Trust me, being the middle child is one of the worst fates you can have. It’s not even something you just have to deal with as a kid. It lasts well into your adulthood. You think it’s bad competing with your little brother? Try competing with his kids. (In a friendly, loving way, of course.) Yeah, nieces and nephews soon become the enemy too. (Again, an enemy that you deeply love and care for.) It’s a rough life to live, but someone’s got to do it. We’re truly the brave ones in this world.
We’re not the only ones though. Thankfully there has been a myriad of middle child characters in movies and on TV that have helped aid in the pain of being stuck in the middle. The middle kids of reality salute these middle child characters, from Lisa Simpson to Ian Gallager, because we know all too well how hard that spot is. Now let’s take a look at the best from movies and TV!
19. Lisa Simpson, The Simpsons
Imagine being an eight-year-old middle child for almost three decades. That has got to be rough. Alas, that is the reality for our dear, dear Lisa Simpson. Smart, passionate and often overlooked because of her brother who seems to live for trouble, Lisa is the poster girl for the middle child syndrome.
18. Stephanie Tanner, Full House
Not only was Stephanie trying to garner attention away from her teenage sister and the always adorable Michelle from their dad, but she also had two uncles in the house, too. Not only was she caught in the middle as a daughter, but as a niece, too. As she would say, “how rude!” It’s alright though, she proved to be the coolest when they got older and we met the Tanners again thanks to Netflix with Fuller House.
17. Malcolm, Malcolm in the Middle
Malcolm played into the stereotype that the middle child isn’t just smarter (and a bit weirder) but also the most neurotic. We’re not mad though because at the end of the day, he was the hero that often taught us that it was okay to stand out in a crowd, especially when that crowd was your own dysfunctional family. Plus, for being a “forgotten middle child,” he was the star of the show!
16. Carol Seaver, Growing Pains
When it came to taking a beating, Carol Seaver will always win. That poor girl got way too much verbal abuse from her older brothers. In spite of all that, she was able to rise above and love them both as we hope they truly loved her. She was definitely a bigger person than we ever could have been. We would’ve fought back, and probably won.
15. Meg Griffin, Family Guy
Speaking of abuse… Meg Griffin is forever the butt of about 97% of the jokes that go on in the Griffin household. When really, it should be her older brother, Chris. Seriously, that dude is totally weird. Nevertheless, Meg has evolved to sort of just take it with a grain of salt and has taught us that rolling with the punches can sometimes do well for a person.
14. Dash Parr, The Incredibles
You may think, why this kid? He can’t be feeling that horrendous as the middle child. He is in a family of superheroes! Think again. Granted, Dash is incredibly fast, but that doesn’t solve everything.
13. Barry Goldberg, The Goldbergs
Since we’re on the subject of erratic, please let us introduce you to Barry Goldberg. His older sister is the only girl in the family, musically amazing and off thriving in college now. His younger brother is adorable, insanely creative with a camera and of course, mama’s baby boy. Then there’s Barry. While loved by his smother-mother, we feel his pain to act out for attention all of the time. In between those siblings, you’d have to.
12. Darlene Conner, Roseanne
Daria often gets the crown when it comes to teenage angst, but let’s not forget Darlene Conner from Roseanne. From a tomboy to a moody teen, we watched her character evolve while at the same time keeping her quick wit and comedic attitude intact. She didn’t make it look easy being the middle child, but she did make it look cool.
11. Alex P. Keaton, Family Ties
Everybody knows that middle children can go to extremes trying to stand out in the crowd and Alex P. Keaton was no different! Alex’s claim to fame was as the middle child who rebelled by being… conservative? Yup, Alex P. Keaton stood out from his sisters and his former hippy parents by being a true blue, unapologetic Republican.
10. Randy Taylor, Home Improvement
Typically the middle child gets a lot less attention than the others. Not this time, darling. Randy Taylor may’ve been the middle kid, but because he was played by ’90s Tiger Beat heartthrob fav Jonathan Taylor Thomas, everyone loved him. He was basically the reason why many of us tuned into the ABC series back in the day.
9. Ian Gallagher, Shameless
If you’ve ever watched even just 15 minutes of Shameless, you’d think every Gallagher was the middle child for one reason or another. In the end, there could only be one and it’s Ian Gallagher. Probably the kid with the most heart in the family, yet he’s still got the family DNA. That, matched with being in the middle of one truly messed up bunch, we’re never really surprised when Ian’s life heads off the rails.
8. Gene Belcher, Bob’s Burgers
There are times when we forget Gene is the middle. Because we’re so into the given stereotypes of a middle child, our minds feel like it’s Tina Belcher who is forever in second place. Nope. The real middle child is the eccentric, always-singing-something Gene. When you think about it, it totally makes sense, too.
7. Dawn Weiner, Welcome to the Dollhouse
Far from suave is Dawn Weiner. She is one of those middle child characters that will forever live on in infamy because, well, she truly was the forgotten part of the family. At one point, she was literally left making her own “Special People Club.” Heartbreaking and all too real at the same time, we just want to give Dawn, and those middle children like her, a big old hug.
6. Joey Russo, Blossom
Blossom may have been the star of the show, but it was hard not to watch every move Joey made. Why? He just happened to nail the whole ’90s hot look. That shaggy long hair, those ripped sleeves, that sort of dumb-but-endearing smile. What Joey did, though, was showcase that not all middle children are obnoxious know-it-alls or geeky introverts. They can also be suave and cool, too.
5. Alex Dunphy, Modern Family
If you ever need a good cry and want to connect on a spiritual level with a middle child, watch the episode “Under Pressure” and feel the feels. Modern Family could go on for 27 more years and this would still be the pinnacle of Alex Dunphy’s character. The stress to be academically perfect that led to her breakdown is one of the most relatable things. Not only middle children who strive for perfection in order to get some footing within their family, but also many others.
4. Samantha, Sixteen Candles
You wanna talk about being overlooked? Well, let’s not forget our girl from Sixteen Candles. The middle child can forget and forgive a lot of things, but missing one of the most important birthdays of our lives? Nope! At least she got the guy in the end so we could rejoice and leave our depression for her at the door.
3. Cory Matthews, Boy Meets World
Every time I think of Cory being the middle child, the episode regarding his hair comes to mind. His curly mane is unlike anyone else in the Matthews home. It’s unlike his friends, too, who could model for Vidal Sassoon. He’s left hopeless and feeling erratic. That sense of being an outsider, even for the littlest thing, is something most middle children feel. Thankfully, Cory learned that he was fine just the way he was. Those curls make his character Cory Matthews.
2. Sue Heck, The Middle
While many middle children can be a bit bitter about the whole thing, Sue Heck is quite the opposite. Her positivity about the world may seem naive, but she’s proof that being sandwiched in between siblings isn’t always as bad as people make it out to be. Either that, or she’s losing it.
1. Mike Wheeler, Stranger Things
When it comes to the Wheeler household, every kid is sort of forgotten about. Their parents are kind of oblivious to the reality their kids are a part of, but that’s fine. Mike can handle himself. He represents the independent badass that many middle children are, and quite honestly have to be because they’re so damn ignored.