. To be fair, he admits that even he has trouble saying no to her sometimes.
  • In J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series:
    • Harry is constantly compared unfavorably to his cousin Dudley by his aunt and uncle; his cousin is extremely spoiled whereas he is abused and coldly neglected. This becomes one of the ways the book shows Harry growing up, as "not being liked by parental figures" becomes less important than "war between good and evil".
    • Ron feels like this, even though it's not true (his family never shows him anything but unconditional love). Specifically, he feels overshadowed by his five older brothers, and his younger sister (the last child and the only daughter; his mum supposedly wanted a girl), and by his famous best friend, whom his mum treats like another son.
    • Molly has shown some unfavorite sentiments toward Fred and George. More than once she's compared them (and Ron) unfavorably to their three older brothers. When Ron is appointed a school prefect (like Bill, Charlie, and Percy) in Order of the Phoenix, Molly squeals, "That's everyone in the family!" prompting George to quip, "What are Fred and I? Next-door neighbors?" She also apparently didn't have much faith in Ginny becoming a prefect either. Granted, Fred and George can be a handful, but even so...
    • It's implied that Tom Riddle was one of these in his youth: the woman running the orphanage was glad to see the back of him. That said, it's also implied that he was a Damien-esque nightmare, even as a child, which would certainly explain her attitude towards him.
    • Voldemort's mother, Merope, suffered from this to such an extent that it stunted the growth of her magical abilities.
    • Sirius Black is another example. His younger brother Regulus was 'the good son'. However, it's debatable whether or not Sirius took the 'unfavorite' role on himself by deliberately doing things he knew his family disapproved of, implying that he did not actually care whether or not his parents preferred him or his brother because he so deeply disapproved of their expectations and political views.
    • Aunt Petunia implies that she herself held this position in the Evans family, especially after Lily's magical abilities are discovered. It's difficult to know just how much of this perception was due to her jealousy over Lily's powers, as we only ever hear her side of the story. Lily's beauty and more magnetic personality, contrasted to her plain, boring, older, more responsible sister Petunia, might have played a role initially; when Lily's powers manifested, the combination likely caused Petunia to equate boring and normal with being better as a defense mechanism. However, when we do see them as young children, they seem to get along well; there's even subtle evidence to suggest that Lily idealized her older sister by taking Petunia's side in every conflict, even when Petunia was wrong to insult Severus Snape. In addition, Petunia never even says explicitly that the Evans parents treated Petunia differently or as second-best, just that she was upset that they loved Lily and didn't perceive Lily as a freak the way Petunia did.
    • In case there weren't enough examples already (did Rowling have issues with this?), the Dumbledore family had this in spades. Ariana, the youngest member of the family, was mentally ill and required constant care and supervision to the partial exclusion of her older brothers out of necessity. Because of this, Aberforth seemed to wind up the unfavorite of the family, being neither ill like Ariana or a prodigal genius like Albus, and remains rather bitter toward his brother even when they're both old men (although for different reasons). Strangely, Albus himself seemed to feel like the Unfavorite as a boy, since he didn't think his mother gave him the proper attention he deserved due to his brilliance, and resented having to waste his time taking care of Ariana when he had many other ripe possibilities before him. As an old man, he admitted that it was all ego and he needed to get over himself.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar books have Heralds Vanyel Ashkevron and Talia Sensdaughter, both very much the unfavorite child of their respective fathers (and in Talia's case, her father's various wives as well). Slightly subverted in Vanyel's case as he's his mother's favorite (although that mostly serves to make his brothers and cousins jealous), and he eventually reconciles with his father as well. In addition to them, Lavan "Firestorm" Chitworth was the unfavorite of his family for not wanting to go into the cloth trade like all his siblings, and Skif was the unfavorite of his Uncle Londer after his mother died and left him in Londer's care. 'Happy families' and 'Focus Character Herald' are pretty much mutually exclusive terms.
    • Even Princess Elspeth suffered from this to a degree, despite being an only child until well into her teens. She takes after her father more than a little in looks; given that said father not only manipulated her mother into a miserable marriage but eventually tried to murder her, Queen Selenay could never quite convince herself that she was capable of dealing with her daughter rationally and ended up using various nannies and other proxies beyond what the whole monarch thing required for good and ill.
  • Tom Holt has a tendency to do this.
    • The most obvious example is the protagonist Malcolm in Expecting Someone Taller. Like most of Holt's male leads, Malcolm is a total wimp, and his parents unabashedly compare him to his super-perfect sister Bridget. Becoming the heir to practically unlimited power makes Malcolm immediately think that it was originally meant for Bridget. In fact, Malcolm's lack of self-esteem and desire to do good make him the perfect person to inherit said power; Bridget would totally mess it up.
    • Another example is Kevin Christ in Only Human, who's the younger brother to Jesus and the second son of God.
  • In How Sweet It Is by Melissa Brayden, Jordan is this to her older sister, Cassie. Made worse by the fact that Cassie is dead and Jordan can't compete with the idealized memory of her.
  • Stephen Colbert's I Am America (And So Can You!) actually suggests making a conscious choice of who the favorite and unfavorite are, since it will happen anyway. On top of that, he also suggests using it as a Carrot and the Stick approach to make sure the children are well-behaved.
  • Subverted in The Infernal Devices with Nate Gray's biological parents, but with if Aunt Harriet was ever supposed to pick which one of her sister's children would become more successful, it would be Tessa.
  • In Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford series, Wexford's older daughter Sylvia, who comes off badly in his eyes (and Rendell's) even when she's been victimized. By contrast, the other daughter, Sheila, is an extremely successful actress who never does anything in the least bit wrong.
  • Jacob Have I Loved takes this to biblical proportions, as implied by the title. The protagonist is overshadowed by her twin sister from birth, first because of the latter's frail health, then because of her beauty and musical talent. The title comes in when she parallels herself to Esau, Jacob's older, less fortunate brother, and decides she must be God's UnFavorite.
  • Jessica Darling is this to her sister Bethany. It's a milder example than many, because her parents do genuinely care for her - they just can't figure out what to do with her, since unlike Bethany she isn't a girly-girl who shares her mother's interests and priorities, while at the same time not being enough of a tomboy for her father to treat like the son he never had.
  • In Sharon Lee's and Steve Miller's Liaden Universe series:
    • In Scout's Progress, Aelianna Caylon, despite being acknowledged as the foremost mathematical mind on Liad and the indirect saviour of many starship pilots, is The Unfavorite of her mother's children, and has been a target of her brother's abuse ever since they were children, when they overheard a conversation in which Aelianna was recommended to their mother over her brother as the best candidate for being her heir. Her brother was chosen instead, but has abused the position by taking out his resentment on Aelianna ever since; their mother refuses to recognize the situation.
    • One of the reasons Kareen yos'Phelium turned out so unpleasant was that she was the unfavorite, even though she was her mother's eldest child and would have been the clear heir except that she turned out to lack aptitude for the family business. Passing her over as head of the family would have been one thing by itself, but it's suggested that her mother pretty much regarded her as a waste of space and ignored all the useful aptitudes she did have.
  • The Liavek anthologies had Nerissa Benedicti, who summed her situation up thusly: "I am the last of eight children, and any week-guest in the house can discover that everybody concerned wishes there had only been six." Nerissa ends up joining a religion of suicides at the age of fourteen. (Her brother Deleon, the second Unfavorite, ran away from home on his twelfth birthday.)
  • In Celeste Ng's novel Little Fires Everywhere, Izzy is clearly Elena Richardson's least favourite child and it's partly because of this that causes her to latch onto Mia as a substitute mother figure, while Pearl, Mia's daughter, ironically ends up hanging out more and more at the Richardsons' house.
  • Roald Dahl's Matilda has parents that are completely unappreciative of her superlative brilliance. Her father cares far more about son Mikey, a total nonentity, and the mother is more interested in bingo.
  • Cosette in Les Misérables is an extreme example. After being put in the care of the Thenardier family (with her mother paying them all she can), is despised, terribly abused and forced to be the inn's servant at the age of five. In contrast, the real daughters of the Thenardier family are treated like little princesses.
    • Gavroche, the other child of the Thenardier family fits this trope too, as his mother only loved her daughters and his father didn't pay any attention to any of his children. He's so neglected that, as a baby, he's left to cry on and on with nobody paying any attention to him. He's later abandoned and lives on the streets. While on the street, he takes two younger boys who are actually his brothers that his mother gave away as infants and were (accidentally) abandoned by their adoptive mother under his wing.
  • In Teresa Frohock's Miserere: An Autumn Tale, Lindsey knows that her father is never proud of her, as opposed to her brother Peter.
  • In More Than This, Seth's mother dotes on his younger brother Owen and largely ignores Seth.
  • In their mother's eyes at least, Anna and Jesse are clearly Unfavorites in comparison to Ill Girl Kate in My Sister's Keeper. As Jesse says, he's the "lost cause", a guy that spends all his time in a filthy garage apartment doing drugs and drinking. The unfavoritism leads to him becoming an arsonist and causing his fireman father quite a lot of grief. Anna, on the other hand, was only born to donate blood to Kate, who has leukemia. It's scary how her mother seems to think of her not in terms of who she is as a person, but as the sum of the parts that could be used to help Kate. Their father, on the other hand, seems to think of all of them equally, though of course because of Kate's condition he has to put the other two in the back seat from time - especially Jesse, who started consider himself "invisible" within the family, since Kate and Anna are often the center of attention whenever Kate's condition worsens.
  • In The New Baby, a picture book that was part of a 1980s series called "Happy Endings Books", about a society of anthropomorphic mice, the main character, Tippu, is afraid of becoming this, having just become a big brother. The book ends with his parents realizing that they just haven't been giving him enough attention, and him coming to realize that he could come to like the baby.
  • No Place for Me: Protagonist Copper Jones is a dramatic example of an Unfavorite, largely due to her mother's reputation as an unstable, manipulative alcoholic. When her mother goes to rehab (again) and her stepfather has to move for work, she ends up living with a succession of three different aunts' families and getting kicked out of the first two. Her Aunt Dorothy won't spend a penny on Copper even for something as trivial as an ice cream cone, and all but forces Copper to sleep on a urine-stained quilt because it's too expensive to have the quilt cleaned (and later, when she learns that Copper tried to wash the quilt herself and ruined it, is furious). Then it's off to Aunt Judith and Uncle Raymond, who throw Copper out after their house is burglarized, fearing that the negative publicity will ruin Raymond's political career. Finally and fortunately, Aunt Maggie (her father's sister) is able to provide Copper with the love and understanding she needs and has thus far lacked.
  • Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade: Elsie Edwards is a fairly obvious Unfavorite due to her obesity, to the point where her mother won't be seen with her in public, and her misbehavior (for example, stealing her classmates' lunch money) does nothing to help it. By contrast, Elsie's younger sister Robyn can do no wrong, in their mother's eyes: in one scene, Elsie takes the blame for a mess Robyn has made and ends up hit with a broom by her mother because of it (and in front of Elsie's friends). As the series progresses, Elsie loses weight and cleans up her act, but her relationship with her mother does not improve much.
  • In the Obsidian & Blood series, Acatl became this upon deciding to be a priest for the dead instead of following his older brother Neutemoc and become a warrior. Their parents, who had been peasants, really wished for their sons to reach a higher status in society, so the younger son's decision to go off and become a priest with no wordly possessions was not popular with them. Never mind that he managed to climb the ladder and become the High Priest of his order. It becomes a major plot point in the first book.
  • Orkneyinga Saga: Of the six sons of Jarl Rognvald, Einar is the one he likes least, on account of his slave mother and his ugliness. The argument Einar uses to persuade his father to give him the jarldom of Orkney is that in this way, Rognvald will never have to see him again. This works, although Rognvald makes clear that he thinks Einar will fail and in effect tells his son that he won't care if he dies.
    "I agree; the sooner you leave and the later you return, the happier I'll be."
  • In Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler, Asha Vere is the unfavorite to her parents, strict Christian fundamentalists who don't seem to love her. Their other child, Kamaria, died in a bombing. It turns out she's adopted.
  • Prince Roger of David Weber and John Ringo's Prince Roger series is the Unfavorite due to his resemblance to his treasonous father and his complete lack of accomplishment, compared to his fleet-admiral sister and senior-diplomat brother.
  • In Princess Academy, Miri believes herself to be the unfavorite to her older sister Marda, because their father allows Marda to work in the village stone quarry, but not Miri, supposedly because she is so small and skinny for her age. Actually, this is not the reason. It is because Miri's mother died in a quarry accident, and their father loves Miri so much he can't bear the thought of her dying in the same way. He did not want Marda to work in the quarry either—he loves both his daughters—but he had no choice if the family were to survive.
  • Power: Omishto, who has a rocky, distant relationship with her mother and is outright abused by her stepfather, Herman, being physically beaten while fearing him having sexual attraction to her. Donna, her older sister, escapes all of this.
  • The Raven Cycle: In The Dream Thieves, toward the end of the book Ronan Lynch reflects on the fact that, of the three Lynch brothers, he was their father's favorite and youngest brother Matthew was their mother's favorite, leaving oldest brother Declan to be no one's favorite.
  • Jane Rizzoli in the Rizzoli & Isles books (the first two, at least). Her mother is completely oblivious to and dismissive of her job as a detective, even chastising Jane when she has to leave a family dinner is order to make an arrest, asking her "Can't they do it without you?". In another instance, despite Jane having gone all out to make sure that she has a nice birthday, she focuses on and bitches about the one thing that Jane didn't do—bake a cake. But when her brother Frankie fails to buy a gift and doesn't even show up for the party, she doesn't get angry at all and dismisses his attempts at apologizing. It's so prevalent that in another scene, Jane is downright shocked when her mother takes her side in argument with Frankie, as this has apparently never happened before. The reader soon learns the root of this—she has just discovered that her husband is having an affair and Frankie and the other brothers have taken his side, finally cluing her in to what a mistake she's made favoring the boys over Jane.
  • In Seeker Bears Toklo resents his Ill Boy brother Tobi because their mother dotes over Tobi. He also feels Tobi weighs them down and that they'd be better off without him. When Tobi dies their mother abandons Toklo in her despair due to not wanting to lose both cubs due to food shortages (especially after losing previous litters). Afterwards Toklo begins hating his mother for abandoning him.
  • Taken to new and extreme heights of Southern Gothic in Gillian Flynn's debut novel, Sharp Objects; the narrator, Camille, is her Axe-Crazy mother's Unfavorite, which is how she managed to survive to adulthood as nothing more than a self-harming, self-destructive alcoholic. Her more tractable younger sister died in childhood as the end result of their mother's Munchausen's by proxy, and her much younger half-sister is a sex-and-death-obsessed psychopath after thirteen years of the same treatment. Fun book.
  • George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Tyrion Lannister's mother died giving birth to him and he is a dwarf. No, not the fantasy kind. His father Tywin deeply resents him. Interestingly enough, however, Tywin's favorite son, Jaime, is actually the only one in the family who truly loves Tyrion and takes his side.
    • Tyrion's uncles, Kevan, Tygett and Gerion, all loved him during his childhood and, in the present story, Kevan and his aunt Genna respect him. Tywin's disdain just eclipses all this.
    • Jon Snow is treated this way by Catelyn Stark, the wife of his father Ned Stark, because Jon is Ned's illegitimate son with another woman. Ned loves and treats Jon like all of his other children and Jon loves and is loved by the rest of his family. Catelyn, on the other hand, treats him coldly. Though it was only the one time after Bran fell from a tower, Catelyn — deranged with grief and worry — tells Jon (who is also deeply grieved and worried over Bran) that this near fatal accident should have happened to him rather than to one of her own children.
    • Also, Samwell Tarly is treated like this by his father Lord Randyll, who sent him to The Wall because if Sam didn't go, his father would have arranged for Sam to be killed in a "hunting accident".
    • Theon Greyjoy, whose father Balon Greyjoy only holds disdain for his son as Theon spent the last ten years as a hostage/ward to Balon's hated enemies, the Starks. Balon ignores that the only reason his son spent ten years as a hostage/ward of the Starks was because he gave his son away as this hostage, to pay for his own crimes of rebelling against King Robert, who wanted to ensure Balon would not rebel again.
  • In Gene Stratton-Porter's The Song of the Cardinal, the she-cardinal whom he kissed.
    She had been hatched from a fifth egg to begin with; and every one knows the disadvantage of beginning life with four sturdy older birds on top of one. It was a meager egg, and a feeble baby that pipped its shell. The remainder of the family stood and took nearly all the food so that she almost starved in the nest, and she never really knew the luxury of a hearty meal until her elders had flown. That lasted only a few days; for the others went then, and their parents followed them so far afield that the poor little soul, clamouring alone in the nest, almost perished.
  • In The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries, Sookie was unfavorite in comparison to her Jerk Ass brother Jason, because of her telepathy making her too weird for their little southern town. Although their grandmother was loving, she was weirded out by Sookie's ability and only acknowledged it as a gift when it would be helpful or useful for Sookie to put it to use.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Outbound Flight features a minor character who hates his Jedi sister because, since she wasn't around to do anything less-than-perfect, he was forced to endure an entire childhood of "Why couldn't you be more like your sister? I bet she never [INSERT CHILDHOOD HIJINK HERE]."
    • Survivor's Quest has him, much older and as one of the main characters, realize that it wasn't quite like that. They did love the absent sister, and idolized their image of what she might have become, but they never neglected him.
    • By the end of Galaxy of Fear, Zak no longer feels on equal terms with his sister Tash. At the start of the series she was a Bookworm, he was the one who liked machines and action and so on. But as the series progressed and she started developing her Force talents and applying the things she picked up from studying, he felt increasingly overshadowed. Not only could she do just about anything he could do, but better, but their serious, studious uncle trusted her feelings over his, and tended to dismiss him as being childish. To their credit, Tash sympathized with Zak and their uncle respected him when he was serious, just... Tash was Force-Sensitive and increasingly able to use it. When the family stumbles so constantly into danger, that means a lot.
  • Josephine in Tim Powers' The Stress of Her Regard. She is the disturbed and unappreciated younger sister of protagonist Michael Crawford's wife Julia; their mother died giving birth to Josephine; the family says that they don't hold this against her but that Josephine holds it against herself. Josephine spent her youth coping with stress by becoming someone else; imitating a clockwork machine, or imitating her sister Julia (who charmingly made sure that people knew about this). Years after Julia's death, Crawford and Josephine are guests in someone else's home when Josephine slips into 'becoming' Julia for several days. Crawford then feels that he now knows Julia far better than he did when they were married - and doesn't like her much, and tries to help Josephine return to her own personality.
  • Many scenes in Sweet Valley High—and two specific books in particular — reveal that Jessica feels like this in comparison to twin sister Elizabeth.
  • In C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces, the king abused all three of his daughters impartially — until the youngest had to be sacrificed to the gods. Then he was explicitly abusive because he had lost her, being stuck with two unappealing daughters. Also, both Orual and her tutor the Fox heap praise on Istra while ignoring Orual's other younger sister, Redival — though, to be just, she was a very poor student and sly and treacherous.
  • Comes up a few times in the works of J. R. R. Tolkien.
    • In Return Of The King, Denethor often compares Faramir unfavorably with his deceased older brother, Boromir. There had been tension between them since childhood for several reasons. One is that Faramir and Denethor are Too Much Alike, scholarly and serious and slightly prescient, while Boromir was energetic and proud and more earthly. Another is that Faramir is very like his mother, who died when he was five, and Denethor doesn't like the reminder. By the time of the third book, grief over Boromir's death is implied to add another reason for Denethor to lash out because the loss of his favorite heightens his existing ambivalence into open contempt, particularly when Faramir acts according to his own judgment. Faramir's attitude towards all of this is rather resigned until Denethor implies he wishes his sons had been exchanged, at which point he reminds his father whose order sent Boromir away in the first place. (Despite all this, the narration points out that there was never any Sibling Rivalry between the two brothers.)
    • Denethor himself was the Unfavorite to Thorongil/Aragorn's Favorite.
      "Indeed [Denethor] was as like to [Aragorn] as to one of nearest kin, and yet was ever placed second to the stranger in the hearts of men and the esteem of his father." The Return of the King, Appendix A, J.R.R Tolkien.
    • Fingolfin, from J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion. After his half-brother Fëanor threatens to kill him then is exiled, their father Finwë chooses to accompany him into exile, relinquishing his crown, even though the text gives the reader no reason to think that Fëanor's attack on his brother was justified.
    • In all his works, Men in general. Compared to Elves, they are weaker, less wise, mortal by nature, affected by diseases and old age, easier killed and they are shorter and uglier. They have no advantages whatsoever over Elves to even it all up. To add an insult to injury, they die in all horrible ways imaginable, the Valar just could not care less of them, and Eru Ilúvatar intervenes on things only to commit a genocide on Men. Justified, since J.R.R. Tolkien was WWI veteran and saw what men could do to each other.
  • This comes up in Pierce's Tortall Universe too.
    • Dovasary Balitang from the Trickster's Duet isn't the Unfavorite to her parents, but the leaders of the hidden raka rebellion don't even notice her except as Sarai's quiet younger sister, until Sarai starts getting unruly and they wish she was more like Dove. Still, it doesn't make them consider putting Dove on the throne instead of Sarai. Not until Sarai actually elopes to get away from the increasingly oppressive rule of the Rittevons and Dove convinces them that it's not the disaster they assume it is.
    • Another Tortallan unfavorite is Beka Cooper. Her father's side of the family don't like to see her much because she's a Dognote . She and her siblings joined Lord Gershom's household, and his wife Teodorie dislikes Beka enough to forbid Beka's siblings from seeing her — Lady Teodorie loves her husband but hates his job and blames Beka for making him like it, as well as resentment that Beka isn't willing to study a ladylike trade the way her sisters do.
  • In A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Francie grows up dealing with her mother's favoritism for her brother Neelie. When he was born less than a year after her, their mother compared the beautiful cooing baby to the colicky, plain-looking little girl. She immediately knew she could never love them equally.
  • A major source of angst for Lissa in Vampire Academy, is how she was always walking in her brother's shadow.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga, Aral Vorkosigan got a bit of this from his father. His older brother had been one of the first casualties of Mad Emperor Yuri's Civil War, and his father sometimes acted as if the wrong brother had died.
  • Annotations for Warbreaker reveal that, while there were legitimate tactical reasons that King Dedelin considered when he decided to send Siri to marry the God King instead of Vivenna, he ultimately was more willing to sacrifice his youngest daughter because he didn't love her quite as much as her older sister.
  • In Warrior Cats, Crookedstar suffered a childhood injury that left him with a permanently twisted jaw, which led his mother Rainflower to reject him and prefer his brother Oakheart. Unusually for this trope, Oakheart loves his brother and wants their mother to treat them the same. Their father Shellheart averts the trope by loving both his sons equally.
  • Washington Square's main character Catherine Sloper is this to her father, in comparison to her older brother... who died several years before she was born and doesn't appear to have lived long enough to be named.
  • In The Westing Game, Grace Wexler's preference for beautiful daughter Angela is so extreme that she doesn't even recognize her younger daughter, Turtle, after a few drinks. Subverted in that being ignored is actually better for Turtle than having her life micromanaged like it is for Angela, who's so stressed by My Beloved Smother that she starts setting off bombs.
    • Grace even refers to her daughters as Cain and Abel at one point.
    • Grace: "You know, of course, that if I do win the inheritance, everything I own goes to Angela." She says this with Turtle in the room. And when Turtle rushes out, Grace is bewildered.
    • The narration explicitly refers to Angela as "her (Grace's) favorite."
  • Whateley Universe: Multiple instances:
    • From The Final Trump (Part 5): Presumably, it's Melissa speaking, not her brother Virgil, talking about their father and what happened when their sister Mara had a child, and then more children, especially children with psychic powers:
      Well, I was never the favorite anyway, so all that happened for me was that I got him off my back, nagging at me to give him grandchildren!
    • From Written in Blood (Part 1), when Bryan St. Claire is talking about his sister Paige, and his mother:
      Mom would never listen to anything that might be considered as criticism of Paige, not when Paige was her pride and joy, and especially not from me.
  • In E. D. Baker's The Wide-Awake Princess, Annie is Anti-Magic and kept far away from her sister, mother, and father, to keep from undoing the magic spells that keep them beautiful and talented.
  • Wings of Fire: The Prophecy required a SkyWing egg to work, however Burn murdered the dragonet before it could hatch. The Talons of Peace decided to try and use a RainWing egg instead. They constantly let Glory know that she's unwanted, that she's just a spare, and that's a lazy, lowly RainWing.
  • In Wintergirls, Lia's stepmother Jennifer exhibits a comparatively mild degree of unfavoritism towards her, though this is more because she's exasperated with her refusal to get help for her eating disorder (and possibly also because she's worried about what influence Lia is having on her younger daughter).
  • In A Yellow Raft In Blue Water, Christine believed herself to be the unfavorite "daughter" of her "mother" Aunt Ida compared to her son Lee. That led to Christine never having another child with anyone after she had Rayona.
  • The children's picture book, You're All My Favorites, by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram (author and illustrator of Guess How Much I Love You) is a direct refutation of this. It features three bear cubs, each of which worry about being this. The first worries that he is because his siblings have patches and he doesn't. The second worries because she is the only girl bear of the group. The final one worries because he's the littlest. Their parents, however, reassure them that none of it matters. "Three favorites. You're all my favorites!"
  • In Andre Norton's The Zero Stone, Jern was his mother's. His brother and sister were his father's, but the father dies first, and his mother cuts him off.


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