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[[quoteright:286:[[Film/{{Elf}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/elf6_1177.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:286: Exhibit A. [[BaitAndSwitchComparison The character he's playing counts too]].]]

Sometimes people just fail to develop into social or intellectual maturity. Maybe it's due to a very loving but confining {{m|yBelovedSmother}}other or [[OverprotectiveDad father]]. Or maybe they just didn't want to [[MommasBoy leave the nest]]. Maybe they've been [[MeddlingParents intentionally secluded]] from learning about the world. Maybe it's the result of brain damage or something [[ThisIsYourBrainOnEvil more sinister]]. Perhaps they just never had [[InnocenceLost a life-changing moment]] involving [[DeathByNewberyMedal a shotgun and a beloved pet]]. Maybe it's just a form of MarsAndVenusGenderContrast. Who can say?

Although the causes might not be clear, the effects are. The Man-Child, a term invented by Creator/WilliamFaulkner, is usually an adult who possesses a very childlike or childish demeanor. He's emotionally both simple and fragile; he prefers (although does not always ''need'') to have a parent figure to look after him. He usually [[WideEyedIdealist isn't very worldly]] and is typically pretty [[TheIngenue gullible]]. The Man-Child's interests are usually what most people consider to be immature or childish, sometimes even in comparison to actual children.

The character is almost AlwaysMale. This is (presumably) to contrast the differences between him and "normal men" with the normal responsibilities and wisdom of adulthood. The female version is usually split between TheIngenue, the GenkiGirl, or other tropes which highlight an adult woman's child-like attributes rather than her grown-up persona. Manchild has many more negative connotations than TheIngenue; the manchild's immaturity and lack of outward adult behavior is emphasized as being a bad thing versus being an emphasized good thing like TheIngenue's purity and idealism. This is also because of the DoubleStandard most societies have, which exist for various reasons, where they [[MenAreTheExpendableGender expect more from men]] [[MenActWomenAre than they do from women]]. On the BrainChain, the Man Child occupies a space between The CloudCuckoolander and TheDitz, but without necessarily becoming TheFool. He usually does not have TheFool's [[BornLucky luck]], but he doesn't necessarily play the role of the ButtMonkey either. Although the Man-Child is commonly portrayed as being mentally challenged he does not necessarily have to be. In many cases, the character may be very intelligent, and even leave the [[WideEyedIdealist idealism]] aside and be very shrewd in business or career, but this only throws him deep in the UncannyValley when others [[PsychopathicManchild find out his emotional immaturity]]. Alternatively, his childlike qualities/way of thinking, when intelligently applied, can be a ''basis'' for his success as a businessman, in which case he's also TheWonka.

In [[ComedyTropes comedic works]], he usually plays the role of TheDitz. In [[DramaTropes dramatic works]], he could be the JerkWithAHeartOfGold due to his simplicity or immaturity, or he could be [[EnsembleDarkhorse the sympathetic character]] we come to love. Sometimes the Man Child embarks on a late-in-the-day ComingOfAgeStory, which ushers him into true adulthood. Note that usually SexAsRiteOfPassage works only some of the time. In many instances, A Man Child is not necessarily a virgin, but only sees sex as a tool of pleasure and does not recognize its emotional significance.

OneOfTheKids is related, in where their childishness is caused by spending a lot of time around children.

Does not relate to NeverGrewUp, because they physically did grow up - but never outgrew being attached to immature or childish things or behavior. SisterTrope (perhaps) to AdultsDressedAsChildren, although that trope is almost always played for laughs or borders on the [[UncannyValley grotesque]]. Compare {{Keet}}, OneOfTheKids, KiddieKid. For a villainous version, see PsychopathicManchild. Compare BasementDweller. Not related to ''Series/{{Manchild}}'', the British TV series, either. Compare and contrast TheThreeFacesOfAdam. Contrast with WiseBeyondTheirYears, where a child acts like an adult.

!!Example subpages:

* ManChild/AnimeAndManga
* ManChild/ComicBooks
* ManChild/{{Film}}
* ManChild/{{Literature}}
* ManChild/LiveActionTV
* ManChild/VideoGames
* ManChild/WebComics
* ManChild/WebOriginal
* ManChild/WesternAnimation

!! Other examples


[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* ''ComicStrip/InSecurity'' has Sedine, a CloudCuckoolander GenkiGirl who is so childish she makes Sam seem more like her babysitter than her husband, then there's Sedine's cousin Roy . . .

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In ''Fanfic/AceCombatTheEquestrianWar'' Cloud Kicker, one of main heroines, has a very childish personality most of the time.
* [[DownplayedTrope A downplayed example in]]''{{FanFic/A Growing Affection}}'' by Naruto. Most evident when he's ''giddy'' at the prospect of building sand castles. At age 16. Painfully justifed because of Naruto's [[AllTheOtherReindeer lonely and damaged childhood.]] Ino [[ShuttingUpNow shuts up when Naruto points this out.]]
* In ''[[http://www.fanfiction.net/s/8651221/1/Batshark Batshark]]'', a FusionFic combining a [[{{Crossover}} cartoon crossover]] with ''{{Franchise/Batman}}'', [[WesternAnimation/OpenSeason Elliot the deer]] plays Two-Face as a half-adult-half-manchild as opposed to a half-lawyer-half-criminal. And then there is the fusion of ComicBook/TheJoker and [[{{WesternAnimation/Superjail}} The Warden]]...
* In ''[[http://www.fanfiction.net/s/6506780/9/Death-s-Design-Fate-s-Plan Death's Design, Fate's Plan]]'' Hermione referred to Sirius as a "man child without the ability to grow up." Sirius replied that Harry's mother once said something very similar to him and Remus commented that every female he knew had said something similar at one time or another.
* Likewise, in ''Fanfic/TheLifeOfTheLegendaries'', [[OlympusMons Legendaries]] Mew and Jirachi are ''extremely'' immature and have many, many childish habits.
* The Grand Ruler from ''Fanfic/MyBravePonyStarfleetMagic''. He likes to play hopscotch.
* In ''[[http://www.fanfiction.net/s/6780275/1/The-Last-Casualties The Last Casualties]]'' Voldemort put Harry's parents into suspended animation in a pocket dimension for thirteen years instead of killing them outright. Lily called James a man child in exasperated affection when he gave Snape a "welcome back present" by turning his robe pink.
** Keep in mind that James and Lily were ''only 21'' when [[FridgeHorror they would've been killed]], so the comment is not impactful as imagined. [[WordOfGod Rowling herself didn't realize it until years later.]]
* In ''Fanfic/PokeWars'', [[OlympusMons Mew]] is depicted as being ''incredibly'' immature. As evidenced by his words upon meeting Latias.
--> '''Mew:''' Hi. I'm Mew. Wanna play?
* In ''The Power of the Mind'' Remus referred to Sirius as "special" while apologizing for his behavior to a Muggle salesclerk. Harry later asked if there was any truth to that because Sirius was the biggest man child he'd ever met.
* Beelzebub from ''FanFic/SonicXDarkChaos'' is an immature drug-fueled hedonist that would easily be the poster for a man child if he wasn't also incredibly [[AnythingThatMoves dangerous]].
* ''WebVideo/DragonBallAbridged'' portrays Nappa as this. In this story, he is a borderline disabled PsychopathicManchild whose dialogue mainly consists of [[CloudCuckooLander non-sequiturs]] and random annoyances to his partner [[TheComicallySerious Vegeta]] to the point that "Goddammit, Nappa!" has become his CatchPhrase.
* ''Fanfic/PacificWorldWarIIUsNavyShipgirls'' has Chester, who treats other peoples' weapons like toys and throws them around without second thought, not to mention acting childish even during the middle of combat.

* British lad-mag ''Magazine/{{Loaded}}'' was predicated on this trope and serviced the needs of Man-Children who were beginning to feel marginalised and scorned by a society and culture that no longer valued them as much. At its peak in UsefulNotes/TheNineties it had a circulation approavching half a million and spawned many imitators, including [[TransAtlanticEquivalent American equivalents]] like ''GQ'' and ''Maxim''.

* Music/RingoStarr's persona in Music/TheBeatles. They generally gave him rather sweet, childish songs to sing, like "With a Little Help From My Friends", "Yellow Submarine", and "Octopus's Garden" (which he wrote himself).
* Music/{{Blink182}}'s [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7l5ZeVVoCA&ob=av3e "What's My Age Again?"]] is about a 23-year old who is about to get laid, but he gets distracted by the TV, so the girl leaves, and he prank calls her mother in retaliation.
* Music/{{Buckethead}}, the stage persona of musician Brian Carroll, is generally built around being both childish and a little creepy. It's common for Buckethead to play with toys and trade them with the audience during his live performances. He'll also avoid talking or giving interviews in general, except in a few recorded ones where he uses his scary mask / puppet Herbie to "speak for him".
* Music/CountingCrows' [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAe3sCIakXo "Round Here"]], is about not having a conception of what being an adult means, "Round here we're never sent to bed early, no one makes us wait. Round here we stay up very, very, very, very late"
* The Idle Race's [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HG7_S3nv7uY&feature=related "I Like My Toys"]], which deals with a thirty-one year old man's desire to play with his childhood toys instead of looking for a job, much to his parents' chagrin.
* The late Creator/MichaelJackson is often said to be one, due to his building a personal amusement park in his home, Neverland Ranch (whose name also connotes this trope) and from being badly abused and denied a childhood when he was young.
* In the movie ''Film/TheWall'', it's implied that Old Pink is one. For example, when a girl seduces him in his hotel room, he responds by trashing up the place; in "The Thin Ice" he's seen watching a Tom and Jerry cartoon on the TV; and, in "Is There Anybody Out There?" when he's building a mandala/replica of a military barracks/whatever it's supposed to be, a battery-powered toy robot is visible among the props.
* {{Music/Weezer}}'s song "Dreamin'".
* Music/JonathanRichman poses as one to boast his innocent songs.
* "Manchild" by Music/{{Eels}} from their album ''Music/BeautifulFreak'' about his sister who committed suicide in a mental institution.
* Music/JoniMitchell's song "A Strange Boy" from the album ''Music/{{Hejira}}'' is about a lover who shares some man child traits:
-->''What a strange boy''\\
''He still lives with his family''\\
''Even the war and the navy''\\
''Could not bring him to maturity''.
* Music/DanielAmos's "Baby Game" (from ''Music/{{Alarma}}'') is about a female example. It's a satire of Christians who never bother to learn anything about their faith and just keep believing exactly what they did as a child.
-->Little birds are helpless, way up in the tree\\
They cry for mother almost constantly\\
But little birds must one day take their wing\\
I told her this, she threw her rattle at me

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* [[Wrestling/MickieJames Alexis Laree]] in Bad Boys Of Wrestling. She mistook birth control for candy.
* Find an archive that houses Abyss's career ([[EarlyInstallmentWeirdness at least starting]] with the Abyss [[TheGimmick gimmick]]) and marvel as he gradually transitions from a WrestlingMonster in Puerto Rico and Wrestling/{{N|ationalWrestlingAlliance}}WA to asking if Wrestling/{{Jacqueline}} on his lap means he's no longer a virgin in Wrestling/{{TNA}}.
* [[Wrestling/RonKillings R-Truth]] after being betrayed by Wrestling/JohnMorrison on Wrestling/WWERaw, rapidly descended into an [[PsychoPathicManchild madness]] and childlike behavior.
* Wrestling/TheRock's criticism of Wrestling/JohnCena basically boiled down to The Rock seeing Cena as a giant child. Cena had a [[KidAppealCharacter counter argument]], though it didn't endear him anymore.
* Wrestlers who frequently throw tantrums when things don't go their way, such as Wrestling/ChrisJericho when he's a heel, Wrestling/AliciaFox or Wrestling/KenAnderson.

* ''Radio/CabinPressure'' gives us Arthur Shappey, the relentlessly cheerful and optimistic steward of the aeroplane who is gullible to the point of idiocy, gets ridiculously excited over Christmas, [[MommasBoy still lives with his mother]], genuinely thinks it's possible for something to be [[CloudCuckoolander bigger than the box it's in]], has discovered the secret to true happiness, and thinks everything and everyone is utterly [[CatchPhrase ''brilliant'']]. And who once killed a man.

* Willy Wonka in the 2013 musical version of ''Theatre/CharlieAndTheChocolateFactory'' is a downplayed version. He has a distinctly adult air of authority and elegance, but at the same time has childlike wonder, enthusiasm, impatience, creativity, and -- to a lesser extent -- innocence, rather AmbiguousInnocence at that.
* Batman loves the circus in ''Theatre/HolyMusicalBatman'':
--> '''Alfred''': You can't stay in your pillow fort and cry forever.
* The Green Role from the Reduced Shakespeare Company's RagtagBunchOfMisfits. Being the Man Child of the group is his defining characteristic.
* The clown in Creator/CirqueDuSoleil's ''Theatre/{{Saltimbanco}}'', Eddie, is quite childlike as he pulls pranks on others and engages an audience member in a pantomimed Wild West shootout. In fact, he might actually be the adult form of the Child seen early on, if a transitional scene is anything to go by.
* Peter Pan is one in ''Theatre/ShrekTheMusical'':
--> '''Peter:''' Maybe if we all close our eyes and clap really hard!\\
'''Pinocchio:''' Oh, grow up!\\
'''Peter:''' I won't grow up!\\
'''Pinocchio:''' You're thirty-four and need a shave!
* Tobias Ragg from ''Theatre/SweeneyToddTheDemonBarberOfFleetStreet'' can be played several ways, and this is one of them. Bonus points if he is still childish because of insanity and/or mental handicap, both common portrayals. TheMovie made him an actual pre-pubescent boy, a method that is much harder to pull off on-stage, mostly because labor laws require underage performers to be doubled.
* ''Theatre/TheCompleteHistoryOfAmericaAbridged'' depicts UsefulNotes/RonaldReagan as an irresponsible overgrown lap-boy with an undersized puppet body who calls Nancy "Mommy."

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'': Saber is, we are told, not actually fifteen; after receiving her sword [[spoiler:and becoming KingArthur]], she didn't age over the next ten years, and she's really in her twenties. Not only does nobody mention how strange it is for her to have a romance with the seventeen year old main character, but she's as naive emotionally as a real seventeen year old, which is {{Hand Wave}}d by claiming that [[spoiler:as the king]] she had no personal life, or more specifically, she spent so much time [[TheStoic keeping her emotions bottled away for the greater good]] that when put into a situation where she actually uses them leaves her vulnerable, not helped by the fact that her romance with the main character is one of the first times [[WhatIsThisThingYouCallLove she legitimately felt romantic love for somebody else]].
* Kyousuke from ''VisualNovel/LittleBusters'' is a benevolent, more subtle example: because he's so obsessed with finding fun things to do, tends to be overdramatic and switch between extreme emotions, and doesn't always possess the greatest amounts of common sense (though that's not unusual in this game) he's commonly compared with a child.
* Ciel from ''VisualNovel/{{Tsukihime}}'' has a similar situation to [[VisualNovel/FateStayNight Saber's]] going on, but in that case it's actually lampshaded in Kagetsu Tohya.