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->''"Is ''every'' adult in this show a moron?!"''
-->-- '''Timmy Turner''', ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddparents'', [[HypocriticalHumor commenting on a parody of]] ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''.

In some shows that revolve around teenagers, preteens, or younger children, adults can't do anything right -- [[ThereAreNoAdults if they appear on-screen at all]]. Teachers tend to be annoying sticks-in-the-mud who do nothing but [[SadistTeacher spoil people's fun]]. Parents are [[NotNowKid clueless]], and either [[OverprotectiveDad over-]] or [[FreeRangeChildren under]]protective. And any other designated authority figures the kid might come across? [[PoliceAreUseless Forget it]].

Usually, this is just plot necessity (especially on comedy shows). After all, a HighSchoolHustler could hardly get anything done if the teachers kept their eyes open, and if the parents were vigilant; being told that YouAreGrounded would wreck the plot.

But on a handful of drama shows, there's a real venom to it. ''Series/RadioFreeRoscoe'' is about a group of heroic teens who defy a tyrannical school administration. On a smaller scale, ''Series/DegrassiTheNextGeneration'' has episodes where it is implied that stealing school property is no big deal, but it's disgraceful to inform on the thief.

This can also occur in shows where you CantGetAwayWithNuthin -- kids who break school rules somehow ''always'' get caught, [[LaserGuidedKarma but due to bad luck]], not because a teacher was alert.

This is also common when [[NotNowKiddo adults are told something is happening, but simply don't believe it]], resulting in a CassandraTruth. The logical extreme of this trope is ThereAreNoAdults.

This trope often gives the impression that only teens or younger kids are capable of saving the world and stuff. The problem with this is that it implies that there's no point in telling adults about your problems because [[FamilyUnfriendlyAesop they'd either disbelieve you or be too useless to help.]]

However, this trope can occasionally be used in a more mature fashion to demonstrate a moral about growing up and realizing that adults are not all-powerful. This is especially common in military or war-themed shows and literature, where the point is that adults are ultimately unable to protect the younger generation. This version is, unfortunately, often TruthInTelevision. Another interpretation of this is merely that the adults who ''can'' help won't because the dilemma's solution (at least the obvious and often more exciting one) would pretty much wind up breaking several laws and safety codes. This can be especially true in a lot of shows involving the police or military; the ones who strictly adhere to code are always shown incompetent whereas the ones who break code are the competent ones. It may be a good way to teach that you can't solve all your problems by just asking the grown-ups to help.

Another seldom-used aspect of this trope sort of plays off the above. In this version, it's not that Adults are useless; quite the opposite. The problem is that the protagonists -- because of youthful embarrassment, a need to prove themselves or [[BullyingADragon simple ego]] -- can't ask for help, or accept it when it's given. The message here is that asking for help is a good thing (one can't do everything alone) and not bothering to trust people with more skill/experience ultimately causes more trouble than it's worth. This version is also TruthInTelevision, but you'll not find many young people who are willing to admit that.

Another more mature variant of the trope (and one that is also unfortunately TruthInTelevision) is that the adults are abusive and other adults around cover for the abuse or justify it and/or the abusers. While in many settings there's someone the child could ''eventually'' find for help, in some (small towns in TheFifties, before the internet, fundamentalist religious societies) there isn't or the children don't know/can't find the actually supportive adults and/or can't identify their treatment as abuse.

Sometimes it may even be a simple case of PoorCommunicationKills - sometimes the adults seem worthless because they aren't seeing it from ''the characters''' point of view. Or a combination of the above where the kids simply don't tell the adults so they don't know.

ParentalObliviousness and PoliceAreUseless are subtropes. An ObstructiveBureaucrat may show up, but it's not something the younger age group encounters often.

See also: TeenageWasteland, CompetenceZone, ParentExMachina, BestYearsOfYourLife, LazyHusband, BabysitterFromHell. For an inversion, see TeensAreMonsters.

Not to be confused with HumansAreBastards, which deals with ''everybody'' being violently like this.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Played with in ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex''. On the one hand, most adults shown are reasonably competent (or villains), and include police officers, teachers, and doctors. The problem is that Academy City consists of over ninety percent students, so there simply aren't enough adults to do everything. The primary police force isn't even made up of adults, but is the student-run Judgement organization (adults make up the SWAT-squad Anti Skill). Throw in the fact that all espers shown have been under twenty, and adults tend to get [[TheWorfEffect worfed]] a lot.
* All of the adults in ''Manga/ACruelGodReigns'' except for Lindon and Dr. Orson, who [[spoiler: dies of cancer.]] Greg is the cause of all of Jeremy's problems, Sandra needs taking care of by her son and not the other way around, Natasha [[spoiler: spots the abuse but doesn't say anything,]] the dorm leader moves Jeremy to a new dorm away from his only steady friend, Cass' parents are abusive alcoholics, the teacher at the alternative school tries but is ineffective at managing his trouble students, Jeremy's Aunt Karen banishes him after he [[spoiler: attempts suicide twice and attempts to seduce her husband]], etc, etc.
* ''Manga/AlienNine'' has a premise where all of the adults at an ''elementary'' school stay inside heavily armored rooms while sending ''their students'' to capture the ''aggressive aliens''.
** It didn't help that at least some of the adults, namely the teacher in charge of the school's alien catching group, and the principal, were deliberately useless as part of some sort of conspiracy. The rest of the adults were just useless. Yuri's mother is especially bad; Yuri comes home from an alien assault that is [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything awfully reminiscent of a rape]], and her mother just tells her to cheer up and do her job.
* In ''Manga/{{Beelzebub}}'', when Oga's mother hears he's in a gang war, her reaction is to just let him deal with it. [[TwoTeacherSchool The school only has two teachers]], the principal and the lunch lady, who both make a special effort to stay as uninvolved with the delinquents as possible.
* Used as a plot necessity in the Lost Children Arc in ''Manga/{{Berserk}}'' (even implied in the title). With the exception of Guts, every adult present is either a violent and sick pervert, a completely clueless moron, or a useless coward. Turns out that the BigBad of this arc is a teenaged girl apostle who turns the local children into her spawn to join her [[CrapSaccharineWorld elf fantasy land,]] all of them being very lethal, while she makes adults into spawn to use essentially as her own CannonFodder as punishment for treating children so poorly. Also, the village children who aren't turned into monsters seem more ballsy than the adults around them, namely [[PluckyGirl Jill.]]
* ''BibleBlack'' is probably the ultimate example. The teens who the story focus on are having sex everywhere, sometimes non-consensual, sometimes with teachers, and the only adults who seem to be around are Takashiro, who becomes a victim of this, and Kitami, who eggs it on and participates in it.
* In the manga ''Manga/{{BioMeat|Nectar}}'', nearly every bad decision concerning the outbreaks were made by adults. The only right decisions and almost every heroic act were done by children or the four main characters as adults.
* The mother of Hinako Aikawa in ''Manga/BitterVirgin'' is arguably ''worse'' than useless. Not only did she flat-out refuse to believe her new husband was molesting her daughter Hinako until Hinako's ''second'' pregnancy, she also made a point of hiding the ''first'' pregnancy from him so he wouldn't know "what a horrible kid" Hinako was. In fairness, when she finally ''did'' accept the truth, the first thing she did was chase said husband out of the house with a knife, and soon they moved away.
** Though she actually assumed that Hinako was making a FalseRapeAccusation against him and was actually just sleeping around. It wasn't until the doctor stated that from the bruises she wasn't a willing participant did she start to listen.
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}''. Averted. Although the hero and his main group of friends are teens, the adults in the story all get their roles and place in the story. Ichigo's not the protagonist because the adults are useless but because his lineage is something special.
* In ''Manga/BloodyMonday'' it seems that the only heroes capable of doing anything competent are high school students, from the legendary hacker Falcon to the master archer. In fact, [[spoiler:evil agent J is actually the twin(?) brother of said archer, and K turns out to be a student from the school's Newspaper Club.]]
* In ''Manga/{{Bokurano}}'', while only the contracted children can pilot the robot, they get some help from the Japanese Self-Defense Forces officers who came to help them after Komo told her father (a Diet member in the anime and an admiral in the manga) about it. Said individuals help the children to win their battles at times, [[spoiler:even if they ultimately never pilot themselves]], and Kanji once wonders if the government would rather have adults become the pilots instead. This is played straight, however, when [[spoiler:Tanaka and Seki are unable to prevent Kako from beating up Kirie, which results in Chizu stabbing Kaku, and, being unarmed, can't prevent Chizu from killing innocents in collateral damage as she uses Zearth's lasers to kill the men who raped her]].
* In ''Manga/CageOfEden'' the vast majority of the adults are incredibly ineffectual or worse, not helped by most of the male adults being a bunch of perverts. The only exceptions are Oomori and Kokonoe, the former having useful first aid skills, and the latter having made a few good explosives. The doctor is competent in his chosen position.
* The only competent adult presence in ''Anime/DennouCoil'', other than the main character's manipulative grandmother, turns out to be seventeen and still in high school.
* Zigzagged in ''Manga/DetectiveConan'', where many of the adults are okay at doing their jobs, but still worthless and the case is solved by the apparent six year old who, due to the identity problem and low credibility, needs to use an adult's voice to cover his detective antics.
** Zigzagged especially with Kogoro. He's shown to be a bumbling fool several episodes (Especially early on) and is an alcoholic and sometimes physically hurts Conan. However, averted because he actually ''does'' come to conclusions a lot of real life detectives would and actually knows some stuff Conan doesn't. (He's more street-smart; Conan's more Book-smart.) His biggest shortcoming is that he's competent, but impatient. He wants to get back to drinking, so he normally comes to a theory and keeps insisting he's right until proven otherwise. However, he averts this when [[ItsPersonal the case is personal]] or if [[PapaBear Ran or Conan are threatened]], then he becomes ''scarily'' competent. There have been several cases where he got it mostly right and just needed a couple hints from Conan, or where he got it all right but only realized it after Conan did. (He's slower.) There was one occasion where he ''did'' get it right, and another where he not only got it right, but got details that ''Conan'' missed.
** However, Shinichi's father Yuusaku is just as good a detective as he is, if not even ''better''. He's only useless because he's simply almost never there and he'd rather continue writing about mysteries than solving them.
** Ultimately averted, though, by the fact that Conan is almost an adult himself (he just LOOKS like a kid).
** If anything; Megure is perhaps the most worthless of the adults - he's so strictly adhered to police code that he refuses to take a leap of faith and think maybe not all cases are like the ones you learn about in the police academy.
** Also averted with a good deal of recurring characters like the members of the FBI and CIA [[spoiler:James Black, Jodie Starling, Shuichi Akai and Hidemi Hondo/Rena Mizunashi/Kir]]. There are a lot of members of the Black Organisation who are much smarter than Shinichi/Conan like Vermouth, Gin, Pisco or Irish (Movie 13). The Police also isn't completely useless, they are pretty competent at what they are doing, it is just that the cases shown are not solvable without thinking out of the box like Conan does. There are even police officers like Miwako Sato, Wataru Takagi, Kansuke Yamato and Yui Uehara who are able to solve a good chunk of many cases on their own. Heiji's father, chief commissioner of the Osaka Police Department Heizo Hattori, who in addition to being very smart is also an uber-badass.
* Being a series intended for kids, ''Franchise/{{Digimon}}'' tends to apply this; to which degree varies from series to series:
** ''Anime/DigimonAdventure'' played it straight; since no adult had a Digimon partner (even though some of them didn't ''[[BadassNormal need]]'' one), and only Digimon are powerful enough to fight another Digimon, it meant that parents had to watch their kids saving the world.
** ''Anime/DigimonAdventure02'' is even more straight about this, since even the adult villain was ultimately a puppet for the BigBad which the kids then had to defeat.
** ''Anime/DigimonTamers'' averts it, since even though adults still don't have Digimon partners, they are able to kill Digimon by other means, know a lot more about them than the kids, provide technical support and ultimately it's them that make it ''possible'' for the BigBad to be defeated.
** ''Anime/DigimonFrontier'' only has human adults in the backstory, and have the kids saving the world by themselves since all the Digimon (some of them "adults", so to speak) die at one point ([[DeathIsCheap even if not permanently]]), so it plays the trope very straight.
** ''Anime/DigimonSavers'' averts it, since humans [=manly/hotblooded=] enough can '''punch out''' skyscraper sized Digimon (by the tip of their weapons), adults can now have Digimon partners and nearly [[BigBad everything that went wrong]] is due to an [[Monster/{{Digimon}} sorry excuse for an human adult]].
** ''Anime/DigimonXrosWars'' plays it straight in a similar way to ''Frontier'', since the adults remain completely unaware that Digimon even exist.
* In ''The Manga/DriftingClassroom'', every adult in the school ends up dead or insane within the first few volumes.
* In ''Anime/{{FLCL}}'' most of the adults are more immature than the children in the story.
* In ''Manga/FruitsBasket'', virtually every adult is neglectful or outright abusive. As a child, Yuki is forced to stay with a person who verbally abuses him and his mother brushes his complaints off. Kyo is completely hated by his father, who does absolutely nothing to prevent him from [[spoiler:being locked up upon graduation]]. Akito's [[spoiler:father is dead and her mother outright hates her]]. Rin is abandoned by her parents, so they are unaware when she is [[spoiler:pushed out a window and locked up in a room]]. All of the older servants in the household allow Akito to act freely, because they feel that the [[spoiler:God of the Zodiac]] has the right to treat the Zodiac any way.
** Also, Kyoko's parents neglected her, and kicked her out of her house after [[spoiler:getting in a fight trying to quit her gang]]. Her father tells Katsuya that he's crazy when he tells him that he hopes to marry her.
** Subverted by Hanajima's family (who did everything they could to help her with her ESP, including transferring her to a new school when she was bullied) and Kyoko herself (who did such a good job raising Tohru that Tohru considered her words as lessons to get through life). Hiro's mother is loving, if ditzy, and Kagura's mom worries about her daughter's well-being (at one point, she discourages Kagura from attending an event that Akito will be at, implicitly fearing that Akito would hurt Kagura like Kisa was hurt). Zigzagged in the case of Kisa's mother. She failed to notice that her daughter was horrifically bullied at school and is upset with Kisa for not telling her about it, but then Tohru explains how the worst part of bullying is that the victim believes they're at fault and does their best to hide it from people who could help them. Kisa is then sent to live at Shigure's house for awhile so she and her mom can recover, but her mom calls often to see how Kisa's doing and make sure she's eating well.
* Completely subverted in ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'': the military personnel are far from incompetent. They are highly skilled, extremely intelligent, and almost as central to the plot as Ed and Al. If anything, the brothers thinking adults are useless gets them into a fair bit of extra trouble. In the end, Ed he can only succeed by trusting and accepting the help of the adults on his side, including his own absentee father.
** [[spoiler: When Edward and Alphonse Elric disobeyed a direct order from Major Armstrong to search the abandoned laboratory 5, refusing to wait for him to look into the matter deeper before going into the lab, second Lieutenant Maria Ross and Sergeant Denny Brosh slap and berate both of them on that, trying to do everything themselves, being just a child still and ends it with "...it's okay to trust adults sometimes." The slapping part with Al apparently didn't work since he's a suit of armor and all.]]
* ''Anime/FutureBoyConan'': Conan is an uber-capable 10~12 year old, capable of running roughshod over all the adults in the series. His female co-star Lanna is similarly, if not as capable.
* Straight up with ''Manga/GakuenOuji'' where none of the teachers notice the rape of the boys, the absurd bullying and just the general horridness of all of the students. The beatings... seriously, the amount of rape and general sexual abuse is ridiculous- in the corridors! First chapter somebody screams and the teacher doesn't care. Somebody screaming 'let me out' in a locked room, they put it down to a ghost and don't check.
* In the first arc of ''Anime/GingaHyouryuuVifam'' we have a bunch of children holed up in an abandoned military installation with some weapons, and elsewhere on the same planet we have the Terran military in a state-of-the-art underground facility. The children manage to beat back several enemy attacks, while the military base gets wiped out along with all personnel after just one.
* In ''Manga/GreatTeacherOnizuka'' (GTO), the only adult who seems to be competent at anything is Onizuka himself. He's only lucky.
** JustifiedTrope. The kids of the manga are actively fighting their teachers and other authority figures. It's hard to be useful to people who will completely ruin you just for trying. And it's not luck that lets Onizuka get through to them, it's the sheer fact that they are incapable of hurting, beating, embarrassing or otherwise driving him away.
** In the first episode, he outright says he wants to avoid this trope since he felt it firsthand.
--> "They just saw me as a delinquent. When someone keeps calling you useless you eventually believe it yourself. That's why I want to be there and help the kids be the best they can be.
* In ''LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya'', the only character over 20 who actually does anything is Future Mikuru (and it's questionable if she counts, as she's just an aged-up version of an existing teenaged character). Could be more of a case of ThereAreNoAdults[=/=]InvisibleParents also. The adults rarely impact that story, the only ones who appear are Future Mikuru and Koizumi's Organization minions (Arakawa, Mori, etc...who actually seem to be hyper-competent). The only ones who seem useless are the North High administration.
* Played pretty straight throughout in ''Manga/HighschoolOfTheDead''. With rare exceptions (like Saya's parents) anything an adult does makes the situation immediately worse.
** Shizaku is a [[ZigZaggedTrope zig-zagged]] case. When she was first introduced, she was very much TheLoad. Later on, she became TheMedic, but still had no fighting ability at all. [[BadassDriver And then she got behind the wheel...]]
* ''VisualNovel/HigurashiWhenTheyCry'' subverts this, [[spoiler:and it even serves as the solution to one of the arcs]].
* Teachers in ''Manga/IrisZero'' mostly [[BystanderSyndrome don't concern themselves with their students' problems]]. They claim it's impossible for [[{{Muggles}} a normal adult]] to comprehend things connected with [[MagicalEye Irises]]. It goes as far as ignoring an [[PowerNullifier event]] that leaves the student body in fear and Toru being heavily bullied due to his [[UnSorcerer lack of power]].
* ''Manga/LetsLagoon'': There's only one adult, he just washed up on the island and is probably injured, but he's pretty useless (and probably [[HotForStudent had a thing going on with the female castaway]]) which irritates the resourceful protagonist to no end.
** Turns out he didn't have a thing going on with the female castaway, but instead ''her sister''.
* Played in ''Manga/KenichiTheMightiestDisciple''. In most of Kenichi's fights his masters stand on the sidelines, even joking and gambling on the outcomes, even if his life is in danger. This is because they believe that a good master stays out of their disciple's fights. It's subverted to hell and back whenever Kenichi is attacked by a master-class or something: they'll step in and beat the life out of whoever attacked their disciple. However, it is played completely straight with the staff of Kenichi's high school, who seem completely unaware of the massive gang activity right under their noses, and his parents, who are oblivious that their son has a habit of getting into life-or-death battles with skilled martial artists from arround the world.
* ''Manga/{{Loveless}}'', oh so much so. Every adult is either abusive, ineffective, or emotionally fucked up enough to not be able to help, whether that's with Ritsuka being abused by his mother or all those 12 year old kids running around on their own getting into spell battles.
* In ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'', After the TrueCompanions went back in time to SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong, some of them went straight for help from the adults. After being heard, they were told to leave the rest to the grown-ups, to which WeaselMascot Chamo responded by saying "Tsk, tsk, tsk. You don't get it, principal. History has already proven that it's no good to leave things to you guys. You should leave things to us here." In the end, while they did help, it was the students who saved the day while the adults were useless (mostly because the BigBad had already developed countermeasures for them).
** There's also a number of aversions, as there ''were'' several useful adults around, but they all sat off to the side and watched. Later chapters see the adults actually getting involved a little more.
** Most adults, and atleast one of them is a BadassGrandpa, have proven to be anything but useless, what with saving Negi's behind after he was OHKO'ed by the incoming BigBad.
* In ''Anime/MaiHime'', most of the adults seem to have a very strong WeirdnessCensor in play, and the few that aren't are almost all tools of the AncientConspiracy.
** On the other hand, Midori is an adult and is arguably the great unsung hero of the series as well as being the most level headed of the [=HiME=] (despite first impressions to the contrary). Additionally, Natsuki's adult contacts provide her with a lot of useful information and one of them also bales her, Mai, and Mikoto out of some trouble they had managed to get themselves into. Furthermore, while most of the adults have little knowledge of what's going on around them, most of them seem to be quite competent within their own professional spheres (and it's also worth noting that the majority of the younger characters are rather in the dark about what's going on as well).
* ''Anime/MazingerZ'': Plays with it but subverts it. The weapon most powerful in the world is handed over to a teenager, and Dr. Hell and his servants (who are all adults) are unable defeat a bunch of teenagers... but neither Kouji nor Sayaka nor Shiro -nor Boss and his gang- would have been capable of protecting humankind and defeat Dr. Hell if they would not been supported by plenty adults. All workers in the Institute (starting with Prof. Yumi, who was a good scientist and strategist) were fully competent and without them Mazinger Z would have not got the frequent upgrades, repairs and maintenance it needed. This situation was repeated in the sequels: ''Anime/GreatMazinger'' and ''Anime/UFORoboGrendizer''.
* ''Manga/MyBrideIsAMermaid:'' Pretty much all the adults except for Masa and Ren are either incompetent or wildly apathetic.
* In ''Anime/NagiAsuALullInTheSea'', the adults of both the land and sea bicker so much like children that they are often rendered incapable of cooperating with each other on even important matters such as the Ofunehiki.
* Mostly averted in ''Manga/{{Naruto}}''. Throughout the first half of the series, the adults actually do most of the important, high-level fighting. Post-TimeSkip, where the "Rookies" begin carrying more of the weight, it's portrayed not as this trope, but as the new generation taking up the mantle of their predecessors. And even then, apart from Naruto and Sasuke, the strongest fighters in the series are still mostly adults.
* ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'' deconstructs this. [[spoiler:The reason why they're useless is because most of them are at least indirectly on SEELE's payroll, and it would be a Very Bad Idea for them to act as [[SpannerInTheWorks Spanners In The Works]] regarding [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt Instrumentality]].]]
** The eponymous Eva units are piloted primarily by children. [[spoiler:It's alluded to, but not clearly explained that this is linked to the Second Impact. They do state rather clearly, though, that they ''have'' to use children, although they seem a little bummed about it at first]]
*** [[spoiler:Having to use children has nothing to do with Second Impact. The neural link that controls the Evangelions specifically requires the emotional bond that exists between mother and child in order to function. [[MoralEventHorizon Each EVA actually has the soul of its pilot's mother stuck inside its core]]. This is less 'Adults are Useless' and more HumansAreBastards]]
* Haruka's mother in ''Literature/PsychicDetectiveYakumo'' does not put up any fight, protest, plea, when her daughter wants to walk into a potentially dangerous situation to rescue Yakumo.
* ''Manga/RosarioToVampire'': There are students and teachers who attempt to rape, murder, mind-control, or otherwise commit felony-grade crimes against our protagonists on what seems like a weekly basis; our protagonists, in turn, defend themselves, often with near-lethal force. In the rare event that authority figures appear or that punitive measures are taken against the offenders, it's almost laughably minimal. The teacher who turned students to stone as "art" and the math instructor who mind-controlled students to force them to study were put on suspension, nothing more. Meanwhile, our protagonists are practically knee-deep in the casualties they turn out from these often-brutal fights, and there appears to be little or no action taken against them, either. (Perhaps monsters just have a much more casual view of rape and murder, seeing as how many of them can apparently survive anything short of actual decapitation.)
* ''Manga/SatouKashiNoDanganWaUchinukenai'': Nagisa comes to this conclusion after talking with her teacher about her friend's [[AbusiveParents abusive father]].
--> '''Nagisa''': "''Adults act like heroes but all they really want is to control us children.''"
* ''VisualNovel/SchoolDays''. The only adult that appears is their homeroom teacher. And true to trope, what few interactions he has with the main characters is essentially telling them to shut up so he can get on with class.
* Averted in ''Manga/SoulEater'' as most of the adult characters are far more powerful than the teenaged main characters and [[BigDamnHeroes end up saving their lives at some points.]]
** Even once the kids are shown to have improved significantly, the adults are still around being not-useless. For example they're acting in the background during the Baba Yaga arc, and now during this new storyline; Yumi with Kirikou's group, Tezcatlipoca disrupting Black Star's fight with Crona.
** 'Salvage' has a group of them heading for Noah in the real world, as Spartoi hunt for Kid within the Book. Shinigami's not relying purely on the kids, it seems.
*** Although this is a bad example since the entire adult squad gets [[TheWorfEffect worfed]] in just a few panels.
**** Sadly true. It wasn't, technically, when the example was written.
* The grown-ups in ''Anime/TamakoMarket'' act very over-the-top, and are pretty gullible, while all the teenagers are wiser.
* ''LightNovel/TokyoRavens'': Averted. The adults are not only competent, but play almost as active a role in the plot as the main cast. Their experience also makes them [[CombatPragmatist Combat Pragmatists]].
* ''Anime/YuGiOhGX'': {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d in Season 3, usually by Asuka and Kenzan, as the kids easily resign themselves to the fact that the adults have fallen apart and it's up to them to take charge. Principal Sameshima might also be a {{Deconstruction}}, since from the start, having to repeatedly burden teenagers with the responsibility of saving the world truly causes him a great deal of guilt and inner-turmoil.
* ''SwordArtOnline'', the games get jacked by the villains to make it giant battle royales. No adult outside the game's context is seen doing much to solve the problems. The government and medical people are only there to [[MrExposition give expositions]]. Good adults ingame are either [[ButtMonkey Butt Monkeys]] or minor characters. Parents are painted as negative. Other people are either mean, manipulative, or downright evil. At the end of the day, the lives of more than 10,000 people are saved by one or two teenagers who are really good at MMORPG.

* In Marvel's ''Comicbook/{{Runaways}}'', the teen heroes don't trust any of the adult characters, even Comicbook/CaptainAmerica. ''ComicBook/CivilWar'' only cements their "Adults are tools" mentality.
** Comicbook/CloakAndDagger nearly subvert this, by finding out what's really going on in Los Angeles and telling the kids that they'll get in contact with Captain America and send him to take out the Pride. [[spoiler:Unfortunately, they are caught and brainwashed by Molly's parents into forgetting everything]].
** Franchise/SpiderMan's cameo also subverts it, to a degree.
** Parodied when the Runaways show up at Comicbook/AvengersAcademy. Chase goes off on a defensive tirade about how adults are always meddling in the Runaways' business... before sheepishly admitting that he actually needs the Avengers' help in retrieving Old Lace. That arc also finally put an end to the Runaways' abuse of this trope; after a pointless fight breaks out between the Runaways and the Avengers, Nico breaks it up with a spell that magically forces both sides to see each other's viewpoints, and the Runaways realize that their longstanding distrust of adults has left them with some disadvantages. They ultimately decide that adults don't suck as much as they thought.
* The ''Comicbook/UltimateSpiderMan'' series by Creator/BrianMichaelBendis puts a big emphasis on Peter Parker being a teenager, and hanging out with his teenage friends. The other books of the ''UltimateMarvel'' line also retool every other major Marvel hero as an asshole ([[DarkerAndEdgier because that's way edgier]]). This can lead to plenty of times when Peter risks his neck for his heroes only to find they don't share his ideals or views of responsibility, and are often ungrateful for his efforts. While the Adults aren't exactly useless, Spidey has good reason to be pissed off whenever he deals with them.
** Even Comicbook/NickFury can often make stupid decisions that come back to haunt Peter, like building the Spider-Slayers or locking up supervillains without trial. Peter even once got beaten up by Daredevil for attempting to help him in a fight and yelled at for being too young. Really, binging on the Ultimate Spider-Man books really makes you realize just how many people are dicks in the Ultimate Universe.
*** When you think about it, you have to feel really bad for the guy. The entire series takes place over only 6 months, and he's still just a high schooler who's in way over his head. And he can't get help from the super-hero community, because they're ALL JERKS. There is not a single super-hero who was kind or supportive to him except maybe for three X-Men and the Fantastic Four, and they're the same age he is. Kitty even got kicked out of the X-Men when she insisted they go help him.
*** Peter even lampshades this in one exchange with a teacher at his high school; he questions why the Kingpin (a known crime lord) is allowed to walk free, she gives a pat answer about due process and such, and he explodes, asking whether people's idealism somehow disappears the moment they turn twenty.
* ''ComicBook/TheAdventuresOfBarryWeenBoyGenius'' tends to fall into this pattern. When adults aren't outright antagonists, they're either clueless or helpless. Justified in that since Barry is a "boy genius," he's naturally the smartest person in the room all the time.
* Aversion: The adults in ''Comicbook/GladstonesSchoolForWorldConquerors'' are typically famous super villains and are quite important to the plot.
* In ''Comicbook/TheBeano'' the adults and teachers never seem to be able to prevent their kids from misbehaving. In older strips they would whack their kids with slippers or a cane but now it seems the kids never seem to get much in the way of a punishment apart from making their parents really angry.
* Averted in ''ComicBook/SuperDinosaur'' where the adults perform important support roles if they aren't directly in the action. The Kingstons repair SD's armor while Dr. Dynamo creates valuable new technology.
* Justified in the second volume of ''ComicBook/YoungAvengers'' - [[BigBad Mother]] is a transdimensional parasite, who feeds on kids and teenagers with {{reality warp|er}}ing superpowers and one of her abilities is to hide her existence from adults, so they won't belive their kids telling them about her and won't notice her activities, even as they're happening in front of them. Worse, if you're a parent, the first person a kid targeted by her would come to, she can turn you into her brainwashed minion. And if your parents are dead, she will bring them back as her minions [[spoiler: through they cannot get too far away from the place of their death]].
* Webcomic/{{Dreamkeepers}}: Mostly played straight as an arrow in Prelude, especially when Mace and Whip are the focus. Averted in the graphic novels, with several competent adults in the story.
** Although Mr. Nibbs plays it straight in the novels as well.
* In ''Comicbook/SexCriminals'', middle-school girl Suzie tries to find out what happens when someone has an orgasm. She turns first to a gynecologist and than her mom. Neither are any help.
* In ''ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}'', it was just as well that adults were never fully seen, because the rare situations where the main characters had to interact with them portrayed them as ''incompetent''. In one story arc, Charlie Brown went to talk to his pediatrician to find out why the school board (which the doctor was a member of) had banned a book called ''The Three Bunny Wunnies Freak Out'' from the school library. The doctor ''fainted''. The nurse later told Charlie Brown that ''little kids made him nervous''. (Remember, this was a ''pediatrician''.) Later, Charlie Brown told Linus that the doctor admitted that he only reads medical journals, but the pictures upset him.
** Another story arc shows that Peppermint Patty's teacher is a LawfulStupid type. A hole in the ceiling classroom was causing rain to fall on Patty's head. According to Marcie, the teacher couldn't move Patty to another desk, because that would disrupt the alphabetical seating arrangement.
* {{Justified| Trope}} in ''ComicBook/LockeAndKey'' - similar to ''Literature/PeterPan'', children are the only ones who can believe in magic. Adults might see it, but they wouldn't quite process it as being abnormal. If fact, once the children hit 18, they forget everything to do with magic, meaning the Locke siblings are more or less on their own when all hell quite literally breaks loose. This is averted in more mundane situations, where adults are shown to be anything but useless. Like in issue 1, when Nina kills a psycho [[AnAxeToGrind with a hatchet]] for [[MamaBear threatening her son]].
* ''ComicBook/MyFriendDahmer'' presents a tragic RealLife example. No adult during [[SerialKiller Jeffrey Dahmer]]'s formative years noticed his mounting psychological problems. His parents are too consumed with their marital strife and both eventually abandon him. His teachers are either clueless or indifferent to his binge drinking at school. His classmate-turned-biographer, Derf Backderf, links the lack of attention from adults to Dahmer's obsessive drive to find the perfect victim who would never leave him, resulting in his grisly killing spree.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* Parodied in Episode 3 of GagDub ''WebVideo/YuGiOhTheAbridgedSeries'' by, of all people, Tristan -- "Don't our parents even care that we're missing?"
* ''Fanfic/ShiningPrettyCure''. The only adult who even ''suspects'' something might be going on is Ren, the friendly owner of the neighbourhood cafe.
* In ''Fanfic/AlexandraQuick'', this is [[ZigZaggingTrope zig-zagged]]. The adults do attempt to help, but many refuse to believe Alex when she warns them or tells them what's happening, and often she ends up taking action because she can't see any sign that the adults aren't being useless.
* Lampshaded and then averted in ''Fanfic/FutariWaPrettyCureBlueMoon''. Dawn''/''[[spoiler:Ogata Kirei''/''Cure Dawn]] notes that she's supposed to leave fighting evil to the thirteen-year-old title characters [[spoiler:because she's without her powers]], but doesn't seem to be very happy about it. Near the end of the series, she becomes an active combatant.
* Stephen Ratliff's [[FanFic/MarissaPicard Marissa Star Trek universe]] is notorious for this. In order for Marissa's "kids crew" to be great, every adult they come up against has to be a bumbling imbecile. In one episode, the Maquis even invented a drug that knocked out everyone over the age of 15.
* In ''Fanfic/KyonBigDamnHero'', Kyon's parents are like this. Other adults are, fortunately, far more useful.
* A major topic of discussion in ''FanFic/HarryPotterAndTheMethodsOfRationality'', with Harry frequently telling others how adults who do not treat him as an equal are obstacles to be dodged or manipulated (including those very adults).
* The adults in ''Fanfic/OhGodNotAgain'' are more useless than usual, but mainly because, unlike Literature/{{Harry|Potter}}, they don't have knowledge [[PeggySue from the future]], so you can hardly blame them for being behind. Harry does sometimes get them involved on purpose when they can help, such as going straight to Dumbledore when Hagrid gets Norbert.
* From Creator/{{Swing123}} and Creator/{{garfieldodie}}'s [[Fanfic/TheCalvinverse Calvinverse]] fics:
** The former author's ''Fanfic/CalvinAndHobbesIIIDoubleTrouble'' has an author's note that lampshades this:
--> ''No, The town won't save Calvin. They'll be worthless. Worthless to the end.''
** The latter author's ''Fanfic/AttackOfTheTeacherCreature'' does the same in a narrative aside.
--> ''They really are idiots, aren't they?''
** Adults in ''Fanfic/CalvinAndHobbesTheSeries'' are, at the very least, [[WeirdnessCensor very unobservant.]]
* The counselors in ''Fanfic/CalvinAtCamp'' let the kids get away with ''anything,'' aside from actually leaving.
* Unusually for a story about runaway orphans, this trope is strongly averted in the WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic fan fiction ''Fanfic/OurTrueColors''. Here the adults catch on to the true state of affairs quickly and are working behind the scenes to help resolve things.
* Averted in [[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9030904/1/Yu-Gi-Oh-GSTART Yu-Gi-Oh! GSTART]]: All adults seen so far are competent and helpful individuals who take the odd goings-on quite seriously.
* In ''[[FanFic/CodeHalfDemon Code: Half Demon]]'', this trope is currently in full swing of this trope. It is a crossover with ''WesternAnimation/CodeLyoko'' so this is expected.
* Played straight in ''FanFic/LikePinningButterflies'', where the adults are all too happy to overlook murder, arson and kidnapping for the sake of a quiet life.
* In ''FanFic/SwingingPendulum'' the instructors at Shin'hou Academy never help Asuka with her coursework and ignore her when she's bullied. Her cousin, Kyouraku Shinsui tried to intervene, but it gave the impression that Asuka was coasting on her family name.
* Constantly averted in ''Sailor Moon: Legends of Lightstorm'', where the two main adults are shown to be extremely competent. The escalating threat of the Negaverse leads Luna to take Serena to the titular Lightstorm for training in ''The Celestial Renegade''. Though he has lost his powers, Lightstorm proves intelligent enough to build weapons and other devices infused with "Moon Kingdom science" out of common human materials and technology, such as grapple gauntlets that automatically adjust to whatever surface he latches onto with them. His prowess in combat makes him one of the deadliest characters in the series, and the Sailor Scouts are shown to train under him constantly. The other main adult, Tuxedo Mask, appears to be far stronger than in most other incarnations. His razor roses have been seen to slice through material as tough as Negaverse drone armor, his strength has increased significantly, he constantly gets into the middle of battles to fight back-to-back with Sailor Moon, and his durability is high enough to withstand an exploding subway while shielding another person.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* Both used and subverted in ''WesternAnimation/{{Coraline}}''. Coraline's parents didn't do much. But Bobinsky gave Coraline a subtle warning and Spink and Forcible also warned her that she was in terrible danger. And at the end, [[spoiler: Spink and Forcible gave Coraline an important item to help her find the eyes of the ghost children.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyEquestriaGirls'', true to ''any'' HighSchool themed work, zig-zags, but it zags a lot more. Celestia and Luna can be reasonable authority figures when given the right evidence... except that during the climax, they're pretty much nowhere to be found, along with the rest of the school staff (Apart from the lunch lady.)
** They are certainly friendly and caring, but the Useless part comes from them being oblivious to a single student ruling the school for years by terrorizing all the other students, and Luna being easily fooled by falsified evidence in a scene pretty much designed to give credibility to the SatelliteLoveInterest. [[TheScrappy Who was not well received by the fandom]].
** In the sequel ''Rainbow Rocks'' they are almost immediately brainwashed by the Dazzlings, ensuring that the Rainbooms have to solve the problem on their own.
* The entire town in ''WesternAnimation/TheBoxtrolls'' really but a special mention should go to Lord Portley-Rind, if it's not about cheese, he has absolutely no interest.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheLandBeforeTime III''. Not long after a meteor storm, the Great Valley's main water supply, a river running down from beyond the wall, mysteriously dries up. Rather than say, investigating the river's source (they could have sent fliers if they were worried about carnivores), the adults decide to wait in the valley and hope the water returns. In the meantime, water is running low, tempers are running high and all the food is quickly dying off. In the end, it's the children who accidentally find out that the water was blocked off and the adults can't agree on a plan of action and guess what? The children save the day! Again! By accident! Again!
** This is a ''very'' common occurrence throughout the series. None of the adults want to risk personal safety going out into the Mysterious Beyond for ''any'' reason whatsoever, leaving the children to do everything themselves.
*** In the 4th film, where Littlefoot's grandmother (who had been willing before to leave and search for a flower with healing properties) and the mother of a new character not only fail to go after their runaway children but don't even seem worried or concerned that the kids are gone.
* Played straight and averted in ''WesternAnimation/TheChristmasTree''. Judy's a decent person, if a bit dim, and genuinely cares for the children. The mayor, however, doesn't seem to have the slightest inkling that anything is amiss at the OrphanageOfFear, and is perfectly willing to fork over large sums of cash to [[BigBad Mrs. Mavilda]] without much question.

[[folder:Films -- Live Action]]
* ''Franchise/ANightmareOnElmStreet'':
** The first ''Film/ANightmareOnElmStreet1984''. Nancy's mother helped start the whole thing, her father doesn't do anything and the rest of the police only hinder her or ignore her frantic cries for help.
** The sequels more or less follow suit, but there's a bizarre subversion in ''Film/FreddyVsJason''. It turns out that [[ClapYourHandsIfYouBelieve the more people are aware and afraid of Freddy (these two usually go hand by hand) the more powerful he becomes]]. Hence when the adults really got down to it they effectively eliminated the threat by erasing all written notions of Freddy, banning his name or any details from mentioning and submitting those kids who still remembered about him to a dream-depriving drug treatment. He did eventually find a loophole but still they did their best.
%%* Every single ''Creator/JohnHughes'' film.
* ''Film/BattleRoyale''. Not only does the government allow the capture of entire classrooms of children, but they allow putting them on an island, giving them deadly weapons, and telling them to go kill each other, last one alive wins and is free to go. On top of that, the parents never even TRY to save their children from being murdered, and instead the entire country (or possibly even the world) allows it to happen, waiting for the competition to end and see the winner.
** In the original novel, most parents, upon hearing their children have become part of the Program, merely resign themselves. Those who ''do'' resist are gunned down.
*** This is true in both the manga and novel; the first chapter of the book hints it, and the manga integrates it into at least one character's back story.
* Played straight when the kids in ''Film/BradleysSummer'' stop a terrorist plot, and then decide to chase the terrorists after they'd become kidnappers, the adults are all like "Good luck!" and do nothing to try to help the kids or let the cops handle it. Subverted later on however, when one of the adults actually does do something useful: knock out one of the terrorists while he's holding a gun to the kids.
* The three children in ''Film/HocusPocus'' try to inform adults and enlist their help against the witches. It always fails. It doesn't help that the witches turn around Max's attempted warnings to their advantage (they pretend that he's giving them an introduction and give a musical act [[note]][[WebVideo/TheNostalgiaChick "Oh no, she's singing from a distance!"]][[/note]]) or the fact that they enchant a large number of adults to "dance until [they] die". Then there's the fact that the ''the witches have come back from the grave'' prank has probably been played a million times in that town given the local notoriety of the events surrounding said witches.
* ''Film/{{Joshua}}'''s only use for adults is to be pawns in his [[TheChessMaster plan]].
* ''Film/{{Matilda}}'' is full of this. Not a single student at Crunchem Hall manages to convince their parents that Ms. Trunchbull is abusive towards everyone. This is explained in the books, that the Trunchbull [[RefugeInAudacity uses such extreme punishments that no parent would possibly believe them.]] It's also mentioned that Trunchbull treats the parents the same way she treats the kids.
* In ''Film/{{Mikey}}'' the only characters that seem to display any common sense about Mikey's behavior are his teacher and Jessie.
* ''Film/MysteryTeam''. The main characters insist that they're more suited to solve the case than THE POLICE.
* ''Film/SkyHigh'' has the Commander and Jetstream as the only competent heroes shown in work, but [[DeusExitMachina they are taken down in seconds]] by the villain in the final. Principal Powers is only seen putting students in detention. Anything worthwhile is done by adolescents. Even the villains are all young. Sort of. (Except Stitches, but he's basically controlled by Royal Pain anyway.)
* ''Film/TheGoodSon'' has Elijah Wood's character trying to tell the adults what a monster his cousin is, but nobody believes him.
* [[TheFamilyForTheWholeFamily The Fratellis]] in ''Film/TheGoonies'' suffer this from time to time in their confrontations with the Goonies. They seem to be able to handle the cops (and Feds) just fine, but they can't quite handle a bunch of teenagers.
* Part of the charm of ''Film/TheLittleRascals'' film series was that the kids would regularly (and unintentionally) teach the adults a lesson.
* This was subverted in the 2010 remake of ''Film/TheKarateKid''. Mr Han trained Dre for the tournament. Dre's mother supported him and would have [[MamaBear beat the snot]] out of the kids who messed with her son, if she knew who they were. And the school principal sent both Dre and Cheng out after Cheng purposely tripped Dre, not favoring one side over the other. And she kept an eye out for Dre on the school trip, indirectly preventing Cheng from bullying him. The original plays it straight and subverts it. On one hand, Mr. Miyagi is there to stop the fighting between Daniel and Johnny. On the other hand, the kids' parents do nothing at all to prevent the fights. Daniel's mom provides moral support for her son, but doesn't do much. Ali's parents shrug off the fighting like it is nothing. Johnny's parents don't even appear in the film.
* ''Film/TheLostBoys'' has a group of 12-year-old vampire hunters attempting (and at one point succeeding) to kill the group of teenage vampires. In fact all the main characters are younger than 20 with the adults being unaware until the big reveal at the end where one character displays he knew what was going on all along. Even then, he doesn't know everything that was going on, although he immediately knows that his house has just been destroyed in a vampire attack. That his daughter was dating a master vampire appears to have been completely unknown to him.
* ''Film/TheNightOfTheHunter'': Rachel Cooper, the foster mother who takes in the Harper children, is the only adult in the film who is immune to [[ManipulativeBastard Harry Powell's]] charms. Uncle Birdie does put in an effort, but after [[spoiler: he discovers the mother's body he apparently doesn't report it because as the town eccentric/drunk he fears people will blame him.]]
* In the Hallmark Channel made-for-TV movie ''The Santa Incident'', Santa has to rely on the help of a couple of kids. Most of the other adults are Homeland Security goons who mistake him for a terrorist.
* ''Film/TheSocialNetwork''. Granted the main characters aren't small children, but all the adults they go to for help simply blow them off - Prince Albert, the lawyers (one can almost forgive Mark for his {{Jerkass}} behavious towards them) and most of all the Harvard president Larry Summers.
* The main character in ''Literature/TheTinDrum'' realizes this and refuses to age past 3 years old. This means that he eventually becomes a chronological adult but remains a SpoiledBrat of a child.
* In ''Film/TheWayWayBack,'' lonely teenager Duncan is ignored by his mother, Pam, who seems only concerned about pleasing Trent, her overbearing boyfriend. Pam doesn't notice Trent saying horrible things to her son until the end of the movie. Trent, Pam and their neighbor also smoke pot and ignore their teens when they get stoned. Averted with Owen, the water park employee who notices Duncan is unhappy and lonely and becomes a friend to him.
* This was probably the single worst thing about the 2004 ''Film/{{Thunderbirds}}'' movie, which shoved most of International Rescue out of the way to leave the plot to the KidAppealCharacter Alan Tracy, Brains' [[GenerationXerox son]], and Tin Tin (all of whom are pre-teens). Yeeah.
* In the first ''Film/{{Transformers}}'' movie, much of the first tier of authority that Sam Witwicky encounters regarding the title being is best summed up by his disbelieving question of a police officer, "Are you on drugs?!" This only applies to the ''civilian'' adults. Those involved in the military usually perform rather well considering the circumstances, even if it's not always the best actions to take.
* In ''Film/WarGames'', two teenagers are the only people who seem to be willing and able to avert nuclear holocaust, while parents, four-star generals and nuclear scientists act befuddled or indifferent.
* In Film/WhatWeDidOnOurHoliday the children end up honouring their granddad's wishes and [[spoiler: giving him a Viking funeral after he dies on the beach]] because the adults are too busy getting ready for a party and arguing for them to be able to tell them what has happened


* In the ''Literature/AdventuresOfHuckleberryFinn'', with the exception of Jim, every adult that Huck meets is some kind of murderer, thief, charlatan, liar or phony. One of the points of the novel is the irony all those people like that looking down on a decent human being like Jim because he's black.
* Largely played straight in the ''Literature/AhrimanTrilogy''. Of the various adults, only Cleon ends up not being useless.
* ''Literature/{{Aimee}}'' by Mary Beth Miller: Almost all of the adults in the book are/were useless. The most egregious example is Aimee's family: Her dad was a crazy [[TheFundamentalist fundamentalist]] preacher, her real mom was a drunk and a player, and her step mom was abusive [[spoiler: in more ways than just hitting]]. You get the picture.
* Justified in ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' as many of the protagonists don't want to risk the lives of others and they also know there are few they can actually trust due to alien infestations. This is occasionally subverted however.
** Played straight in book 50, when Marco says that they can't work with adults because adults are too reality bound, and could never believe that they were actually fighting aliens.
*** And then there was that Trekkie . . .
** Eventually fully averted once they find adults they can trust not to be infested. This ends in them getting the support of the government and becoming much more effective.
* With the exception of the Snicket siblings, nearly every adult in ''Literature/ASeriesOfUnfortunateEvents'' is outrageously stupid, and often cruel. Even the adults who genuinely want to help the Baudelaires fail them at a crucial moment due to their fears or strange philosophy.
** (This is referenced, at least, in ''Lemony Snicket -- The Unauthorized Autobiography'', in which it is revealed that the supposedly volunteer organization V.F.D. kidnaps small children to join its ranks.)
** "Mr. Poe meant well, but a jar of mustard probably also means well and would do a better job of keeping the Beaudelaires out of danger."
* One of Holden Caufield's schoolmates is bullied to death by his classmates in ''CatcherInTheRye'' and teachers do absolutely nothing.
* In the ''Literature/CircleOfMagic'' series, adults tend to be useful, excepting ''Street Magic''. When Briar attempts to get stone mage Jebilu Stoneslicer to teach Evvy, Stoneslicer proves himself to be selfish and useless- he tells Briar to take Evvy away from Chammur and to send her to Winding Circle. He then proceeds to make a number of assumptions about Evvy based solely on the fact that she is a poor orphan, and tells Briar that she will never get anywhere because of that. He does agree to teach her only after Rosethorn talks to him, and is later revealed to be the worst possible teacher for Evvy. Plus the scene when Briar is questioned by the mutabir, or leader of Chammur- Briar repeatedly suggests possible crimes to charge Lady Zenadia with, only to be informed that she is too high in rank to be bothered with such charges, and like Stoneslicer, the mutabir dismisses the teenage gang, the Vipers, and Evvy as poor people of no real value, and not worth helping.
* In the kids' book ''Class Three All At Sea'', the kids get captured by pirates on a school trip. Where's the teacher while this is going on? ''Making out with one of the pirates''. Seriously.
* Subverted in the children's book ''Chrysanthemum.'' Chrysanthemum's teacher is completely oblivious to the fact that Victoria and her GirlPosse are making fun of her for being named after a flower, but it's her ''music'' teacher who gets them to stop.
* In Creator/RobinMcKinley's ''Literature/{{Deerskin}}'', a novel in which a king takes a rather [[ParentalIncest unhealthy interest in his daughter]], several adults notice this but neither do or say a thing to help her even when he announces he plans to marry her, because their king is above reproach. This does not end well.
* To an extent in the ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' Tiffany Aching subseries: In ''Discworld/TheWeeFreeMen'' Tiff's parents and older sisters are too preoccupied to notice things, and the Baron is a well-meaning idiot. In the later ones, her parents don't know how to deal with a daughter who's a witch; the villagers automatically expect someone in a pointy hat to be able to cope with anything; and most of the adult witches have their own peculiarities that stop them being any real help. (Ms Tick is so schoolteachery that she doesn't always look at things properly; Miss Level is a bit selves-conscious and doesn't cope well with the unexpected; Miss Treason is ruthlessly judgemental [[spoiler: and, for most of ''Discworld/{{Wintersmith}}'', dead]]. Granny Weatherwax is awesome, but she's a SinkOrSwimMentor who refuses to let Tiffany rely on her.)
* Literature/EmilyTheStrangeTheLostDays: a thirteen-year-old girl who has amnesia is alone in a small town and lives in a refrigerator box behind a diner. Why should anyone care?
** [[spoiler: Molly's]] parents are worse. They are raising a [[FreeRangeChildren free-range child]] and when a girl looking like their dauighter, just with amnesia runs away from them, the mother just writes to her to wish her luck.
* In ''Literature/{{GONE}}'' they're not even '''THERE'''.
* Every ''Literature/{{Goosebumps}}'' book. There's a reason Blog/BloggerBeware has a "Questionable Parenting" section for each story. Yes, some arguably have the excuse of magic hiding what's going on, but some cases are just silly.
** For example, in ''Say Cheese and Die...Again'', the narrator is cursed to continually gain weight, putting on more than three hundred pounds in one day, and his parents chalk it up to an allergy attack and leave him to just go to school as normal the next day. Even though he can't fit in their car. Meanwhile, his friend was cursed to continue to lose weight until she looks like "a stick with a lemon on the top", and again is just sent to school as normal.
** ''Chicken Chicken'' (book #53 of the original series) is even worse. It's painfully obvious that Crystal and Cole are turning into chickens (what with their feathers appearing and their lips turning hard and beak-like) and the parents ''DO NOTHING''. To make matters worse, they're preparing chicken for a barbecue in front of their affected kids ''and'' they laugh at Crystal and Cole when they start acting like chickens during the barbecue.
* The Literature/GreenSkyTrilogy has a lot of this. Raamo and his friends (considered young adults at 13) are members of a caste that actually shuts out family, so after meeting Raamo's parents in some detail at the beginning of Book One, they drop out of sight except for rare glimpses. Neither they nor Teera's parents are important to the plot. They cannot be confided in or help with the vastly important goings-on. On the other hand, the elderly priestess D'ol Falla is a central figure, and Genaa's dad contributes to Book Three.
* In ''Literature/GreekNinja'' it's a group of teenagers running around trying to save the day.
* Subverted in the ''Literature/GreyGriffins'' series. Adults save the kids' asses a lot. Adults are pretty powerful, in fact, on both the hero and villain side of things. The number of important adult characters looking out for the {{Kid Hero}}es is in fact a plot point, as the main character is rich and has a bodyguard with some magical friends.
* This happens constantly in ''Literature/HarryPotter''. On the other hand, it is also occasionally averted and subverted, particularly in the massive battle near the end of the last book:
-->"We shall secure the school against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named while you search for this -- this object."\\
"Is that possible?"\\
"I think so," said Professor [=McGonagall=] dryly, "we teachers are rather good at magic, you know."
** It is lightly implied that Dumbledore does this intentionally in order to train Harry without the latter being aware of it, especially in the first book. And, when the adults actually do do something, it tends to be pretty spectacular- the Battle in the Atrium and the Inferi cave, in particular.
** Played straightest in ''Goblet.'' Several powerful wizards vow to find out how Harry's name got into the cup, and apparently find out ''nothing'' over the course of a school year. (The fact that one of those wizards is actually behind it all merely highlights that the others never noticed anything even though he was circumstantially a prime suspect.)
* Creator/StephenKing's ''Literature/{{IT}}'', the children in the Loser's Club are the only ones who know what's really going on in Derry. The adults are ineffectual and many of the Losers have troubled home lives: Beverly Marsh's father is [[AbusiveParents physically abusive]], Eddie Kaspbrak's mother is [[MyBelovedSmother neurotic and smothering]] and Bill Denbrough's parents spend all of their time grieving for their younger son George and ignoring Bill.
** The book {{lampshade|Hanging}}s this at one point, when a character comments that the adults who ''do'' care become (however vaguely) aware that Derry is a TownWithADarkSecret and move away.
** There are several hints that It has placed some kind of subtle but strong "look the other way" effect on the town, so that something ''really'' out of the ordinary has to happen before an adult can really notice it.
* Every single adult in the book ''Little Chicago,'' save for a doctor and nurse at the start (and the protagonist's barely-adult sister) are ''horribly'' useless. After the eleven-year-old protagonist, Blacky, is molested by a family friend, he sees a social worker about it and the molester is put in jail. But after that, his mother is a neglectful woman who's almost constantly in a daze, stopped taking prescribed medicine for vanity purposes, and brought a drunk man home--and she doesn't really seem to care that Blacky was molested. Rather, she visits the man in prison and actually brings Blacky a letter he'd written for him (which had sexual harassment in it). The teachers and principal at school don't notice or do anything about Blacky being bullied, despite the teacher even witnessing some of it in her classroom. When Blacky is called to the principal's office, it's on behalf of the bullies, who claim Blacky is disturbing them, rather than the other way around. Then the social worker comes to Blacky's house, sees the horrible shape the home is in and how out of it his mom is, ''and doesn't do anything about it.''
* Justified in ''Literature/LockwoodAndCo'' because the Talent to see ghosts disappears when children and teenagers enter adulthood. Adults are usually stuck in supervising and support roles.
* Most of the adults in ''Literature/LosingChristina'' [[CassandraTruth don't believe Christina]] about her two SadistTeachers that are mentally deconstructing her.
* Played with in ''Literature/{{Matilda}}''. None of the teachers at Crunchem Hall challenge The Trunchbull because they are absolutely terrified of her. It is eventually discovered that Miss Honey's fears of her are particularly justified. Not a single student manages to convince their parents that The Chokey exists. It's sort of justified by Matilda's theory that the various punishments from The Trunchbull are so over-the-top that the parents simply don't believe it. It's also likely to be Dahl's commentary on the boarding schools he himself attended as a child.
* In ''Literature/SavingTheWorldAndOtherExtremeSports'', one of the characters starts a child uprising against adults. Naturally, there's no such thing as a web-faring adult to also support/argue the issues, and the adults really are responsible for it all. After all, ''every'' adult so far in the series is evil, no matter how long they spend being friendly to begin with, except Valencia Martinez, who is fairly useful and kind. [[note]]Although admittedly, [[spoiler:she did apparently allow her daughter to be made into an avian-human hybrid, but she does say that she was locked out of the project against her will. Possibly if she hadn't been, things might have turned out a little better]])[[/note]]
* In ''Literature/NorthangerAbbey'', Mrs. Allen fails to do her job when it comes to advising Catherine on etiquette. Enough so, in fact, that Catherine finally complains that she's being left dangerously to her own devices.
* {{Justified|Trope}} in the works of Creator/OrsonScottCard.
** When one of the teenagers asks the oversoul why no one in the older generation is standing up to Elemak's tyranny in ''Earthfall'', it explains that they don't dare while he's holding their children hostage. The children being held are free to act (apart from being locked up).
** In ''Literature/EndersGame'', the adults don't intervene when several students conspire to attack Ender, so he'll be forced to deal with it himself and not rely on anybody helping him.
** In ''Shadow of the Hegemon'', Ender's mom reveals that they knew all along about Peter and Valentine's online personas but decided not to interfere. They read everything Peter publishes and then pretend not to know anything about international politics. They also were smart enough to know that trying to teach religion to a child after infancy is pointless.
* The parents in M.T. Anderson's ''Pals in Peril'' series.
* In Rick Riordan's ''Literature/PercyJacksonAndTheOlympians'' series, there is a rather surprising lack of adult half-bloods. In fact, only one has been seen so far. Granted, this is somewhat subverted in that there ARE useful adults, they just don't have mystical magical powers.
** The implication being that most of the half-bloods are killed off by various monsters before they reach full adulthood, as Quintus pointed out.
*** However, there ''have'' been some mentions of a few historical figures (who reached adulthood) being half-blood as well. Such as Harriet Tubman, daughter of Hermes.
*** ''A few?''
*** Chiron has a wall full of photographs of successful adult Half-Bloods.
** ''Literature/TheHeroesOfOlympus averts this for the Roman Camp with a whole city of adult Veterans and others out in the real world who will help questors on request.
* In ''Literature/PleaseDontTellMyParentsImASupervillain'', it's not so much that the adults are useless, it's more that almost no one in either the hero or villain community takes The Inscrutable Machine seriously. It takes them breaking into Mech's home and trashing his PoweredArmor to establish themselves as something other than children playing a game.
* In ''[[Literature/RachelGriffin The Unexpected Enlightement of Rachel Griffin]]'', the teachers of the AcademyOfAdventure are good at helping deal with bullies, but not with invisible vampire-wraiths after curfew. [[spoiler: And at least one of them is evil.]] Summed up in this quote from one senior student:
--> "Someone please fetch one of the ''competent'' tutors."
* ''RoomOne'' by AndrewClements (author of ''Frindle'') zigzags and plays with this. The hero reads mysteries, and when he encounters one, decides not to tell adults because in all the books he has read, they are useless or obstructive.
* Because none of the servants in ''Literature/SixGunSnowWhite'' want to lose a good position (they get paid extra for keeping Snow White secret), none of them ever do anything to help the heroine.
* Shows up sometimes in ''Literature/SomeoneElsesWar''. Entirely justifiable when it does, because it's a novel about ChildSoldiers [[TruthInTelevision rebelling against the adults who kidnapped them in the first place]].
* Did any of the adults (i.e. Ned and Alice Wakefield and/or the Sweet Valley Police) in ''Literature/SweetValleyHigh'' ever do anything to prevent the insanity that coalesced around those "perfect size six" twins? Kidnappings, Murders, Rapes, all somehow involving the same two girls, the perpetrators constantly getting away only to cause 3-4 books worth of harassment. Parents who apparently allowed their 7 year old children the range of teenagers (if you think I'm kidding, go read some Sweet Valley Twins books where the kids go adventuring at night.)
* ''Literature/TheBabySittersClub'':
** Played straight and averted in the books. Some of the parents, particularly those of the sitters themselves, are intelligent, reasonable, helpful people. Others are well-meaning but a bit clueless, and have to be given insight into their children's fears and wants by the sitters because they don't pick up on them otherwise. Possibly the straightest example of the trope are Jessi's parents, who thought it was perfectly acceptable to leave their 11-year-old daughter in charge of her 8-year-old sister and 2-year-old brother for ''a weekend''.
** Mrs. Arnold not realising that her identical twin daughters are acting out because they're sick of being treated like they're one person.
** Mrs. Addison failing to realize that her kids want to spend some time with her instead of being dumped on sitters all the time.
** Mrs. Barrett, when she's first introduced, is in the middle of an unpleasant divorce; as a result she is highly disorganized and does things like neglecting to leave the sitters with contact information and even forgetting to inform Dawn of one kid's allergies.
** In a later book, Mrs. Prezzioso not noticing her older daughter's obsessive finicky behavior and then acting out, as she was too distracted by becoming a pageant mom for her younger daughter.
* Zigzagged in ''Literature/TheCandyShopWar''. The kids parents are completely unhelpful [[spoiler: thanks to mind-controlling white fudge]]. The other adults, however, do manage to help the kids.
* ''Literature/TheMortalInstruments'':
** Every single higher-up is at a Clave meeting. ''All of them.'' While Jace's group of inexperienced youths are pursuing the Mortal Instruments, the maniacal Valentine, and attempting to stop TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt. Anyone who isn't is either insane with power, revenge, or a spy.
** Subverted with Magnus Bane. Physically he looks to be about nineteen, slightly older than the protagonists. But he is actually centuries old and thus technically more of an "adult" than even the oldest Shadowhunters. He is also incredibly useful.
* Generally averted in ''Literature/ThePosterChildren''. When informed, the adults insist on helping; especially, when a pair of students are [[spoiler:savagely beaten and one almost drowned during a test out of campus]], the Sheriff is incredibly frustrated that such a thing was able to happen and wanting to find the perpetrators but being unable to.
* ''Literature/{{TACK}}'': Averted. While the occasional adult is pretty dense, most of them know enough to listen to the kids who have a tendency to come up with clever and useful solutions to the problem at hand.
* ''Literature/TheTomorrowSeries'': Those few adults that the teenagers do have contact with are either unable to offer help, or are completely incompetent.
* Averted in ''Literature/TheTroop''. The boys believe that it's totally OK to pass things off to the adults, since when a grown-up handles things, it gets done Right The First Time. [[spoiler: It doesn't last.]]
* ''Literature/TheUnderlandChronicles'':
** Gregor, Boots and Lizzie's parents are not completely useless, and never by choice, but they are rarely able to help Gregor with his unique problems. Averted in ''Gregor the Overlander'' when his dad manages to steer them back to Regalia.
** Averted with Vikus, though he usually plays more of a supporting role.
* The ''Literature/TrixieBelden'' series is full of this. The main characters are teenagers who solve mysteries that the adults cannot.
* This is the lesson Coira learns very young in ''Literature/WhiteAsSnow''; her parents don't remember she exists, her nurse resents having to take care of her, and her nurse's replacement fails to give her what she really needs. Coira ends up practically raising herself and talks to none of them.
* Averted in the ''Literature/YoungWizards'' series, where the adult wizards actually listen to and believe the child wizards[[note]]"So, a talking speck of light told you that the book which describes the entirety of reality has gone missing? Okay, thanks for telling us."[[/note]], and the adult wizards, although having less raw power than the child wizards, have a lot more skill and knowledge. The child wizards still get to go on (dangerous) adventures, though, since fighting evil is the job of every wizard, regardless of age, and the adult wizards have their hands full with their own battles against evil.
** Playes straight in the eighth book, "Wizards at War". All of the adult wizards start to lose their power, so the teens and younger wizards are in charge.
* Literature/{{Eludoran}}: No one over the age of 14 seems capable of making important decisions or getting anything done. Somewhat TruthInFiction since the adults tend to become mired in larger issues of state security and politics. It takes a year-long absence of his daughter before Arulaine even starts to take matters seriously, and even more time to spur himself to do something about it. Then again, he WAS battling depression at the time, so that might be an explanation.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* The entire premise of ''Series/AbsolutelyFabulous'' is that the adults are completely drug addled and useless, while the child, Saffy, is intelligent, capable and down-to-earth.
* ''Series/AreYouAfraidOfTheDark'' featured the CassandraTruth variety. Your parents will never believe your neighbors are vampires.
* Arguably ''Series/ArrestedDevelopment'', as while all of the adults in the show constantly make terrible decisions and ruin any good thing that they get, George-Michael is running a relatively successful business and Maeby [[spoiler: cons her way into a job as a movie studio executive. This is further highlighted by the fact that one of Maeby's better ideas as an executive is ruined by Michael.]]
* ''Series/BeverlyHills90210'', for some extent, with the obvious exception of Brandon and Brenda's parents (who were originally part of the main cast). As the series progressed, teens got into, or were affected by, much more serious troubles (guns, paedophilia, addiction, mafia, rape) and their parents were either oblivious or useless. The '90210' sequel also has that a bit: drugs, a hit-and-run death, stalking... and only Annie's and Dixon's folks actually do something (and only occasionally).
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer''
** The show has a curious take on this. While Giles and Jenny Calendar are undeniably useful, and Buffy's mother proves quite smart and sensible once she finds out the truth about her daughter (though she still can't do much and it's just not realistic to help out a super-powered daughter), adult ''society'' is thoroughly useless. There is no adult organization which is not either evil (the Mayor and his administration), staggeringly incompetent (the Watchers), or both (the Initiative). The only possible exception is the coven which sends Giles to stop Willow at the end of season six; but they didn't get much, or indeed any, screen time. If they had, no doubt they'd have turned out to be a front organization for some kind of demonic cult.
** Snyder. ''And how''.
** Did anyone else watch all those kids dying all the time on the show and ask themselves [[ThereAreNoAdults 'Don't these people have parents?!']]
** The ''one time'' the parents decided they should do something about the way at least one of their children dies every week, [[Recap/BuffyTheVampireSlayerS3E11Gingerbread it was because a demon was influencing them]].
** The worst case was in the season 6 premiere when demon bikers attacked the town and there was no one to defend it. No cops, firemen or rescue personnel accounted for.
** Xander's parents are drunks, Buffy's father is rarely around, Willow's mother shows up once, getting in her way, and Willow's father is mentioned in reference, with Willow worrying what "Ira Rosenberg will think of his only daughter nailing a crucifix to her wall."
** Played up in Season 3's "Band Candy," where a certain brand of chocolate makes adults who eat it revert to teenage maturity levels.
* This is the standard thought process of basically anyone in the ''Series/CriminalMinds'' universe who has a job involving teenagers or children: "Hmm, one of the kids it's my job to watch over is clearly being bullied/abused to a frightening and dangerous degree, perhaps I should report this or do something about it? Nah, it's cool, it's not like the abuser/bully might actually kill the kid, and the victim sure as hell isn't going to snap and go on a killing spree. I am awesome at my job!"
* The teacher from ''Series/EverybodyHatesChris'' is probably a frontrunning example in this section. She's witnessed Chris attacked by Caruso, but usually does nothing to stop or even acknowledge it. In one moment bordering on LawfulStupid, she gave Chris a 0 on a test, despite the fact that he got every question right, but because he entered each answer on the wrong line. It didn't look to be a scantron, where it would be justified, either.
* Several examples in ''Series/{{Friends}}'' :
** In "The One After The Super Bowl," it's revealed that Chandler pulled up a girl's skirt during a school play, so the entire school saw her underwear. Where were the teachers, faculty and parents when he did this? It was during a school play, so surely they witnessed this and reprimanded him for it (which, ironically, would've been ''far'' more likely to be the focus of the kids' attention than seeing the girl's underwear).
** Chandler's childhood in general, as he apparently received very little support during his parents divorce and Dad coming out as gay.
** In "The One With The Halloween Party," none of the trick-or-treaters are with their parents or guardians.
** Also, in "The One After I Do," why is there no babysitter at the kid's table?
** Phoebe's entire backstory. You have to question how an orphaned 14 year old ended up on the streets and not in care or a foster home.
* In ''Series/{{Glee}}'' there don't seem to be any repercussions for "slushie facials," or really any of the bullying. Even when Kurt is being constantly harassed for his sexuality (eventually leading to a threat against his life), the only adults willing to help seem to be his [[PapaWolf father]] and [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold Sue]] [[JerkWithAHeartOfJerk Sylvester]]. [[spoiler: Not that it works]]. This trope is most strongly embodied in Principal Figgins, who appears to have full-time possession of his own private IdiotBall, though [[IdiotPlot spare ones]] are available for all the other staff members in the school to use. The stupidity of Figgins really stands out in the fact that he believes that PerkyGoth Tina is [[spoiler: a vampire, as well as having a father who is "King of the Asian Vampires". Tina routinely uses this ruse to get Figgins to do what she wants]].
** {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d in the episode ''On My Way''. When Karofsky [[spoiler: tries to kill himself]] the faculty of [=McKinley=] conference in the principal's office. Among the things said, Sue says that [[spoiler: she should've seen it coming, because she was principal when he was bullying Kurt and she knew something was up.]] Will says that [[spoiler: they were all hard on Dave because they thought he'd hurt Kurt, they just didn't imagine that he'd hurt himself.]]
-->'''Principal Figgins''': It wasn't our job to know.\\
'''Emma''': Then whose job was it?
* In ''Literature/GossipGirl'' almost every significant adult, one way or another, is irresponsible, clueless, idiotic, indifferent about the whereabouts of the teen characters, or those adults are incapable of controlling the teen actions.
** To break this down a little: Lily Van Der Woodsen is shown to care more about the family's status than her children and is constantly shown as clueless to the point where her son and youngest child often has to spell things out to her. Bart Bass is a womanizing hard-ass who serves mostly to remind Chuck of all the ways in which he isn't good enough when he's not [[spoiler:getting in the way of Lily and Rufus' feelings for one another]]. Eleanor Waldorf is rarely home and when she is seems only to be able of criticizing Blair and Nate's parents are [[spoiler:a drug-addicted man arrested for embezzlement and his wife who blindly persists in the view that everything will be okay even when all their assets are seized]]. Even Rufus Humphrey, who compared to the others is something of a model parent, is often shown as stubborn to the point of pig-headed and unable to accept that his children are capable of making their own choices and dealing with the subsequent consequences. His ex-wife disappeared to Hudson and only came back when her teenage daughter showed up on her doorstep and demanded she did so.
** On the other hand, certain of the more minor adults fare better. The prime example being Cyrus Rose who, although constantly berated by Blair as being annoying, constantly shows himself to be supportive and useful on occasion.
* ''Series/TheHauntingHour'': The parents are so unhelpful in this series that whenever their child is stalked by the MonsterOfTheWeek or haunted by a supernatural force their kid usually ends up dead [[AndIMustScream or worse off]] by the end because they didn't listen.
* ''Series/ICarly'': {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d in multiple episodes. Each adult has his or her own brand of eccentricity. Subverted by Principal Franklin, who's competent, if ''overly'' lenient, and occasionally by Spencer. Spencer and Carly's grandfather, who only appeared in one episode, was almost freakishly competent.
* ''Series/MalcolmInTheMiddle'' has "adults are useless apart for Lois, who is just insane and terrifying." The irony of this does not escape Malcolm, when he observes that the family is generally rescued by the idiots and lowlifes who make their life miserable when Lois CrossesTheLineTwice to kick their asses.
* Uther Pendragon from ''[[Series/{{Merlin 2008}} Merlin]]''. All this guy does is make everything worse, he is an ego-maniac, massive hypocrite and lacks the competence to make up for his flaws.
* The Australian kids' show ''Series/MirrorMirror'' managed an odd variant, where, aside from the Old Man, who was managing what has to be one of the most epic {{Gambit Roulette}}s ever, all the adults were at least plausibly incompetent (if not outright evil), mainly because only a few of them had any idea of exactly what was going on.
** For the record: The adults in Louisa's family had no idea, and their tutor was in the pay of their rather nasty neighbour, who was hiding the son of Tsar Nicholas II, in a ploy to sell him back to Russia. As for Jo, her father gets clued in, but can't use the mirror. The worst offender would have been Dr Coigley, who was unknowingly working for the Old Man.
* The various ''Franchise/PowerRangers'' series do this to frightening levels. Not only do they have a team of six teenagers saving the world, there never seemed to be any kind of competent adult to help even with non-monster related things (For example, if a monster attacked at, say, a carnival, there never seemed to be any adults helping lead people to safety.)
** Since ''[[Series/PowerRangersLostGalaxy Lost Galaxy]]'' the adults started to have a major role, especially in ''Lost Galaxy'', ''[[Series/PowerRangersLightspeedRescue Lightspeed Rescue]]'', ''[[Series/PowerRangersTimeForce Time Force]]'' and ''[[Series/PowerRangersRPM RPM]]''
** "The Ninja Encounter". A baby in a stroller is rolling down a hill. The adults jump out of the way, as if the baby stroller was a runaway train. It's left to the main cast of teenagers to rescue the infant.
* In ''Series/RoundTheTwist'', only Nell can regularly provide the kids with any real help whatsoever. Tony Twist, and particularly Mrs James, and Mr Snapper, aren't much help.
* The extent that the adults in the Japanese drama ''Series/ShokojoSeira'' simply lets the bullying and torment happen to [[TheWoobie poor Seira]] can be extremely frustrating to watch. They could be [[SadistTeacher downright evil and cruel]], like Mimura Chieko who runs the school. Or they could be [[TheFool clueless and utterly incompetent]], like Mimura Emiko, sister of Chieko. Or sometimes they [[KickTheDog gleefully take advantage]] of Seira and Kaito and bully them around, like the chef and his wife. Or perhaps they could be like [[HotTeacher Aran Yukio]], a French teacher, who does want to help Seira, but lacks the power to really change anything. He isn't around all the time at the school to help Seira.
* ''Series/SpaceCases''. The two present adults on the show are unable to pilot the ship and almost seem to be the ButtMonkey characters. The former may actually be a bit explained, since one can assume that since they didn't touch the walls as long as the kids did (in the first episode) or that they were the last two to board the ship that the living spaceship saw the kids as the "Complete" crew.
** The android Thelma is also worthless to CloudCuckooLander levels - then again, she's not really an adult to begin with.
* Parents in ''{{Series/Spellbinder}}'' nurture inexplicable reluctance to believe in their teenage children's stories about parallel words and intruders therefrom. However, once presented with undeniable proofs, they become much more competent.
* ''Series/TeenWolf'': Played straight and averted, depending on the episode and season. Most of the teens have to check in with their parents on a regular or semi-regular basis. And once Scott's mother finally learns about her son's werewolf issues, she becomes much more involved and informed in the kids' activities. She is also an ActionMom and TheMedic for virtually everyone in town (to the point that it is a fandom joke that she is the only full-time caregiver at Beacon Hills Memorial Hospital).
** The Argents are very effective as werewolf hunters and Stiles' father is constantly popping up as the sheriff. Sheriff Stilinski is shown to be a [[ImprobableAimingSkills awesome marksman]] and an effective investigator once the supernatural nature of the problems in Beacon Hills is [[TheUnmasquedWorld revealed to him]].
** Dr. Deaton and Ms. Morrell could count as aversions as well.
** By Season 3B, all the adult characters except for Lydia's mother and Mr [=McCall=] know about the supernatural, and do their best to help out when they can.
* In ''Series/TheFactsOfLife'', the only adult who serves a purpose is Mrs. Garrett, the school's nutritionist.
* ''Series/TheVampireDiaries''
** The one teacher we see at the school has zero understanding for Elena or Jeremy despite their loss; Elena's aunt is clueless; even after Vicki is attacked, her parents are nowhere to be seen, and her brother's the only one at her bedside in the hospital.
** The founder's council is also not all that useful. When the most competent member of the town's anti-vampire defense force is DAMON there is a problem
** This is not the case with Alaric
** Subverted with Sheriff Forbes and Mayor Lockwood, as of season three.
** Also subverted with Professor Shane as of Season 4.
* In ''Series/ThreeTwoOneContact'''s "The Bloodhound Gang" segments, the adults who are the targets of con artists are typically complete idiots to the point where one easy mark has ''his own child'' have control of his own finances.
* In ''Series/WizardsOfWaverlyPlace'', all of the Russo children, but neither of the parents, have magical powers. This works out about as well as you'd expect.
* On ''Series/TheTroop'', when someone turns 18, they lose their courage and can no longer fight monsters.
* ''Series/IncredibleCrew'' plays this trope for laughs in the "Cola Thief" sketch, where a teacher keeps her class after school because someone stole and drank nearly ''sixty'' sodas from her cabinet and won't let anyone leave until the thief confesses. One of the students points out that a boy named Wyatt, who's very plainly going out of his mind from a sugar rush, probably did it. The teacher just says they can't accuse someone without proof.

* ''Music/{{Quadrophenia}}'' shows the other side of this- even though the plot opens with Jimmy asking for help from a therapist, preacher, and his mom, as events wear on it's implied (even all but stated) that the real problem is that he can't accept help. As a work about youth, this makes perfect sense really, but considering [[BeYourself his epiphany]] at the end, perhaps he can't be blamed for having to find his own way.

[[folder:Puppet Shows]]
* Subverted by The Children's Television Workshop and ''Series/SesameStreet''. Mr. Snuffleupagus was originally created as a way for children to relate to having an imaginary friend whom adults didn't believe in. The problem, though, was that Snuffy was undeniably real; it was just the adults' bad luck that they never ran into him. Critics pointed out children could interpret the situation another way: [[FamilyUnfriendlyAesop Adults would never believe you even when you're telling the truth]] - a dangerous moral when trying to get kids to report child abuse to an authority like a teacher or the police. As a result, Snuffy was revealed to the adults, and to drive the point home, the adults even apologized to Big Bird for not believing him.
** However played straight in Abby's Flying Fairy School with Ms. Sparklenose. For each crisis of the day, Ms. Sparklenose's guidance to her preschool-age students is always some variation of her telling them to solve the problem themselves.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Pokethulhu}}'', player characters are ''required'' to be [[EnforcedTrope 16 or under]]... everybody above high school age is either terrified and in hiding or [[AxCrazy dangerously insane.]]
* ''TeenageMutantsFromOuterSpace'' takes this trope and cranks it UpToEleven. The rules specifically state that characters either have militant parent who will punish even the smallest infraction harshly, or hippie parents that refuse to take an interest in your life. However, since the main point of the character interaction is teenaged drama, having antagonistic parent works.
* Played straight in ''TabletopGame/LittleFears'', which is all ''about'' children fighting against not-so-imaginary monsters that even the most well-intentioned adults just plain can't see or otherwise perceive as real. As player characters grow older, they become more and more competent in the general sense but increasingly lose the inner "magic" that comes with childhood, until around their fourteenth birthday (if nothing worse has befallen them before then) they too will forget about or dismiss their adventures and join the ranks of the ignorant soon-to-be-adults...

* Creator/{{Euripides}}' ''Theatre/{{Alcestis}}'': Admetus is enraged that not even his parents could bring themselves to die for him, causing Alcestis to die instead.
* Creator/WilliamShakespeare's ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet''. The teenage protagonists are halted at every turn by their parents and other authority figures. Friar Laurence tries to help, but he decides the best way to do this is marry the pair and hope for the best. It didn't end well. This is more like a ''severe'' case of [[LoveMakesYouDumb Lust Makes You a fucking MORON]], as the adults try and offer fairly decent advice, but the protagonists are too blinded, deafened, and otherwise rendered TooDumbToLive by love to bother listening to it, or even think more than five minutes ahead. Ironically, Friar Laurence's original plan ''would'' have worked, if events had played out the way he expected. He just had no way to foresee the murder of Tybalt and how that would complicate the plot. Even then, he ''still'' had a handle on things, and it was only a series of unfortunate coincidences that resulted in both title characters killing themselves. Had the messengers various people sent about various events arrived in a somewhat less unfortunate order...
* At the end of ''Theatre/WestSideStory'', the few adults who have appeared in the story are left alone on stage after the youth gangs carry Tony away, emphasizing how little the supposed authority figures have done. Being based on the above-mentioned ''Romeo and Juliet'', this is unsurprising. And {{lampshade|Hanging}}d for all authority figures in the [[AwesomeMusic/{{Theatre}} song]] [[Funny/WestSideStory Gee, Officer Krupke]]. The adults are useless ''even to one another''.
* In the musical ''Theatre/{{Thirteen}}'', the only kid whose parents are mentioned is Evan, when his parents get divorced and when Archie guilts Evan's mom into buying tickets to the R- rated movie "The Bloodmaster."
* This is probably the fourth strongest theme in ''SpringAwakening''. The first three being sex, sex and sex.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Any RPG where the main characters are almost always under 20, often around 14-18. Normally there is one or two older characters to act as a sage or adviser.
* Most of the adults in ''VideoGame/EarthBound'' are incompetent. The police force of Onett fights Ness for trespassing, and loses. Some of the Happy Happy cultists are too busy painting cows blue to care for their children back in Twoson. The Runaway Five is continually in debt everywhere they go. Porky's dad in Fourside is seen riding off of his son's success, and later in the game he's lost everything.
* Strongly featured in the ''VideoGame/TouchDetective'' series. The most competent ones often turn out to be psychopaths.
* Oddly inverted in ''VideoGame/{{Persona 2}}''. The high schoolers that star in ''Innocent Sin'' mess everything up, and the adults in ''Eternal Punishment'' have to fix things. Although Tatsuya ''does'' join in later on.
** Absent in ''VideoGame/{{Persona 3}}'' which features adults in on the masquerade to some extent and try to help you outside of the main conflict region of the Midnight Hour, but can't do anything directly. Also, one of the first tier {{Big Bad}}s is an adult.
** Justified in ''VideoGame/{{Persona 4}}'' where the conflict occurs in a region where the police have no access and the people who do are either indoctrinated into the masquerade or are former victims. This trope applies because they just couldn't know what's really going on. The police close the case when someone falsely admits to all of the murders; and, even late in the game when you are straightforward about your "extracurricular activities," Dojima-san doesn't believe you.
** The series does a complete inversion in ''VideoGame/StrangeJourney''. The playable character and his crew are all highly-trained military personnel.
** Also inverted in ''VideoGame/DigitalDevilSaga'', where with only two exceptions the cast are exceptionally skilled doctors (Heat), scientists (Serph and Gale), and nurses (Argilla).
* ''VideoGame/MegamanBattleNetwork'' is ''especially'' cruel - ''all'' of the adults are either just standing around, willing to netbattle instead of try to fix things, or nothing. The only competent adults are either involved with the WWW (Even Baryl & Colonel), Mr. Higsby, (For different reasons) or Lan's dad.
** Chaud lampshades this when he mentions that the official netbattlers are all off in la-la-land.
** The spiritual sequel series ''VideoGame/MegamanStarForce'' also uses this, but since there are only a handful of people around the world capable of wave changing, including the villains, all of whom have roughly the same amount of experience, there is no logical reason why a kid can't be the most naturally gifted member of that group.
* ''VideoGame/{{Bully}}''. Surprisingly one of the most accurate portrayals of this trope. It's set in a school, one that's plagued by bullying. Even if the student body consists of [[ThrivingGhostTown about 70 people]], the adults and the four prefects seem to just stand there going, "Duuuuuuuuh" while Gary manipulates all the cliques into fighting with each other. Even if the prefects (and adults) ''do'' chase Jimmy and can be seen occasionally busting a student, it's obvious the prefects are power-hungry jerks who're oblivious to most of the stuff that goes on in the school, and so are the adults. (i.e., the nerds are able to construct ''potato gun turrets'' in the astronomy club building without alerting adults and it's implied they have no supervision, the jocks throw ''explosive-laden footballs'' at a student, the gym gets ''lit on fire'' and nobody calls the police unless you fail and nobody even ''mentions'' it afterwords.) It's safe to say even if the game has a realistic portrayal of how useless adults can be in a school setting; you can probably rest easily given that if this happened in real life, people WOULD call the police and the school would be closed in a year. (Mr. Burton ''especially'' would be fired for ''encouraging'' the bullying and [[spoiler: the implications that he ''sexually harassed Zoe''. Which he is anyway]].)
** It's shown that Dr. Crabblesnitch actually ''can'' be a ReasonableAuthorityFigure, too. He just didn't ''know'' what was going on until it was too late. This leads to a couple of the (realistic) interpretations where the adults aren't necessarily useless, they just seem that way because they're unaware. Chances are, Dr. Crabblesnitch would have stepped in sooner or later; but [[GameplayAndStorySegregation you can beat up as many prefects as you want, even his own secretary, and merely get detention]].
* There are whole two adults in the Rose Garden Orphanage in ''VideoGame/RuleOfRose'', and the one with actual authority is a problem, not a helper, with his implied sexual abuse of the teenaged residents, and while the cleaning lady is more observant, it doesn't matter since the PoliceAreUseless and won't listen to her, and she gets murdered for her troubles.
* [[VideoGame/{{TCT RPG}} The Colour Tuesday]] has the adults of the world at the mercy of being turned into puppets by the Others. Children aren't affected. Combines with CompetenceZone.
* ''VideoGame/EscapeFromStMarys'': Adults mostly seem indifferent to your characters' pleas for help on after encountering increasingly bizarre phenomena.
* [[BrattyHalfPint Carl Clover]] of ''VideoGame/BlazBlue'' holds this a core belief. All adults are stupid, selfish and usually outright evil. [[FreudianExcuse He has a very good reason for thinking like this]], though. He has since loosen up, now considering that there's at least two honest-to-god decent and good adults, Bang and Litchi. The jury's still out about that adult and CampGay performer chasing him (Amane).
* Two teenagers in a parking lot are entirely capable of starting a school on their own in ''VideoGame/HighSchoolStory''. It just builds from there.
** When Hope is bullied on her school's website, the principal demands that she show proof of the bullying before he will do anything. This despite the fact that ''it's the school's website'' and he should be more than capable of accessing the public pages where other students were posting about her. There's also the fact that it went on publicly for ''months'' and absolutely no teachers or moderators took notice. [[spoiler:He does finally call the police after she brings him the evidence, going from "does nothing at all" to "gung-ho borderline-overreacting" in record time.]]
* Defied in ''VideoGame/Conception2ChildrenOfTheSevenStars''. Despite a divinely-enforced CompetenceZone meaning only teenagers can actually fight, it's made clear everyone knows that leaving them to actually coordinate the war effort would be an unmitigated disaster. Senior military ranks, positions of authority, mission coordinators and the R&D team are all comprised of highly-educated adults.
* ''Sir Basil Pike Public School'', a ZapDramatic game about bullying, has the uselessness of adults as one of its central themes. There's no situation in the entire game where actually going to an adult for help will get you anything but a headache. At best, he'll tell you that it was a good idea, but he doesn't have time to listen to your crap right now and you should solve your own problems, at worst, he'll babble a warped version of the JudgmentOfSolomon that has no answer.


[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/TheAdventuresOfShanShan'', [[http://shanshan.upperrealms.com/view.php?pageid=006&chapterid=1 his parents can't tell what's really happening, and his father doesn't seem to care.]]
* Jason Yungbluth's BlackComedy comic series ''Clarissa'', wherein the titular character is a kindergartener suffering [[ParentalIncest repeated sexual abuse at the hands of her horrible, passive-aggressive father]], features nothing but useless adults. Her family knows about the abuse, [[StepfordSmiler but is trying as hard as they possible can to turn a blind eye to it]], and her kindergarten teacher is far, ''far'' too dense to interpret any of Clarissa's numerous pleas and drawings as the cries for help they very obviously are.
* [[http://www.egscomics.com/?date=2008-09-01 Massively subverted]] in ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive''. If it isn't apparent from that panel alone, everyone really did seem to have spent the past few years ignoring the problem and hoping for the best.
** ''El Goonish Shive'' zigzags this trope a bit at times, though with justification. While Mr. Verres is certainly not useless, he was eventually KickedUpstairs due to how close he was getting to the comic's various situations, so that he's no longer in as convenient a position to be helpful. Likewise, [[BadassTeacher Raven]] is most certainly ''not'' useless, but is forbidden to involve himself in situations where magic isn't present, so his helpfulness is also limited. There's also Jerry, who was only introduced to the plot just as he was about to die and be reborn, which, as he points out, will limit his helpfulness for a time.
* {{Deconstructed|Trope}} in ''Webcomic/GunnerkriggCourt''. Antimony treats the teachers at the Court like they're useless, even those who have proved themselves competent and far more knowledgeable about the ongoing weirdness than she is. As a result, she nearly dies several times. (Annie's distrust appears to stem from the fact she had no shortage of Useless Adults in her life prior to enrollment at the Court: She could see [[{{Psychopomp}} The Guides]]; none of the staff at Good Hope could.)
** This is addressed in Chapter 28: ''Sprimg Heeled, Part 2'', where Jones finally calls out Antimony on this, pointing out that the situation with [[spoiler:Jack]] could have been solved more quickly and with fewer problems if she had spoken to someone about it. Given that she [[spoiler:gave Antimony crucial help twice in that chapter, releasing Reynardine and dispelling Zimmy's hallucinations with a rain shower,]] her words have weight. Unfortunately, the lessons didn't take as Jones again has to point out in Chapter 40 that her attitude is causing problems.
** Also deconstructed in the fact that there's a very good reason not to trust some of the adults at the Court: [[spoiler: an old conspiracy of the court's founders to sacrifice Jeanne and her lover so she would become a rage-filled wraith that would protect the Annan Waters.]] The problem is that the adults are very powerful and competent people ... and that is exactly why you should fear them, because some of them are ''not'' good people.
* Subverted in ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}''. At first the adults seem like simple foils for the kids. Then John's dad is seemingly easily captured by the imps, and you expect the parents to be simple plot devices. Then it turns out that he and the other kids' guardians are immensely powerful and important to the game. [[spoiler:At least, until they all die.]]
** Also definitely subverted by the Condesce, which is the only living adult Troll... and is very much ''not'' useless.
* ''Webcomic/MandatoryRollerCoaster'' offers many examples: the two guys on the couch, the two guys at the bar, and any instance of a business or office environment.
* ''Webcomic/{{Memoria}}'': The police won't look for Winston. More bewildering, their perfectly loving parents let them go look for Winston with little more than giving them money and instructing them to come back in a few days if they don't succeed.
* The cast of ''WebComic/MenageA3'' are mostly in their 20s, but act more like teenagers -- with useless parents. The few older characters are usually more flawed than anyone, with one or two small exceptions (such as Gary's sympathetic boss).
** Nathan, Angele, and Angele's husband are all enthusiastic adulterers in one way or another.
** Gary suffered a puritannical religious upbringing that he claims left him socially disabled.
** Amber's parents have apparently never discovered that their daughter is a fairly famous porn star.
** Worst of all is Yuki's father. He doesn't seem to be intentionally abusive, but he paid so little attention to his daughter that she was repeatedly exposed to the hentai rape artwork he drew professionally, which traumatised her so much she now has an intense fear of penises.
--> "''TENTACLES''!"
* ''Webcomic/PennyAndAggie'' demonstrates this trope at least once, although parents are sometimes shown as being reasonably aware of things you'd expect them to know about their kids.
** In "The Popsicle War" arc, a student widely publicize a video in which she accuses another student of lesbian rape, to the point where even all the students at a completely different school know about it within a few hours ... and not a single adult shows awareness of this, not even the administrators you'd expect to be concerned about a student rapist in their population.
** The trope is, however, {{averted|Trope}} gradually but decisively with regard to [[TheSociopath Cyndi's]] dangerous and [[ForTheEvulz sadistic]] schemes, beginning in "Her Private Chambers" when Penny's parents, overhearing her and Stan discussing what she's done, resolve to act as Penny's "allies" in stopping her. In "Mister Smiles," Lynda acts on this by calling Cyndi's mother about her actions. Although this doesn't have an immediate effect, because Cyndi's an excellent [[ManipulativeBastard liar and actor]], it does plant the first seeds of suspicion in her mother, at least. Finally, at the climax of "Missing Person," the FBI, investigating [[spoiler: Cyndi's kidnapping]], examines her laptop, which her parents surrendered, and finds on it a private journal in which she details her past and future plans to [[spoiler: [[DrivenToSuicide drive her classmates to suicide]]]]. When Cyndi's parents view this after [[spoiler: Cyndi has talked her captor Charlotte into stabbing herself]], they [[spoiler: commit her to a psychiatric hospital]].
** The trope is firmly averted in "The Last Summer of Youth: May," when Penny's parents, Rob and Lynda, prevent a potential date rape at her party -- and do it with style.
* ''WebComic/{{Precocious}}'' sometimes subverts and sometimes plays straight this trope. Most of the parents are just as smart as their kids, but the stuff those kids can get away with is astonishing sometimes.
* ''Webcomic/StickyDillyBuns'' features sisters Amber and Ruby (who are both in their 20s, but never mind). According to a line in ''Webcomic/MenageA3,'' of which this is a spin-off, their (off-stage) parents are wealthy doctors, but... Aside from their failure to bring up daughters able to handle adult life competently (one went into the sex industry, the other is screamingly neurotic), and the fact that they've apparently never even heard that their older daughter has become a fairly famous porn star, they also failed to notice that [[ParentalFavoritism Ruby felt that they favored Amber]] (a problem admittedly probably exacerbated by Ruby knowing Amber's secret). Nor did they point out to Ruby that the [[DangerouslyShortSkirt very short skirts]] that she wore (thanks to some malevolently bad advice from a teacher) were hardly appropriate for someone seeking a serious graduate-level job in business. Finally, they sent Ruby to live with Amber, only telling Amber she was coming by e-mail, despite the fact that, according to Ruby, she told her mother that Amber never checks her e-mails.
* In ''Webcomic/SuicideForHire'', nobody seems to bother to investigate what their teenage offspring are up to, nor get suspicious at the rash of teen suicides (despite [[http://suicideforhire.comicgenesis.com/d/20080217.html their utter lack of subtlety]]). Two adults so far have found out about SFH, but only in order to request its services.
* While adults in ''Webcomic/ToPreventWorldPeace'' aren't actually ''useless'' (in fact, one of the main characters is in her thirties), the magic system revolves around always-teenage-and-younger girls. Subverted somewhat in that the main characters' parents were not only aware she was a MagicalGirl, they actually helped design her costume.
* In Webcomic/ShootAround, adults are useless because they're generally not GenreSavvy about the ZombieApocalypse setting.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In ''WebVideo/{{lonelygirl15}}'', all of the TAAG's parents who aren't dead ([[spoiler:or evil]]) are this.
** Bree's dad does display competence, for a while.
* Shows up frequently in ''[[NotAlwaysRight/SisterSites Not Always Learning]]'', the authority figures depicted often neglect or flat out refuse to help or look after kids they're in charge of, and some of them actively attempt to sabotage them.
** On a lighter note, there are several stories of teachers who just take the path of least resistance and hand out passing grades regardless of effort or merit.
* Adults, at least in the Pregame of ''Roleplay/SurvivalOfTheFittest'', are almost always unable to stop any fights, bullying, drug use, stealing, etc. The main reason of this is that if handlers want to establish their characters as "bad", they don't want to have them be caught by adults, as that would ruin the reputation.
** Subverted to an extent in the v4 pre-game, where players were warned that inappropriate behavior, if caught, would result in exclusion from the school trip.
* In ''Literature/{{KIKEN}}'', this is a DeconstructedTrope. That's because adults aren't ''entirely'' useless -- some want to change the world, but are trying to balance their careers (i.e. Emiri, Juuri, Yukari and Yamato) and some are too cynical or apathetic to even ''believe'' in a changing Earth (i.e. Takeo).
* Taylor Hebert, protagonist of the {{superhero}} story ''Literature/{{Worm}}'', begins the story as a student at Winslow High and subject of [[PlayedForDrama an extended and vicious]] [[TheBully bullying campaign]]. Of all the teachers and administrators at the school, exactly one notices, exactly zero offer any meaningful assistance, and some are actively, wilfully against her. It's tragically telling that when Taylor finally meets a genuine ReasonableAuthorityFigure, she suspects she's under some mental compulsion.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/APupNamedScoobyDoo'', the kids end up chasing a lot of people in costumes committing a number of illegal acts. Yet adults never seem to step in on any of the cases, even if minors risk getting injured and will sometimes actually hire the kids themselves. This was lampshaded in at least one episode when Fred asks a client why they aren't going to the police instead.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Arthur}}'' is [[ZigZaggingTrope zigzagged]]. Most of the times it's played straight when the kids solve most of their problems without the help of any adults, like in the episode "Arthur's Birthday" when they solve the problem of Arthur and Muffy's birthday's being on the same day with no adult interaction, besides Arthur's dad telling Arthur that his idea is a good idea. Occasionally it is averted, like in Arthur's Knee when the Arthur's Parents are the only people who can help Arthur with his knee. Further played straight with adults like Arthur's Parents and Mrs. Tibble, who rarely discipline the bad behavior of their children and grandchildren, D.W. and the Tibble Twins, respectively.
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' zigzags this trope. The number of times the main characters have encountered useless, ineffectual or just plain stupid adults (Lao Bei Fong, General Fong) is about equal to the number of encounters with scarily competent and powerful adults (Iroh, King Bumi). Some are marginally useful, but rarely affect the plot directly (Hama, Piandao).
** In the third season, there are a number of useful adults, particularly during the Invasion. Most notably Sokka and Katara's father Hakoda, although Teo's MadScientist dad is also right behind him. The Boulder and the Hippo, along with Hue and the Swamp Benders, also rank high. Naturally, [[spoiler:all of them are captured by the end of the episode to prevent them from stealing the spotlight any further]].
** And then the GrandFinale has [[spoiler:the {{old master}}s, a whole ''squad'' of {{Badass Grandpa}}s ''and'' some of the most powerful benders in the world, both taking back Ba Sing Se themselves and making the plan that finally defeated the Fire Nation]].
** In all, it's more like they are useless ''until'' they become an OldMaster, and then they get the appropriate degree of competence. So it's more like ''Avatar'' has an [[CompetenceZone Incompetence Zone]].
** Really, the adults are less useless on average than the children - it's more a problem of "next to Aang, Iroh, and Azula, no-one with significant screen time seems consequential."
* ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'' on the other hand may be the biggest [[AvertedTrope aversion of this trope]] in WesternAnimation. Not only are the four main characters all older teens (18-19), and by Season 4 are all full adults, nearly all of their mentors and allies, most of them extremely capable fighters in their own right, are adults. In fact, the only actual Kid characters in the entire series are Tenzin's children, plus Kai in Season 3 and 4.
* On ''WesternAnimation/ChalkZone'', this applies to most of the adults in the series- they're either villains (Vinnie Ratton, Terry Bouffant), [[{{Jerkass}} jerkasses]] (Mr. Wilter), or completely oblivious (Joe and Millie Tabootie).
* ''WesternAnimation/CodeLyoko'' subverts, plays straight and generally runs all over the place with this trope. At first, the middle school heroes won't tell any adults about their virtual battles with XANA because they think (probably correctly) that the first thing the adults would do is shut down the Supercomputer that's causing all the trouble, which in turn might kill Aelita. Yumi later lampshades and tries to subvert this trope when XANA threatens to cause a nuclear meltdown, saying that they're in way over their heads and need to tell somebody what's going on. The group narrowly decides to do so, but the adults are too distracted to do anything more than dismiss her with "you're JustAKid". Still later, some of the teachers, particularly their P.E. teacher Jim, prove to be resourceful and heroic once they're pulled into the fight, but the show's ResetButton premise ensures that the {{Masquerade}}'s always back in place by the end of each episode. Meanwhile, the middle-aged creator of Lyoko would probably be tremendously useful, if he weren't the TheGhost; as it is, he appears only through flashbacks, impostors, or by triggering the occasional DeusExMachina from off-screen.
* ''WesternAnimation/CodenameKidsNextDoor''. In it, almost all the characters over thirteen (including [[TeensAreMonsters teenagers]]) are either malicious, ignorant, or incompetent. [[BlatantLies This is excusable]] since as the title implies, it's a show for young children. But older viewers who can't take the show for what it is may try to overthink it and see the adult villains as criminals; perhaps even omnicidal maniacs because a few villains wish to eliminate every child in the world. Heck, one episode taking place in a possible future has the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES of all people about to sign a bill stripping kids of all their Constitutional rights. Then again, [[spoiler:this was really Numbuh 1 being placed in the Happy Headband, and thus, it never happened.]] But WHY was every politician accepting of the bill and not calling for the secession of their respective states, basically starting a second civil war? These are questions that burn within this troper.
** However one of the Operatives' father ([[spoiler:namely Niegel aka Numbah 1]]'s) turns out to be [[spoiler:The KND's greatest agent, Numbuh Zero, and was briefly recommissioned to help the KND fight against Grandfather and his legion of Senior Citizombies.]]
** There's also Numbuh Two's mother in her first appearance, when she defeats the Common Cold after the Kids have been unable to do so. This was fairly early in the series and Mrs. Gilligan has a completely different personality in all subsequent appearances.
** A few adults have aided the KND, like Lasso Lass, Dr. Sigmund Teeth, and especially Moosk, but Numbuh One can't help but be suspicious of them, at least at first.
* Partially averted with Helen Morgendorfer in ''WesternAnimation/{{Daria}}'' who shows in at least one episode [[MamaBear that it's good to have a high powered lawyer in the family]] and, very occasionally, shows signs of genuine wisdom. Played straight with all the other adults in the series except one of Daria's aunts (naturally, she's a lot like Daria).
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Doug}}'': Roger is pestering Patty, disrupting class. It annoys Doug so much but Ms. Wingo doesn't even lift an ounce of effort to stop the bullying. When Patty finally loses it since Roger's disrupting her homework, Ms. Wingo then sentences Roger to detention...''and'' Patty despite her being the victim. Most school systems in America have a Zero-Intelligence Zero-Tolerance policy of fighting where the aggressor AND the student defending themselves receive more-or-less equal punishment.
* Happens a lot in ''WesternAnimation/{{Ewoks}}''. While the adults are not exactly dumb, they rely on their adolescent cubs to save the day, more often than not.
* Every adult (or anyone above 10, really) in ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddParents'' is either incompetent (Mr. Turner, the Mayor), clueless (Mrs. Turner, Principal Waxaplax), indifferent (the Dinklebergs, the Buxaplentys), cowardly (Vicky's parents), or flat out evil (Crocker, Doug Dimmadome). Even on Yugopotamia, Mark's parents are utterly useless in an emergency (such as the Gigglepie invasion or the attempted assassination of Grippulon). Fairy adults (bar Cosmo) seem fairly competent, albeit eccentric. And Timmy [[HypocriticalHumor had to coin that quote at the top...]] The Show ''is'' a parody of abusive, negligent, self-centered modern parents, after all, to the point that Timmy has to dream up fairy-''godparents'' since he's functionally an abused orphan.
* ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy''
** All of the adults have become complete idiots in recent years who will follow anything anyone with a microphone or megaphone says even if it's really dangerous or completely idiotic.
** The only competent adults are Brian and Lois. And as the series progressed, much of Lois's competence was absorbed by Brian. Now Lois is mostly apathetic to her children's problems (which she wasn't before) and now Brian is the only adult in the show capable of using any sort of logic in their lives.
** Joe Swanson is an aversion. He's likely the only truly competent person in town, barring the fact that he is a bit of a hard-nose, he's usually just doing his job.
* Mac's Mom in ''WesternAnimation/FostersHomeForImaginaryFriends'' zigzags this trope. Unlike most adults in animation, she is ''not'' oblivious to the bullying Mac goes through at the hands of Terrance. However, she is usually is too busy working to do anything about it, and her solution to the problem is forcing Mac to get rid of Bloo. Nor does she notice Mac's visits to Foster's.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' episode "Teenage Mutant Leela Hurdles", when the cast is reverted back to being teenagers, Leela requests that her parents ground her, arguing that she never had such an experience. She then sneaks out through the window.
* ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls'': Grunkle Stan is pretty much oblivious to anything Dipper and Mabel are up to. The {{police|AreUseless}} are vastly incompetent at their jobs as well. [[spoiler: Averted with Stan as of season two, when he [[PapaWolf saves the kids from a horde of zombies]] and proceeds to reveal to them that he's always known about the supernatural stuff in Gravity Falls, but pretended he didn't so they wouldn't get in trouble.]]
** [[spoiler: It is revealed that the obliviousness of the townspeople was the result of an secret society erasing their memories so they wouldn't be haunted by the supernatural occurrences. It's implied that the mind-wiping ray also affected the sanity of the community too, leaving them not only ignorant but brain-damaged. But with the society disbanded, it appears that this may start to change.]]
* The action in every episode of ''WesternAnimation/InspectorGadget'' revolves around the comically inept title character unknowingly putting himself in grave danger while his ten-year-old niece and canine sidekick have to protect him from himself and solve the case all by themselves. ''Other'' adults (e.g. DaChief) tend to be competent and intelligent, however, so Gadget is the exception in this universe, not the rule. Possibly his idiocy stems from having a helicopter in his head.
** However; this has [[AlternativeCharacterInterpretation been interpreted]] as ObfuscatingStupidity. Proponents of this school of thought say that Gadget (And possibly even DaChief!) is ''aware'' that his ten year old niece and his dog are the ones doing all the work. They seem to have the formula down to a T, Inspector Gadget walks around getting into trouble and keeps the criminals (for the most part) distracted, while the case is solved from the shadows by Penny and Brain. He also takes the credit for it, so MAD only targets ''him''. There have been occasions where he ''knew'' Penny and/or Brain was in danger and then becomes ''scarily'' competent.
* ''WesternAnimation/InvaderZim''. Every single adult (and most of the children, for that matter) is completely oblivious to the fact that Zim is an alien, despite being, as Dib points out, green, with no ears. Mrs. Bitters, however, isn't useless... she's downright {{sadistic|Teacher}}.
* Averted in ''WesternAnimation/JonnyQuest,'' where the boys provide minimal help for Race and Dr. Quest.
* If an adult in ''WesternAnimation/JohnnyTest'' isn't the main character's parents or Albert (a certain villain's butler), then they'll be either incredibly incompetent (Mr. Teacherman, the mayor), nice but unhelpful (the school principal, the president), an antagonist DependingOnTheWriter (The General), or useful but eccentric (Mr. Black and Mr. White). The parents have a big DependingOnTheWriter personality, since some episodes they're [[MamaBear tot]][[PapaWolf al]] {{badass}}es (whether or not they're preventing the problem) and others [[ParentalNeglect oblivious]] or [[CowardlyLion too scared to do anything but rely on the kids]].
* Averted in ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'', where all the main characters' parents (well, except Ron's mother, who appears to be completely oblivious to her son or what he does) help save the day at least once. Many of the other adult characters are also reasonably competent, if sometimes out of their depth dealing with the bizarre situations Team Possible takes on as a matter of course.
* Subverted in ''WesternAnimation/KingOfTheHill'' where Hank and Peggy are always willing and able to get Bobby out of any trouble he might find himself in, and can even handle any problems that they themselves start. The other adults on the show however, particularly Bill and Dale...
* Pick ''any'' adult on ''WesternAnimation/MoralOrel'' and you'll find some degree of uselessness or {{Jerkass}}ery. Topping the list, however, are Orel's parents. His dad Clay injured Orel on a hunting trip and got so madly drunk that even CheerfulChild Orel was forced to see his father for what he was; Orel's mother, Bloberta, took over 10 episodes to realize their younger son Shapey got switched with Block, the younger son of their {{Distaff Counterpart}}s the Posabules. Then there's the overall neglect of Shapey and Block, which consists of doing nothing while they play with any dangerous device you can imagine (and some you can't).
** The episode "Innocent" {{lampshade|Hanging}}s this by having the adults realize their careless advice is often what causes Orel (who takes things literally) to do the crazy things that he does. They're forced to acknowledge that ''maybe'' they don't actually know what they're talking about * gasp!* . Their "solution" isn't much better. The adults, including Orel's dad, try to avoid Orel entirely and, failing that, try to avoid giving advice and passes him off on someone else. The end result: [[spoiler:Orel tries to prove to God he is "innocent" by [[BloodBath bathing in his friends' blood]].]]
** Later on in the show, however, Reverend Rod Putty and Coach Daniel Stopframe subvert this, actually doing their part to help Orel.
** Also [[WhatCouldHaveBeen if the show wasn't cancelled]], Orel's grandfather would have joined the family and became Orel's father figure. And in ''Beforel Orel'' he ''tried'' to be this, but at the end of the special Clay forbade Orel from ever seeing him again.
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' episodes featuring the Cutie Mark Crusaders will often feature this to one degree to another, such as the first such ep having well-meaning teacher Cheerilee inadvertently create the insult "Blank Flank" for kids without a Cutie Mark. However, the episode "[[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS3E4OneBadApple One Bad Apple]]" subverts it in that, throughout the episode, Sweetie Belle keeps trying to get the other two to appeal to a ReasonableAuthorityFigure for help against Babs Seed's bullying. Applejack later explains that, had they done so, she could have told them what Babs had been doing through at home, which the Crusaders immediately realized explained ''why'' she had behaved as he did. Applejack had initially held this information back to avoid getting Babs feeling singled out by the kids and reminded of what she was getting away ''from.''
** Admittedly Applejack could have avoided the problem completely by sharing that bit of info, seeing as Applebloom knows from personal experience how it feels to be bullied about your blank flank. Also, she ''knows'' that the Cutie Mark Crusaders are completely obsessed about cutiemarks. Does it make sense to hand over a filly who's extremely uncomfortable about the subject to them without a quick explanation?
** This "subversion" get ''viciously'' [[DoubleSubversion subverted]] in the fanfic Fanfic/PartingWords.
* Adults are so useless in ''ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}'' that, outside of a handful of scenes in the animated specials, they never appear onscreen or have any lines. Their voices are simulated by a muted trombone.
** That is taken from the comic strip, which was done that way to keep eye-level with the kids. Taller adults would have not worked in that format. For those keeping score, adults were shown in the comic strip a grand total of three times: the first two times, only their legs could be seen due to the perspective of the panel being drawn at the height of Charlie Brown and Lucy, and the third time showed them as indistinct figures in the background. The first few years of the Peanut strip did occasionally feature speech bubbles from off-panel adult characters however.
** This trope was always played straight in the strip, however, as the general message is that the kids are on their own to fend for themselves-- particularly via their various philosophical musings and Lucy's "Psychiatric Help" stand.
* The only adults of any prominence in ''WesternAnimation/{{Pelswick}}'' are two old ladies caught up in a rivalry with each other, the father who only cares about being politically correct, and the vice principal who is both a {{Cloudcuckoolander}} and overprotective of his students. Guest adults are generally even worse. The wisest adult on the show manages to be the weird guardian angel.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Recess}}'' has been known to go in and out of this trope. Adults in the show tend to vary between the primary antagonist (at least for the episode) to recurring obstacle to often siding with the children. And nevertheless, they are frequently portrayed as being worthless. In a startling realistic scenario, Ms. Finster actually tells a bully to leave Gus alone only for him to flat out ignore it and she is nowhere to be seen for the rest of the episode. (And neither is [[TheDragon Randall]], who you would ''think'' would find prime tattling material except for that ''he'' is afraid of them too.)
** Really; we can add a lot of things done by some of the kids on that playground to this list. Half the stuff people do in ''Recess'' on a regular basis seem to be ignored by adults. Doesn't help that Ms. Finster is more keen on looking for kids chewing bubble gum or bringing outside toys in.
** Miss Grotke usually subverts this trope, as she's usually always standing up for what the kids believe in and giving them advice, but at the same time, she can be pretty oblivious to the gang's plans.
** Weirdly, the only consistently ReasonableAuthorityFigure is King Bob -- the child-appointed sovereign of the playground. He's in 6th grade, so is only 10 or 11.
** Subverted in TheMovie. It starts out like this, but then the kids bite off more than they can chew trying to stop the Evil Plot™ and the faculty have to rescue them. Played straight with the police officers who don't take any of the claims regarding the suspicious goings on at the school seriously until the very end.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Rugrats}}'' is the king of this trope. The adults are criminally unaware, [[SocialServicesDoesNotExist social services level]] unaware, of the whereabouts of their children. Then again, '''who''' would imagine that ''babies'' would be the main characters?
** Taken to an extreme in "[[ItsAWonderfulPlot Chuckie's Wonderful Life]]", where Chuckie is the only one preventing Angelica and other babies from turning the town into a {{dystopia}}.
** In one episode the parents visit a plant nursery, put the kids down in the MIDDLE OF THE STORE, and walk away like it's normal, proceeding with their shopping. The babies were also wandering around the entire store riding/pushing a shopping cart along, often threatened by falling plants and mean looking dogs. Did none of the other customers or employees take notice of this?
** The PBS show ''WesternAnimation/{{Arthur}}'' does a TakeThat to the ''Rugrats'' in one episode, where baby Kate is watching something similar to it, and questions where the parents are at. She switches the show to one like the ''Teletubbies'', which she approves of.
** ''Magazine/{{Cracked}}'' parodied it with the kids doing things like smoking and sticking scissors in their eyes, while their parents left for Mexico. The parody ended with them being taken to court for criminal negligence, but getting pardoned because the judge thought [[WhatMeasureIsANonCute the kids were so ugly, no sane person would want them.]]
* Taken to extremes that got more disturbing every episode in ''WesternAnimation/ScoobyDooMysteryIncorporated''. Fred's dad actually expressed joy at the thought of him and the gang being attacked by a swarm of cicadas that had put ''three people in the hospital.''
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark''
** A source of much of the humor, where it is always up to the kids to save the day while the adults run around either clueless, panicking, or distracted. Stan Marsh's father Randy in particular is wonderfully stupid and easily led.
** In "Cripple Fight," a crowd of adults allows the title event to occur until both children are beaten and worn to exhaustion... and THEN an adult comes forward, saying, "Alright, boys, break it up..."
** [[WesternAnimation/SouthParkBiggerLongerAndUncut The movie]] is a particularly good example of this trope. The opening song even includes the line "Off to the movies we shall go/where we learn everything that we know/'cause the movies teach us what our parents don't have time to say".
** Taken to extremes in the season 6 episode "Child Abduction Isn't Funny" when the parents, in response to sensationalist news feel the only way to keep themselves from kidnapping their kids is to send them off into the wild. 4 days and a Mongolian invasion later, the parents think the kids have somehow become Mongolians and forgotten civilization. Kids are not amused. On the other hand, Mongolians themselves were quite helpful.
--->"I know our parents have done some stupid crap before, but Jesus Christ."
** Mr. Adams is a subversion. In "The Poor Kid" he acts as the caseworker to the McCormick children when they are taken from their parents. He ''is'' a dimwit who would prefer to tell Penn State jokes rather than help the children adjsut, but when he finds the foster home to be terrible too, he is ''very'' ashamed for having put them there, which is more than we get from the average adult. He did [[StatusQuoIsGod send the children back to their original homes]] but only because he felt the system couldn't help them.
** Another subversion is Nathan's mother at the end of "Handicar". While she is very much aware that Nathan hates summer camp and doesn't want to go there, she and her husband unfortunately had already made plans to vacation in Italy while their son's at camp. Hence, she pretends to not understand what Nathan is saying (despite it being clearly understandable to the normal person) in order to say "no" to his request of staying home from camp without having to explain the reason why.
* In ''WesternAnimation/StormHawks'', the entire free world is at risk of being overrun by a teenage supervillain... and the only people who can save the day are a bunch of plucky teen heroes. The only adults seen are either [[MiniatureSeniorCitizens tiny elderly folk]] or {{cannon fodder}}.
** Plenty of other Sky Knight squadrons are seen, but they rarely end up being useful. It's partly because they tend to stick to their own terras, whereas the Storm Hawks have no ties to anyplace in particular and are free to roam the world and get into crazy adventures.
** Averted with Stork, who is one of the Storm Hawks and arguably an adult, albeit a young one (early 20's, [[OlderThanTheyLook not that you'd think it]]). He's a NonActionGuy, but still manages to be one of the most memorable characters.
** Also averted with Starling, a Sky Knight who lost her squadron. Like the Storm Hawks, she seems to travel a lot.
* Adults in ''WesternAnimation/TheAdventuresOfJimmyNeutronBoyGenius'' are either never around (most of the parents), completely stupid (Jimmy's dad) or don't get onto the kids until the end. The quite possible worst example of this is probably one episode where Jimmy was being beaten up by a bully repeatedly at school. His parents assumed it was a ''girl'' and that ''he had found a girlfriend, even though he was coming home with BRUISES''. It eventually got to the point where Jimmy had to invent something to protect him!
* Somewhat the case in the 80's Creator/{{Nickelodeon}} cartoon ''Anime/TheMysteriousCitiesOfGold''. The three child protagonists repeatedly outsmart, escape, or defeat in combat entire groups of Spanish soldiers. Even in times where they had adult help, either the children were treated as leaders and guiders, or they ultimately ended up not being very helpful at all. Along the way they manage to solve several Incan mysteries the rest of the adults were incapable of figuring out.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''
** While not every adult is useless, most are fairly incompetent. Creator/MattGroening talks about many of the adult characters as morons. He said in an interview that authority isn't always quite as smart as it should be, and people like teachers and doctors all have flaws.
** Invoked in "[[Recap/TheSimpsonsS6E6TreehouseOfHorrorV Nightmare Cafeteria]]" where Bart and Lisa tell Marge about the cannibalism going on in their school, and Marge promptly dismisses them telling them that she cannot fight all their battles and they should forcefully tell the teachers to not eat them.
* Subverted in ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'', where the title characters are accident-prone morons. True, their dad isn't very useful, but that's more because he doesn't care rather than any real incompetence. Brock Samson more than makes up for anything Doc Venture is lacking in.
** Doc Venture is more cynical than incompetent, being a traumatized-adult parody of WesternAnimation/JonnyQuest (in addition to "Action Johnny"). In fact it's unknown which part of the Rusty Venture cartoon-show is real, since it's implied that all of his childhood-adventures actually ''happened.''
** After season 3, Doctor Venture is forced to care about his sons now that he can't just keep cloning them. Orpheus, having gone into his mind, finds an army of Hank and Dean zombies wandering around inside Venture's mind looking for their father to love them. Orpheus mentions that they're the manifestation of Rusty's guilt of being apathetic enough toward his sons to clone them so he doesn't actually have to take care of them.
* Averted in ''WesternAnimation/TheWeekenders''. The characters' parents are all {{Reasonable Authority Figure}}s who're receptive and in-touch with their children, and ''always'' have the right thing to say. (Especially Tino's mom, who is GenreSavvy.) Even Tish's mom, when she is shown as acting like a child eventually realizes that it was bothering Tish and stopped, but nevertheless enjoyed the weekend she spent with Tish and her friends. Carver's dad, portrayed as a rather uncaring authority figure by Carver is simply just stern...and it was Carver misinterpreting every chore and favor as a "punishment".
* ''WesternAnimation/WheelSquad'' averted this trope in "Hands Off My Brother". When the wheels failed to discourage the Snakes from bullying small children into stealing stuff for them, the wheels called for adult help and the adults did make it stop.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{WITCH}}'' averts this trope by having many adult characters, most villains, constantly outsmarting and one-upping the heroes. Especially in the second season when some of the villains [[spoiler:are the previous Guardians, who have the same power-set as the heroes, but years more experience in using them, as well as being more powerful. The heroes must rely on their wits to even stand a chance.]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'', this is usually averted by the WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague. But there were a few instances, such as in the episode "Humanity" where the league (which includes Batman) were completely unsuccessful in tracking down Red Tornado despite weeks of effort. The team proceeds to find him and foil the villain's plan in one day.
** Only a partial example. While the Team was able to find the villains, they were completely outmatched and needed the intervention of [[spoiler: Reds Tornado, Torpedo, and Inferno]] to stop him and [[spoiler: Red Tornado]]'s help preventing his plan.
** In "Failsafe", the entire team is defeated by the invading aliens without achieving any victory where the team was successful in running numerous offense action. [[spoiler: The entire point of the training exercise was to see how the team could cope after losing the league as support.]]