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The Un Favourite / Live-Action TV

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Unfavourites in live-action TV.

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  • In an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun, it's revealed that Mary's sister Renata was the favorite of the Albright family:
    Mary: The minute she was born, my life changed. I mean, she was showered with attention, she was given everything, she was supported endlessly and I had to stand by and rinse out her things!
    Nina: [astonished] Wow... so you're the good sister?

  • Grant Ward from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was implied to be the unfavourite of his whole family for allegedly trying to drown his little brother Thomas, and later attempted to burn his parents' house down. His older brother, Christian, became a successful senator. It was later revealed that both Grant and Christian were the unfavourites of their parents. Thomas was the only one their mother didn't abuse, causing Christian to hate and abuse him (including throwing him down a well and blaming Grant). He also abused Grant. Ward later killed Christian and his parents as revenge.
  • Lorne in Angel. When he visits home for the first time in years, his parents say "We ate the wrong son." His cousins used their empathetic powers to hunt. Lorne used his to read people's destinies and so was considered a freak. He preferred music over hunting, even though music didn't really exist in his dimension.
  • Unfavourite pets appear from time to time on the various Animal Planet Heroes shows, when an irresponsible owner takes excellent care of one dog/cat/horse/whatever, while allowing another to starve in the yard without shelter or medical care.
  • Played for laughs with GOB of Arrested Development. Despite being the eldest son, GOB is loathed by both his parents for his often idiotic behavior, and as such is extremely jealous/admiring of his younger brother Michael, the family "favorite". Averted in that Michael hates being the favorite and GOB seems happier without any responsibility
    • Pretty much cut out by Lucille in the pilot episode:
      "If you're saying I play favorites, you're wrong. I love all my children equally!" (flashback to earlier the same day) "...I don't care for GOB."
    • And this later bit:
      Lucille: You're my third-least favorite child!
      Michael: (shrugs) ...I'm okay with that.
      The Narrator: (Later, as GOB enters the scene) And then Lucille's fourth-least favorite child showed up.
    • Even when Lindsey is revealed to be adopted Lucille mentions she still loves Lindsey as much as her other children and even more than GOB.
    • Buster seems to be a secondary unfavorite to George Sr. The fact that his twin brother, Oscar, might be Buster's real father somewhat explains it though.

  • Better Call Saul: Chuck and Jimmy's dad always liked Jimmy better. Even though Jimmy was irresponsible (and secretly stole from their father), he's much more personable than Chuck. On his deathbed, it was Jimmy that their mother called for. Chuck has clearly developed a complex about this, as evidenced in the flashback where he gets irritated by how charmed his wife is by Jimmy's jokes.
  • The Big Bang Theory has poor Leonard, George Cooper Jr, and Missy Cooper. As Leonard says:
    "If you'd like to took at the relationship between nurturing and growth, I'd like to point out that my brother is 8 inches taller than me."
    • Given the way his mother is described (and acts in her appearances on the show), it's kinda clear that she is dispassionate at best towards all of her children and her husband. Leonard, however, seems to have gotten the worst of it: his mother invited all her children to her 60th birthday, except Leonard who didn't even know she had a party. To make things worse, Leonard's friend Sheldon was invited too and she clearly likes Sheldon much more than her own son.
    • In "The Itchy Brain Simulation", Leonard reveals he was this to an aunt of his as well. When he went to college, he got an itchy sweater that made him break out. His brother got a car.
    • As for George Jr. and Missy, the way their mother has referred to them and being the most proud of Sheldon (as George told Leonard). Mary and Sheldon have made George sound like he is an irresponsible failure and disappointment when he is actually a mature, responsible and successful businessman. For Missy, Mary acts rudely, denying that Missy is separated from her husband and this leads to Missy sneaking at her mother and smiling at Penny reprimanding her.
  • Blackadder: In The Black Adder, Edmund is very much this. His father King Richard does not remember his name, or sometimes that he even exists, except when he wants to make use of him.
    King Richard: You, compared to your beloved brother Harry, is as excrement is compared to cream. So that that I have finally found a use for you, don't try to get out of it!
  • The Borgias Rodrigo Borgia heaps all of his affection on his sweet daughter Lucrezia, and his younger son Juan, completely overlooking his eldest son Cesare. While the inept and obnoxious Juan is encouraged to pursue the military career Cesare always wanted, Cesare is forced into the Priesthood against his will, and is regularly treated harshly by his father while Juan's frequent crimes and mistakes are swept under the rug. Rodrigo does eventually reconcile with Cesare somewhat, admitting that he finds Cesare so hard to love because he is a cold, ambitious Magnificent Bastard, and therefore he reminds Rodrigo too much of himself.
  • On Boy Meets World, Eric is implied to have become this in later seasons. Though it is Played for Laughs.
    • Earlier on, Cory considers himself to be this, although a lot of that is Middle Child Syndrome. Eric is actually usually established as Alan's favorite early on, which Alan is eventually forced to admit to and apologize for when he discovers this is a big part of the reason that Eric is so lazy and spoiled.
  • In Breaking Bad, Jesse sees himself as this - and it's somewhat understandable, given that his parents kick him out (twice), won't help him when he's homeless, and his dad snubs him even after he's gone through rehab and off the drugs (of course, this is all in hopes that he'll clean up his act). Compare their treatment of Jesse to that of his younger brother Jake, who Jesse imagines to be his parents' darling. Somewhat subverted in that Jake claims that all his parents ever talk about (despite him not being around) is Jesse. For the record, Jesse actually seems to want to form a relationship with his quiet, stressed out brother, and only decides not to when he realizes he's a bad influence.

  • In the Brazilian telenovela Celebrity, this was the case of Inácio, to the point it is a case of emotional/verbal abuse. Despite his attempts to reach to his mother Beatriz and cheer her up, since their parents are divorcing, Beatriz keeps rejecting him while being kind to his younger brother Fábio, though they are almost of the same age and very close, constantly comparing the two while also being overbearing and controlling. Once, Inácio brings her some chocolate and after one bite, Beatriz complains it tastes awful and tells him to take it away. When he throws it in the trash, she chews him out and tells to throw in the kitchen's trash to not attract bugs while asking if he can't do even that right and to leave her be. Other example happens (before the divorce) when Inácio explains he doesn't want to study in London and wants to remain in Brazil, only for Beatriz to insist that he is wasting his life until Fernando, her husband, tells her to let Inácio choose what to do with his life. When Fernando leaves the room annoyed at her insistence, she turns to Inácio, saying that he is the one that caused the argument.
    • Later, when Fábio dies, Beatriz blames Inácio for it, going to the point of calling him "murderer" right in Fábio's funeral. During the series, she accuses Inácio of being spoiled and wanting to be the center of attention (not realizing that this is what she is doing) and not caring for his own sorrow upon losing his brother (even when his depression is so intense that he doesn't even want to leave the house, which she deems as an attempt to get attention). When Fernando calls her out for it, she asks why she should be there for Inácio when she is the one who lost her son. Eventually, her neglect and abuse, plus his depression, renders Inácio unresponsive to the point he needs to be sent to a hospital. He gets better in the end
      • It helps that Inacio is played by Bruno Gagliasso. The guy could give such sad eyes that all you wanted to do was to give him a hug!!!
  • On Charmed, Chris seems to be not just the Unfavorite of his father (for complicated backstory reasons involving an alternate future), but of the universe in general: his brother is the Chosen One by virtue of being the first child born between a Charmed One (a trio of Chosen Ones in their own right) and a Whitelighter. Chris is...the second such child, which is apparently less impressive in terms of destiny, and winds up with a bit of inferiority complex as a result.
    • Later, when they already know he's the Kid from the Future and she's already pregnant with him:
      Piper: Damn, this was easier with your brother. The Force Field blocked about everything...
      Chris: Hey! You used a force field with him and not with me?!
      Piper: Oh, no, no, that was his, not mine.
  • Cheers:
    • Sam spends his life in the shadow of his infinitely more accomplished brother Derik, and it's stated his dad has never once given Sam any word of encouragement in his life ever, save when Sam's unknowingly been made a company softball team's ringer.
    • Rebecca is the underachieving sibling compared to her several brothers and actress sister. By the time we meet Admiral Howe in the flesh, though, Rebecca's become such an idiot it is frankly astounding she's allowed to walk about freely, and he looks like he might have a point.
    • Cliff Clavin manages to be an unfavorite despite being an only child. One episode has his mother "adopt" Woody Boyd as a second son when Cliff spurns her, and lavishes attention on him, while insulting and humiliating Cliff at every turn.
      Esther Clavin: I can love you both for different reasons. Woody, I love you because you're strong and kind and generous, and Cliff, I can love you because I'm your biological mother and nature dictates there be a bond.
  • In Coronation Street, David and Sarah Louise Platt, in comparison to Nick, their elder brother adored by Gail, are this. The worst case of this was in the 2013 story for David. Nick slept with David's wife Kylie only for her to discover she was pregnant a short time later. The rest of the family outright plotted to keep this a secret from David and never did anything more than give Nick a cross word. All this, only for the entire family to ostracise David after they learn he found out about the cheating and was behind the recent hate campaign against Nick. Nick's wife Leanne instantly forgave Nick for cheating on her, whilst the entire family treated David as some horrible monster for 'trying to kill' Nick in a traffic accident — conveniently ignoring the fact David was in the van with Nick at the time and it truly was an accident.
  • A whole episode of series 4 of The Crown (2016) is given over the Queen and Margaret Thatcher having favourite children. While the Queen is reluctant to say if she has favourites, Thatcher is confronted by her daughter Carol and admits to her face that she prefers her son Ben.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • When Hotch is giving Strauss a "Reason You Suck" Speech, he brings up the fact that she favors her son over her two daughters. The only evidence we see of it is that the picture of him on her desk is slightly in front of the girls' pictures. We never actually see her interact with them, so it may or may not be a valid analysis, but she's clearly shaken by the accusation.
    • Two-part episode "The Inspiration"/"The Inspired" features a pair of identical twins Separated (shortly after) Birth when their mother found herself unable to raise both of them. She selected which one to keep based on one telling her "I love you, Mom," the day she had to choose. She later came to regret it (the son she kept becoming a delusional Serial Killer was just the last straw) and switched favorites. Unfortunately for her, the knowledge that he was the second choice meant the adopted twin wasn't eager to play the role of the perfect child either.
    • One episode has a teen girl leading a violent and destructive gang out of belief her parents saw her as the un-favorite. When her father changes his Facebook profile picture to feature his other daughter, neglecting to even mention her, she decides it's time to drop all pretenses and come home to wreak revenge.
    • The introduction of the Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders team featured a Dutch unsub who was abused by his father, while his American step-siblings were spared, which gave him an intense hatred of Americans (particularly American fathers).

  • In Dallas, J.R. Ewing's Freudian Excuse was that Jock and Miss Ellie were constantly comparing him to Bobby and finding him wanting.
    • Gary was actually more explicitly Jock's Unfavorite due to his supposed weakness, alcoholism, and disinterest in the family business. Still, Gary was Ellie's favorite, and Bobby was Jock's, leaving J.R. to be the one son who was the favorite of nobody. And while Jock and J.R. were, at least, pretty close, at times Miss Ellie barely tolerated J.R.
  • In DCI Banks, Alan Banks is disliked by his father primarily because he became a policeman, which the father regards as joining the enemy because of the miner's strike during the Thatcher years. However, it also seems that even as a boy, nothing Alan did was good enough. Alan's younger brother was always the father's golden boy, despite becoming a venture capitalist, which should have been an anathema to the staunchly unionist father.
  • Clayton, Julia and Suzanne Sugarbaker's half-brother on Designing Women appears to be this. Conceived during an affair with their father, who briefly divorced their mother Perky and married Clayton's before returning to Perky. Although Clayton only appears once (in "Oh, Brother") it seems the three have a decent relationship, so much so that his daughters stay with the sisters during a college break.
  • Curious example on Dirty Sexy Money. In a first-season episode, matriarch Letitia says that Brian and Jeremy are their father's unfavorites; considering the fact that Jeremy is a drug-addicted layabout and that Brian isn't Tripp's biological son, this makes sense. But after learning about Brian's illegitimacy, Tripp starts liking him more, giving him a company job and calling him 'son' for the first time in the series.
  • Poor Edith from Downton Abbey. Her older sister Mary is her father's favorite, and her younger sister Sybil is clearly her mother's favorite. That leaves her as the overlooked middle child.
    • Lampshaded in series 4.
      Robert: I love all of my children equally.
      Edith: I don't know why people say that when it's hardly ever true.
  • The titular Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman seems to be this, given the condescending way her family treats her when she returns to Boston to see her ailing mother—with the exception of her mother, no one in her family shows any gratitude when her treatment saves her mother's life, instead choosing to be outraged and disgusted that she used Native American rather than traditional medicine. Even her mother is reluctant until her symptoms improve. This treatment crops up again when they come to visit her in Colorado. All because she chose to be studious and focused on being a doctor rather than etiquette lessons and finding a husband.

  • This trope showed up once on ER, as the favoured child was laying in a hospital because of something The Un Favourite was Mis-blamed for.
  • Chris from Everybody Hates Chris is treated far worse than both his younger brother and sister throughout the whole series.
  • Possibly the example most familiar to American TV viewers, Robert from Everybody Loves Raymond. With the slight reversal that Robert is actually the elder brother himself.
    Marie: [to Raymond] You can never turn your back on talent.
    [turns her back on Robert and walks out the door]
    • Robert was originally going to be cast as shorter than Ray and being forced to literally look up to his younger brother. The actor being taller took the gag from funny to hysterical.
    • It gets to the point that, when Marie tells Robert he was always the favourite, a lie used in an attempt to get Robert to conceive a child with Amy, nobody believes it. At all.

  • In Firefly there are strong implications that River was this next to her clever and hard-working brother Simon in the eyes of their parents. We see the father allowing Simon to have a "source box" to help him become a doctor while dismissing River asking for one. After she begins to get abused at the Academy, River's parents dismiss that she could be in any danger. This ironically makes Simon fall out of favour with them when he tries to save River.
  • An interesting example in Frasier: both Crane brothers considered themselves to be The Unfavorite, though in reality neither was. Though this gave birth to a destructive competitiveness between them and rendered them utterly incapable of working together for any length of time, they both concede in one episode that their competitiveness motivated them to excel academically and professionally.
    • This was specifically in their mother's eyes. To their father, they both sort of were unfavorites due to Martin having nothing in common with either of them. Both grow closer to Martin throughout the series, although Frasier (whom Martin lives with, and who is practically rugged and manly compared to Niles) probably becomes closer.
  • Friends: Monica is treated like this by her parents. Her mother Judy dotes on Ross endlessly, while giving Monica nothing but grief. Their father Jack favors Ross as well, but isn't as critical of Monica as Judy is. They explained their favoritism of Ross in one episode — they had thought Judy was barren until Ross was born, so Ross was a "medical marvel!" ...But by the time Monica was born, the "marvel" was gone. Eventually, Ross calls their dad out on their favoritism after they used Monica's childhood possessions to save Ross's during a flood, and he is honestly repentant, giving Monica his Porsche to 'start to make amends'. His behavior improves a lot, although Judy is still as disapproving of Monica as ever.
    Monica: I know they say you can't choose your parents but boy, if you could, (to Ross) I'd want yours.
  • In one episode of Full House, Stephanie starts to believe that she's this when she notices that her family is paying more attention to DJ and Michelle. She even has an Imagine Spot where she becomes the first person to land on Mars, but when she announces this to her family, they're too busy praising Michelle for blinking and DJ for getting the mail.

  • Game of Thrones:
    • Tyrion Lannister, though un-favouritism is too mild a word. When he was born, his father thought about abandoning him to die in the sea. In the present day Tywin wouldn't be unhappy if he dropped dead and actually displays disappointment when his son shows up alive after being in harm's way. Tyrion tries to take it in stride.
      Tyrion: [to Jon Snow] All dwarfs are bastards in their father's eyes [...] If I had been born a peasant, they might have left me out in the woods to die. Alas, I was born a Lannister of Casterly Rock. Things are expected of me.
      Tyrion: [to Cersei] Father will be furious... Must be odd for you, to be the disappointing child.
    • In Season 3, Cersei's father makes it clear that due to her failure to control Joffrey, he regards her as little better than Tyrion. Also note that while Tywin may not like Tyrion, he does respect Tyrion's intelligence and in this respect treats him as an equal. The same can't be said for Cersei.
    • Theon Greyjoy's father clearly does not think of him highly, instead preferring Yara.
    • Samwell Tarly is at the Wall because his father threatened to murder him if he didn't "voluntarily" remove himself from the line of inheritance. Ouch. In the books, this was after a long series of failed attempts to make him a man, including taking him to whorehouses, making him sleep in chain mail, forcing him to walk around in a dress to shame him into manliness, and bathing him in blood. Eventually, Lord Randyll's wife gave him another son, allowing why he could dispense with his girly-man firstborn. Incidentally, Randyll Tarly has achieved Memetic Badass status among the book fandom... but they didn't mean it entirely as a compliment.
    • Played straight with Jon regarding Catelyn (the wife of his father Ned Stark) because Jon is Ned's son with another womannote . Subverted in that Jon's father, siblings, and uncle all clearly love him. Also, he is the only brother Theon doesn't give a toss about, probably because Theon's not a Stark while Jon's not a legal Stark, but Ned actually acknowledges and loves Jon.
    • Weirdly enough, despite being an only child, Ramsay is still this since Roose is hopeful of having an actual legitimate son so that he can discard him. After this happens, Ramsay kills him, plus his baby half-brother and step-mother, to prevent this.
    • Cersei spoiled Joffrey and repeatedly stated that she missed Myrcella, bitter and angry that Tyrion sent her to Dorne. When the latter two died, she was heartbroken. Tommen on the other hand rarely gets much open affection from his mother, who repeatedly condescends to him and while Cersei spared him from going to the Sept, she doesn't seem too miffed that Tommen committed suicide. This probably explains why Tommen was such a pushover, he was always looking for some form of open affection and attention. Indeed, after Tommen's suicide, which Jaime is devastated by, Cersei dismisses him as a traitor for abandoning her by killing himself. Meanwhile, even after Tommen's death, Cersei is still shown being deeply affected by Myrcella and Joffrey's murders.
    • With Prince Aegon's mother's marriage to Rhaegar annulled, his status as Rhaegar's heir may have been removed.
  • Carmen in The George Lopez Show. Her mother, her father and her grandmother like her brother Max more.
    • It's not so much that they like Max more, he's just a lot easier for them to deal with compared to Carmen, as her problems were usually a lot more serious than Max's. Angie herself calls George on this in the episode "I Only Have Eyes For You" after George punishes Carmen more harshly than Max and she accuses him of liking Max better.
      Angie: No! It's just that he's easier right now. I know she's a handful, but you can't dismiss all her problems as teenage drama, you have two kids and you should be treating them equally.
    • In the later seasons it actually was the opposite. Carmen's problems were much more serious than Max's were, and he felt unloved and ignored.
  • Appeared in The Golden Girls between Dorothy and her sister. Dorothy felt that she was the Unfavourite daughter and Gloria the favourite, but Gloria later points out that Dorothy was actually the favourite, and that Sophia doted on her less because she was the strong, trustworthy one. The real Unfavourite, however, was their brother Phil, who was variously described as a cross-dresser, a moocher and generally trailer-trash. Sophia didn't like his wife or kids much, either.
    • Blanche has also suggested that she was the Unfavourite, because she became boy-crazy and a troublemaker as a teenager. It seems more likely though that she was actually at least her father's favourite, but just didn't receive the adoration her ego demanded.
  • In The Good Place Tahani turns out to have been massively in the shadow of her sister, a huge overachiever in every field of endeavour. When her sister auctions off a lunch date with herself, their parents bid $5 million for a meal they can have for free at any time. When their parents die, Tahani is stunned to find they didn't even spell her name right in their will.
    • In a "test" in season 2, Tahani meets her parents, and the talk they have makes her realize nothing she ever did was going to be good enough in their eyes and she's wasted all her time trying to win their approval.
    • In the Grand Finale they realize the error of their ways and spend their time in the afterlife making it up to her after being allowed into the Good Place.
  • Chuck Bass on Gossip Girl is a strange example, as he is an only child for two-thirds of season one. Sadly, once his step-siblings Serena and Eric move in, he still obviously takes a back seat to everyone else.
    • Also Blair, who is an only child but continually overshadowed in her mother's eyes by Serena and later even Jenny. Heartbreakingly.

  • In Hannah Montana, Miley is the unfavorite to her grandmother (her older brother Jackson got an expensive gift when Grandma visited; Miley got a spare pair of airplane headphones from the man sitting next to Grandma on the plane, complete with his earwax "since you like music so much"). When Miley confronts her about it, she explains that she's not trying to neglect Miley, she's just trying to make sure that Jackson gets his share of attention. Seeing as Miley's an international pop sensation with her father as her manager, and Jackson is just an average teenager, he's often overlooked.
  • Mohinder Suresh of Heroes is his father's Unfavourite, as compared to his Ill Girl older sister Shanti. This is due to having been conceived expressly in order to be a cure for her, but born too late; Chandra half-hated him for the failure, half-didn't want to get emotionally attached again.
    • Nathan Petrelli could also be said to be the Unfavourite of his family. Angela actually told Peter he was her favourite compared to Nathan. Especially since it's later revealed in season 3 that Nathan was the only one in the family to be born without powers and had to be given powers via a formula.
    • Although Arthur Petrelli does claim that Nathan is his favourite, but given that he previously tried to have Nathan killed, the truth of this statement is debatable.
    • And Angela's claims that Peter is her favourite are somewhat suspect given that Angela spent the whole of Season One helping Big Bad Linderman manipulate things so that Peter would become a living bomb and Nathan could eventually become President of the United States, allowing The Company the de facto ability to rule the world.
    • And also in the first season, when Angela tells Peter he's her favourite, she goes on to add that she knows it never looked that way when he was growing up, as he often ignored while his parents focused on Nathan. In "Six Months Ago", Peter also mentions having never gotten along with his father and being unsurprised that he wanted nothing to do with his graduating from nursing school. The Petrelli parents ignoring Peter while he was growing up, leaving Peter to turn to his big brother every time he needed help, seems to form the crux of the brothers' unusually close relationship.
    • Apparently this has been retconned or reverted, because Angela begins to treat him with respect in season four. It culminates in her horror when she discovers that Nathan has had his throat slashed open by Sylar. She even closes his eyes as a sign of respect for both him and for the dead. She goes so far as capturing Sylar, burning a dead shapeshifter who looks like Sylar in order to throw off suspicion, getting shapeshifter Sylar to turn into Nathan, and then having Matt Parkman alter Sylar's memories and personality to actually BECOME Nathan Petrelli. Creeeeepy. It's implied at the brief part of season five we're shown that Sylar's personality is resurfacing.
    • The Graphic Novel "Truths", it's revealed that the only reason Nathan was given powers synthetically was because Arthur felt that powers had been given to the wrong son. This mostly stems from his belief that Peter is too soft-hearted. Moments before his death though, Arthur expresses pride in the fact that both his sons are willing to do what needs to be done, so Peter may no longer qualify. At least not from his father.
  • In House of Anubis, Patricia is implied to be this. Early in the first season, when making a desperate call to her mother (while believing Joy has been killed), there was just one line that, while it never really was explored in detail, brought up some theories about her home life.
    "No, mum, this is not just another bid for attention. One of my friends could be dead!"
    • And then we met her twin sister Piper in season 2, who is nicer and more talented than Patricia, further supporting the idea. However, since her family life has never been explored, this is still not known for sure.
  • In How I Met Your Mother, Robin's father wanted a boy so badly that he treated her as a boy growing up, even naming her after himself - Robin Charles Scherbatsky, Jr. This lasted until her parents divorced and she started living with her mother and became a girly teenage pop star in Canada. And yet, she still longs for her father's approval.

  • I, Claudius has Claudius as this, his father died while he was still young and his mother prefers the older brother Germanicus. Before she commits suicide she apologises to Claudius for this but says she wished he had died instead of Germanicus. Despite this Germanicus was one of the only people nice to Claudius and when he dies Claudius says he was dearer to him then anybody else.

  • The JAG episode "Desert Son" has Lieutenant Williams, son of a retired General who received the Medal of Honor in Vietnam. It doesn't help that in addition to being overshadowed by his brother, a model Marine officer until his death, but he's also a screw-up in general who refuses to own up for his own failings.
  • In Judging Amy, one episode feature a large, loud, and boisterous family who did not know what to make of their youngest(?) child, a quiet, apparently unathletic, and introverted kid. Apparently, forcing him into dog piles and over-enthusiastic games of football constituted abuse so the family had to learn An Aesop about different personalities.

  • Though they don't mean to, Devin's parents in The Kicks visibly favor her over Bailey. They set out to change this once they realize it.
  • Kirby Buckets is generally treated much more favourably by his parents than his older sister Dawn is, which likely explains why the latter has grown into a selfish Jerkass.

  • No matter what Det. Goren from Law & Order: Criminal Intent does for his mother (including taking care of her while she's in the hospital) he still can't measure up to his brother, a homeless drug addict with an illegitimate son. Either way, Goren gets no respect.
    • Even more so, it's implied, from the father than the mother (who at least once in a while, when she's more or less in her right mind, will say something nice to him). This is thrown into some context when we learn that the mother actually had an affair, and neither parent was entirely sure whose son he really was.
    • One episode portrayed a wealthy family patriarch (played by Rip Torn) who had two sons, one favorite (a talented, handsome, successful historian), the other unfavorite (a businessman with constantly-failing schemes). Each one married a woman the opposite of him — the responsible one married a screwed-up mess of a woman, while the unfavorite's wife is very dutiful and responsible; the patriarch also has favorites among these two, preferring the latter to the former. Both brothers are murdered over the payout from their trust funds. Ironically, the favorite daughter-in-law planned and executed the murders: she set it up as a "Strangers on a Train"-Plot Murder, in which each woman would kill the other's husband. The "screwup" was originally in on the plan, but she chickened out, and the "responsible" one actually killed her own husband, as well. The ending implies that the patriarch has already picked his favorite and unfavorite grandsons.
      Torn: My dead.
      Goren: Two sons. You had...two sons.
    • He and Eames then see the man hugging one grandson, ignoring the other and realize the entire sad cycle is just going to continue.
    • An earlier episode featured a murderer who had grown up as the unfavorite compared to her dead older brother, for whom she was a Replacement Goldfish who could never live up to the impossible standards supposedly set by the original. Her turn to crime was motivated by her desire to curry favor with her parents at any cost, even if she had to resort to fraud and murder. When she's arrested, she rails on her parents over their favoring her brother, even trying to cut at a portrait of him they have hanging on the wall...and her parents are more upset over the portrait being damaged than their daughter arrested for murder.
  • An episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit had the detectives visit a doctor who has a huge portrait of him, his wife, and his two daughters, a doctor and a lawyer, in his office. Later, they discovered the doctor also has a son... who was working as his janitor. Three guesses who turns out to be the violent rapist they're searching for.
    • Not to mention the woman who murdered mothers as a nurse in order to "free their daughters" of the pain of caring for them. Particularly depressing at the end when she is seen watching old films of her mother playing cheerfully with her brother while she plays alone in the background.
    • Another episode of SVU first focused on a Latina girl whom might have been raped by a rich, white, politician's son. At first, the detectives look to charge the son, meanwhile we learn about a Latino boy who was best friends with the rich boy, and his mother whom used to be the house servant for the rich political boy's family before she suddenly quit her job. Her son was in love with the same girl as the rich boy, but the rich boy (whom we find out was a jerkass) got her drunk and took her virginity. Later the rich boy is suddenly murdered and found in a ditch. After many dead ends, the detectives start believing that the mother's son might have done it. They were right, but the reason why, wasn't solely because of the girl alone. The boy found out he was the rich boy's half-brother from an affair the father had with his mother. This was the reason the mother suddenly quit her job. She was also paid not to talk about the affair and cause a scandal. The last scene shows the Latino boy pleading to his political white father, asking why he got rejected and not accepted like his half-brother.
    • Amanda Rollins clearly is the unfavourite of her mother despite the fact that her sister, Kim, just happens to be in jail for robbery, assault and drugging a guy that caused him to rape a woman. And yet, Amanda is the one Beth Anne chews out for not being a good daughter.
  • On The League, Taco is a pot-smoking moron who has no job, no girlfriend, no goal for anything in life...and his mom considers him far more successful than brother Kevin, a happily married lawyer.
  • Legend of the Seeker: The series gives Zedd a younger brother, Thaddicus, like this. It's mostly because he can't do magic, unlike Zedd, as their father was also a great wizard. Their mother doted on Zedd too though-Thaddicus is also resentful of the fact that while on her deathbed, it's Zedd she kept asking to see, even though he was caring for her at the time. He spitefully claims to have given away their most treasured possession in revenge, however Thaddicus then relents after Zedd tells him how important it is. Slowly their relationship improves over the course of the series.
  • Poor, poor Purple Parrots. Legends of the Hidden Temple seemed to put the shortest, slowest players on Purple Parrots, to the point where, in challenge wins, they are dead last.
  • Leverage: In "The Snow Job", despite being the one that practically runs the crooked business, his father clearly favours the older, fun-loving airhead son. It comes back to bite him when it's the "golden son" who ends up making the move that gets them all arrested.
  • An episode of Lois & Clark featured the mother of a deceased criminal known as "Bad Brain Johnson". To try and get her attention, her Un Favorite second son built a fully functional mind control machine, to offer her the whole world as a gift. Not only was he met with equal disdain as usual, but not even the machine at full power could force her to tell her son she loved him.

  • A Played for Drama example from Mad Men. Justified in-universe in that Don was the bastard son of a whore being raised by his father's widow and family.
  • Impressively averted in Malcolm in the Middle, where despite Reese being a delinquent, stupid, slacking D-student who causes more trouble than all his siblings combined (which is saying something), Lois doesn't treat him any worse than she treats Malcolm, the family prodigy. In fact, when a Sadist Teacher tries to blackmail her by claiming she's never risk Malcolm's reputation to save Reese's, rather than dismiss Reese for being a failure, she claims she would throw Malcolm under the bus for Reese in a heartbeat — because Malcolm can always take care of himself, while Reese needs to be protected. The sadist teacher's skepticism is destroyed when Lois' firstborn Francis suddenly shows up and begs her to be let back in.
    • However in the episode 'Hal sleepwalks' Hal in sleepwalking state does admit that he prefers Reese over Malcolm because Malcolm "is creepy" and Reese is "normal, like him".
  • In Matador, the principal character Mads Skjern frequently dotes on his stepdaughter Ellen, while being cold, distant and occasionally emotionally abusive towards his biological son, Daniel. It eventually comes to a head when Mads disowns Daniel and banishes him from his house when he finds out that Daniel is homosexual.

  • Camp Gay Bryan on The New Normal felt like this growing up in his Catholic family where even his sister was more butch than him. It carries over into adulthood, as his mother gets along very well with his Straight Gay partner David. Also, David's Jewish Mother Frances is so cloyingly adoring of her son that it gets on Bryan's nerves.
  • Night and Day's Ryan Harper has evidently lived his whole life in sister Jane's shadow, which probably explains why he's so bitter and twisted. Dennis Doyle also feels like an un-favourite since he's the only child in his family who has a different father (or so he thinks), though Alex pretty much treats him like a son.
  • Don Eppes of NUMB3RS has moments where he seems to believe this; it's largely implied that the amount of energy and attention Charlie's Child Prodigy status required meant that Don often ended up not getting as much attention as he should have. However, his father makes it clear that, while he knows Don got the short end of the stick, it was never intentional, he regrets it, and he loves Don every bit as much as he loves Charlie. (Depending on how one reads certain scenes in "Hot Shot", it can possibly be said that his note  mother feels the same way.)
    • Megan Reeves implies she felt like this as well, largely due to the fact that she disappointed her parents just by being born female. Additional details about her childhood and her relationship with her father seem to reinforce this.

  • In Once Upon a Time, Drizella Tremaine is an Arc Villain of season 7 entirely because of this. She and her sister Anastasia were separated from their mother Rapunzel for several years, and when Rapunzel returned, she viewed Anastasia as the dutiful daughter and Drizella as an Emotionless Girl who forgot her. Eventually Drizella learned magic and cast the Dark Curse that created "Hyperion Heights", but couldn't even escape her mother's domineering personality there.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • In "Sandkings", Dr. Simon Kress has felt like this for his entire life as his father always favored his brother David over him.
    • In "Stranded", Kevin Buchanan feels like this since his father Alex spends considerably more time with his sports-orientated elder brother Josh than he does with him.

  • Pie in the Sky: In one episode, a student comes to do work experience at the restaurant. He's the unfavorite of his family, which is underlined when a momentous telephone call to his parents goes unanswered because they're busy with his more popular little sister.

  • Arnold Rimmer in Red Dwarf is a powerful example of an Unfavourite. His brothers were all high-flyers in the Space Corps; Arnold was a technician, the second lowest in rank on a mining ship. While he's a comedic character, some of the abuse he goes through would reach Woobie standards, and goes a long way to explaining why Rimmer's such a git. Unfortunately, it's still difficult to side with him, given the frequency with which he uses his screwed-up past as a carte-blanche excuse for being a jerkass. In some of the darker moments of the books, the tragic side does become clear.
    • Not least in the story which shows just how small the difference in history between him and Ace Rimmer (what a guy!) is. Ace was held back a year and it served as a wake up call to him that he needed to be better.
    • There are several scenes in the show which give Rimmer a more sympathetic POV. Curiously, a deleted scene in Series 6 shows that his brothers all ended up screwed up in later life, making Arnie perhaps the least screwed up of the lot ultimately. Another source of his angst is in Series 2, where he laments that he just wanted his father to congratulate him on something, but will never get the chance now.
    • Then in Series X one of his brothers Howard appears and reveals that although he claimed to be an Officer he was actually a vending machine repairman, just like Rimmer.
    • Series X goes a long way into explaining why he's the unfavorite: He's actually the result of an affair between his mother and the gardener. After a BSOD, he realizes that his real father would have been proud of his accomplishments and he no longer hears the man he believed was his father belittling him in his head.

  • In the early seasons of Schitt's Creek Moira clearly favors David over Alexis. Moira often seeks out David's company while ignoring Alexis, and she doesn't even know Alexis's middle name. Moira even stresses out over a mother and daughter lunch so much, she scripts questions for herself. However, thanks to Character Development, the mother and daughter become close.
  • In Seinfeld, George Costanza is this to his parents compared to Lloyd Braun ("Why can't you be more like Lloyd Braun?"). But Lloyd Braun was in a mental institution.
  • Sherlock Holmes appears to have been one in the Granada adaption of "The Greek Interpreter". Holmes does a double-take when he spots his brother, Mycroft, polishing their father's old antique magnifying glass. Evidently, it was the government bureaucrat — not the world-famous detective — who was deemed worthy of inheriting it.
    Sherlock: Irony.
  • Oh god Skins loves this one; Chris became an unfavourite after his brother died, Freddie is constantly passed over for his attention-seeking sister Karen, Cassie is ignored in favour of her baby brother, Katie's mum has always favoured her over Emily, and in Gen 3 the Nick and Matty situation is... complicated. Sid manages to be the unfavourite despite being an only child - his father constantly wonders why Sid can't be more like his best friend Tony (who is actually a borderline-sociopathic Manipulative Bastard but hides it well). In then turns out Sid's father is the unfavourite to his father who always preferred his other son, showing this a generational problem. Sid's father eventually calls out his father and older brother and tells Sid he has always been proud of him, right before dying.
  • Smallville: Earth-2 Tess, proving that despite her crap life, our Tess is actually better off without being raised as a Luthor. Though at least she was still alive, unlike Earth-2 Lex, who was apparently also The Unfavorite. Apparently neither of them had a chance against their superpowered adoptive brother, Earth-2 Clark.
    • Poor Tess can't seem to catch a break with Earth-2 Lionel in either world, given that on Earth-1- even though Lionel acknowledges that she is definitely a Luthor- he still treats her like crap and considers her both inferior and expendable.
    • The irony of the situation is that Lex thinks he's The Unfavorite. Granted, Lionel is far from the greatest father in the world, but he didn't get abandoned to a rough life probably on the streets like Lucas or to an Orphanage of Fear and then an abusive household like Tess. He might not like their father, but at least Lionel considered Lex worth something, unlike his half-siblings. (It's heavily implied that Lionel abandoned Lucas and Tess just to see how they'd both fair without his influence, using two different methods- allowing Lucas to be raised in a much poorer neighborhood by a single mother, and removing Tess from her mother completely. No word on why the hell her mother was okay with this plan.)
  • One of the most famous routines of the Smothers Brothers involved them arguing about which one their mother loved most. Tommy, despite being older, gets the worst of the unfavorite treatment. While his brother Dickie got a bike, Tommy got a wagon with only one wheel. And instead of getting a dog, Tommy got a chicken.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise's Malcolm Reed failed to follow his family's naval tradition, joining Starfleet instead because of a fear of drowning. This is heavily implied to have made his father—a lifelong navy man—rather cold and distant out of disapproval. There's no evidence that his sister was favoured more than he was, but it's pretty likely that he would have felt like the Unfavourite anyway.
  • There's a bit of this buzzing around Lore, from Star Trek: The Next Generation, who considers Data the favourite of their father. The "older brother" of the two androids Noonien Soong created, Lore (who has emotional awareness, while Data didn't), went a bit off the rails and was deactivated (but not before he was able to call a giant life sucking entity to the colony where he was built in order to destroy it). During his first appearance in Datalore, Lore spends a lot of time convincing Data that Lore was the second of the two built: to "perfect" the mistakes Soong made with Data (turned out it was the other way round. Lore terrified the colonists, who petitioned Soong to make one ''less'' human). The whole favoritism thing comes to a head in the episode Brothers when discovering that Soong has spent the last years of his life perfecting an emotion chip for Data without the "faults" that Lore's had. Lore deactivates Data, takes his place, steals the emotion chip and murders their father before leaving.
    Lore: You didn't fill Data with substandard parts, did you? No, that honour was bestowed upon me. You owe me, old man. Not him. Me.
  • Played With in Still Standing. While Bill and Judy aren't the best parents to any of their three children, they relate to Brian the least due to Brian being very nerdy and effeminate, even announcing that they won't know who he is if he fails at something. One time, they even stole money from him.
  • Succession: while Logan Roy is abusive toward all his four children, two relationships in particular qualify:
    • Logan is most consistently vicious towards his middle son and heir apparent Kendall, whom he repeatedly humiliates, belittles, blackmails and undermines. Paradoxially, this might mean that Kendall is in fact his favorite child and Logan is merely trying to mold him into "a killer" who can step up as CEO of the company.
    • Conversely, Logan's oldest child, Connor, is a Disappointing Older Sibling whom Logan considers a complete nonfactor in the family's Succession Crisis. Logan's lack of respect and/or interest in his firstborn makes him treat Connor with more kindness than he affords any of his other children.
  • Supernatural: Even though Dean's Daddy issues are a lot more obvious, you could say that both of them fit this trope. The only affection Dean ever gets from John is when John is possessed or about to die, a regrettable incident that happened when he was 9 gets hung over his head for 17 years. And as for Sam, he's disowned when he wants to be normal, John actually blames him for his brother's impending death in "In My Time Of Dying" and he gets two utterly dismal goodbyes while Dean at least gets an apology and a smile. And the worst thing? He told Dean that he might have to kill Sam if he goes bad, and Dean thought he had to basically commit suicide (just not right away) because John gave him an order and he failed and, as shown by Long Distance Caller is still devoted to his father. Oh, John. You might have been a good man but you failed at being even a halfway decent father.
    • Lampshaded by the Yellow-Eyed Demon who tells Dean that even though John argued and yelled at Sam a lot, it was 'more concern than he's ever shown you.'
    • Its then revealed that John had another son, Adam, who he kept out of the Hunter lifestyle and whose very existence he kept from Sam and Dean. Adam also feels like the unfavorite, meaning John managed to make all of his sons feel this way.
    • Strange version: Lucifer regards himself as this, but Gabriel points out that they all know that God loved Lucifer more than any of the other angels, more than Michael and more than Gabriel himself. The reason Gabriel believes Lucifer hates humans? He felt that God cared about them more and would demote him to this trope.

  • Taken: Owen Crawford can barely tolerate even being around his elder son Eric, openly favoring his younger son Sam. The signs are initially comparatively minor:
    • In "High Hopes", when Eric and Sam are listening to Bob Dylan's self-titled debut album, Owen says that Sam could always get his work done at the last minute but scolds Eric. He says that Eric is not the straight A student who can afford to spend the evening in front of the record player. Anne later tells Sam that he has always been his father's favorite, which helps her to realize that his birthday is the combination to Owen's safe.
    • In "Acid Tests", Owen's favoritism has become more pronounced as he appears to be irritated by everything that Eric says and does, often belittling and embarrassing him in public. While Owen still loves Sam as much as ever, Sam has grown to hate him because he sees him as representing everything that is wrong with the United States in 1970 and considers the UFO project nothing more than a Government Conspiracy to distract people from the real issues such as The Vietnam War. After Eric tells him that Sam is dead, Owen is so shocked and distraught that he has a massive stroke. Eric realizes that his father always treated him so badly because he saw his own death when he was Mind Raped by Jacob (as seen in "Jacob and Jesse") and knew that Eric would be with him when it happened. As he dies, Eric taunts him by saying that he brought about his death, claiming that he could have avoided it if he had simply been a little nicer to him.
  • Taxi: Alex's sister Charlotte worriedly drops by to tell him their father Joe had suffered a heart attack. Contrary to what she expected, Alex doesn't even mind. May sound like an uncharacteristically selfish act from him, but it turns out in a later conversation that apart from deserting the family frequently since Alex was a kid, their father lent much less attention to him than to Charlotte, for whom Joe bought a brand-new car as her 21st birthday present and one year paid for her tuition.
  • In That '70s Show, both of the Forman parents have a favorite: Red clearly favors Laurie, seeing past all her poor behavior and sluttiness. Kitty recognizes all her daughter's flaws and favors her younger child Eric, attempting to keep him at home while being fine when Laurie moves away.
  • Max from The Thundermans: he is clearly the least favourite child in the household. His parents constantly ignore him, make fun of him (along with his siblings), call him stupid, imply they love the other children more, etc. And it causes him to have many issues. A lot of times they don't want him around. While his mother has made it clear that she loves him, he's still treated like crap and believes that his family will turn against him.

  • In The Vampire Diaries, Damon Salvatore considered himself to be this to his father Giuseppe, on account of his willful and rebellious nature (in contrast to his more dutiful brother Stefan) leading to all manner of sibling rivalry later on. Although Guiseppe's attitude towards his sons does at least have some basis in reality—Stefan genuinely was the better-behaved and more moral of the two—his treatment of Damon borders on parental abuse. The same kind of situation arose between Klaus Mikaelson, who was somewhat arrogant and impulsive as a boy, and his more sensible elder brother Elijah—when we see a flashback of the family, their father Mikael is shown punishing Klaus incredibly severely, publicly humiliating him and actually coming pretty close to killing the boy just for pulling a dumb prank on his brother. And it only got worse when Mikael discovered that Klaus was not in fact his biological son. Some time down the road, Mikael actually devotes his life to attempting to kill Klaus. Admittedly, Klaus is an Axe-Crazy vampire overlord by this point, but it's heavily implied that he was The Unfavourite right from the start, whether he deserved to be or not.
  • In Veronica Mars Cassidy Casablancas, the younger of two sons, was clearly the unfavorite as the victim of bullying by his father and the 'favourite', his elder brother, as the dad and sibling had competitions to see who could make him cry first. This character would also come under the All of the Other Reindeer umbrella.
  • In Victorious, Trina is implied to be this. How much? After getting her wisdom teeth removed, her parents went on vacation for the sole purpose of not wanting to take care of her.
    • It's not without justification. Tori has a nice, caring and generous personality. While Trina tends to act like a whiny brat to get her way who has to hang out with her sisters friends because she can't make any on her own.

  • In The West Wing, Ellie Bartlet clearly sees herself this way when it comes to her father; he swears it's not true. Incidentally, he says that she's "always belonged to Abbey", which could make him The Unfavourite parent.
  • Wynonna Earp:
    • It turns out Waverly was this, at least to her father and oldest sister Willa. Her father ignored her to the point of not knowing her birthday, and Willa bullied her to the point that Waverly later believes Willa was actively trying to kill her. It probably has something to do with the reveal that Waverly is not actually an Earp by blood, something her parents knew all along and Willa suspected. Mama Earp and Wynonna both adored Waverly, but Mama Earp left when Waverly was four and Wynonna appears to have been totally oblivious to Waverly's Unfavorite status.
    • After their father and Willa died when Waverly was six, she became free of this trope and was raised by a loving Honorary Uncle. Meanwhile, Wynonna became the new Unfavorite as her delinquency and mental instability caused her to be separated from Waverly, and shunted into the foster care system instead.

  • In Xena: Warrior Princess, Joxer was disdained by his family. His parents are warlords, his brother Jett is an assassin, and Joxer is a clumsy wimp who can't do anything right. The family is embarrassed by his other brother Jace for being Camp Gay, but they respect him because he's successful as a singer and musician. Joxer eventually makes peace with his two brothers.
  • In The X-Files, the Smoking Man clearly favors his illegitimate son Mulder over the legitimate one, Jeffrey. He compares them unfavorably to Jeffrey's face on several occasions and actually ends up shooting Jeffrey himself.
    CSM: (slaps Jeffrey) You pale to Fox Mulder.

  • Young Dracula: Despite being the child that most takes after him, Ingrid is consistently ignored and humiliated by her sexist father.
  • Young Sheldon: Georgie and Missy are this to their mother since she obviously focuses more on Sheldon than them, almost to the point of Parental Neglect.


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