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Norman Osborn: Peter! Good to see you! Here to help Harry, eh?

Peter Parker: We help each other, Mr. O.

Norman Osborn: Now, now, Peter, modesty doesn't become men like us. Smart, driven, responsible. Self-made.

Peter Parker: I'm...more of a work in progress.

Norman Osborn: (With a significant glance at Harry) At least you're making progress.

A type of being The Unfavorite in which a character's parent compares them negatively to one of their friends. It is very common for the character in question to make a Face Heel Turn because of this, and become antagonistic towards the friend. The extent to which the parent shows this attitude tends to vary, ranging from an unconscious preference for the friend to an openly antagonistic attitude towards their own child.

Examples of Why Are You Not My Son include:

Comic Books

  • Reed Richard's father in Ultimate Fantastic Four blatantly prefers the more athletic Ben Grimm to his own genius son.


  • Norman Osborn in the first Spider-Man film is a more unintentional example, clearly impressed by Peter's brilliance and implicitly comparing his own son, Harry, negatively to Peter. As everyone knows, Norman becomes the villain the Green Goblin, and Harry ends up going crazy and following in his father's footsteps.
  • The movie O is Othello set at a high school, and has the Iago character as the son of a coach and the Othello equivalent being his favorite player. Unlike the original play, this makes "Iago" somewhat sympathetic rather than acting For the Evulz.


  • To an extent, Ron encounters this in Harry Potter. He already feels like The Unfavorite compared to his siblings, but there are also some moments where his parents dote on Harry and he feels slighted.
    • Ron gets off easy compared to Neville. In addition to the pressure of living up to his Auror parents, his grandmother likes to ask him why he couldn't be more like Harry (and she only speaks to him once in the series). This leads to a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming when Professor McGonagall tells Neville that it's time his grandmother started appreciating the grandson she had instead of the one she thought she ought to have.
  • In Clan of the Cave Bear, Brun shames his son Broud by referring to Ayla, a girl, as the son he should have had.

Live Action TV

  • There's a comic twist on this in Harry Enfield and Chums. In one of the Kevin and Perry sketches Kevin's parents ask him why he has to be so rude and nasty to them all the time, unlike the shy and polite Perry. Of course this is immediately subverted when Kevin takes a phone call from Perry's parents and becomes shy and polite while talking to them, then puts Perry on who is immediately rude and nasty to them.
  • Subverted in the episode dealing with Daedalus and Icarus in The Storyteller. Daedalus is frustrated by his son Icarus' clumsiness and lack of inventive genius. A cousin comes to stay with them who does have this brilliance and attracts Daedalus' favor. The twist, is that although he acts like a "Well Done, Son" Guy towards Icarus, Daedalus "accidentally-on-purpose" kills his nephew, both because he reminds him of disappointment in his own son, and because he sees him as a rival.
    • This also happened in the actual myths and was much less "accidental".
  • In Kings, the ruling King Silas prefers David to his son Jack because Jack's homosexuality and generally hedonistic lifestyle prevents him from being capable of taking over the kingdom.
  • In S1, Sylar seemed to be under the impression that Chandra initially preffered him to Mohinder. At least, that's what Sylar tells Mohinder.
  • Tripp on Dirty Sexy Money certainly seems to prefer Nick over all of his own children.
  • In the first series of Skins, Sid's episode shows that his father clearly prefers Tony over him.
  • In Season 1 of Gossip Girl, Eleanor is more friendly and seems to favor Serena over her daughter, Blair.
  • A subversion on Glee: Burt Hummel is quite accepting of his Camp Gay son Kurt, even though he's a fairly masculine man himself. But when Finn becomes his stepson, Burt and Finn start bonding over their similar interests, and Kurt fears that this trope is occurring, until his father assures him that though he may not always understand Kurt, he always loves him. Burt even chews out Finn for using a homophobic slur against Kurt, though he later chews out Kurt as well when he learns why Finn was so upset with Kurt.
  • An episode of Boy Meets World has Cory impressing Frankie Stecchino's pro-wrestler father by displaying knowledge of wrestling moves and his battle cries, prompting the man to demand why his son can't be like that boy. The bulk of the episode revolves around Cory trying to help father and son bond.

Tabletop Games

  • Magic: The Gathering: Vuel is Sidar Kondo's real son, Gerrard his adopted son. When Gerrard inadvertently makes Vuel fail his Rite of Passage, Kondo rejects him, and he eventually turns into Volrath, Gerrard's eventual mortal enemy.


  • They aren't necessarily friends, but in Shakespeare's Henry IV Part 1, the titular king openly compares his son Harry to rebel leader Hotspur and considers the latter far superior.

Western Animation

  • In an episode of King of the Hill, Dale starts teaching Bobby acting and Hank starts teaching Dale's son lacrosse in a variant of this trope.
  • One SpongeBob SquarePants episode has Spongebob trying to act very mature, and his grandparents pampering Patrick instead. Spongebob ends up breaking into tears and admitting he likes being babied.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man also uses the Norman Osborn favoring Peter plot, but this version of Norman is much more malicious and openly demeans his son.
  • Recess, "More Like Gretchen": Gretchen and Spinelli spend the day with Spinelli's parents, who can't stop gushing about Gretchen.
  • On one episode of The Replacements, Riley goes to Canada on an exchange program and the boy from Canada who arrives to live with the Darlings ends up being so well liked that the family neglects Todd.
  • In American Dad, this comes about after Steve complains about Stan forcing him to get involved with his interests. As a result, Stan takes an interest in Steve's friend Barry. It Gets Worse when Barry stops taking his anti-psychotic medication and decides to eliminate Steve from the picture.
  • On Young Justice, Icicle Sr. praises Tommy Terror (actually Superboy in disguise) and compares him favorably to his son, Tommy/Superboy's cellmate Icicle Jr.
    • Dick seems to feel this way in "Downtime" when Batman takes Aqualad aside for a private talk, even though it's not really the case (Bats actually chewing out Aqualad). Bruce later mends things with a pick-up basketball game.
  • An early episode of South Park has Jimbo and Ned so impressed by the foul-mouthed, gasoline-drinking Kenny that Jimbo calls him his honorary nephew. Stan, whose inability to shoot animals and refusal to drink beer has disappointed Jimbo, is crushed when he overhears this.