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Harmful to Minors

What do you suppose something like this does to a kid?
Alexander Knox, about the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents, Batman

There are a lot of things Moral Guardians believe kids should not be exposed to, and that doesn't just include violence and bad language. Issues such as sexuality, death of loved ones, bad guys winning, and other things are generally kept from kids until they're considered mature enough to understand them, or at least handled with extreme sensitivity. Because Children Are Innocent.

But sometimes a kid comes across something kids shouldn't see anyway. Maybe the kid accidentally opens the parents' bedroom door while they're getting it on. Maybe the kid has a parent who dies violently before their eyes. Maybe some other thing happens that throws the kid into the harsh realities of life before they're ready. Expect at least one image of Blood-Splattered Innocents.

Often used as a Freudian Excuse for iniquitous characters.

Note that this isn't about what is or isn't harmful to minors in real life. Plot device, people.

See Corruption of a Minor; contrast Corruption by a Minor, Troubling Unchildlike Behavior, and Bloodbath Villain Origin. Compare What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

Kids being exposed to horrific violence

    Anime and Manga 
  • Black Lagoon: Hansel and Gretel's back story
  • Fruits Basket:
    • Yuki was tortured, physically and mentally, when he was younger by Akito.
    • Almost every Sohma Family member has experienced some sort of mental or physical violence in their past. Mostly by Akito - who admittedly is a special case, too. And she was a victim of mental and physical violence as well, which completely broke her mind and drove her to, well, do lots of shit.
  • The main characters in Sailor Moon range from six (ChibiUsa before she gains her senshi form) to fifteen or so, excluding Mamoru and Setsuna. All of them die or watch a loved one die (usually after being beaten senseless), ChibiUsa watches her entire city blown up and her mother knocked into a coma, their job is fighting Eldritch Abominations, Usagi routinely has to watch her team die horrifically to save her, etc. There's even ChibiChibi who is two but she's a different case as she's actually an adult woman in disguise (manga) or the personification of someone's purity (anime) so she's probably got a good handle on the whole death-and-destruction thing. In particular, Minako has a backstory that, depending on the medium, includes being involved into gun crimes in London and having a hand grenade thrown at her (anime) or killing the man she loves Codename: Sailor V.
  • Peacemaker Kurogane: Poor Tetsunosuke saw his parents get murdered right in front of his eyes, years later he continues to see people get murdered, and the killer who murdered his parents tries to come after him later on too. Is it any wonder that he spends about four episodes in Heroic BSOD mode?
  • Grave of the Fireflies has this is spades, and is a stark reminder that children have no business trying to make it on their own, especially not with WWII Japan as the backdrop.
  • Sagara Sousuke from Full Metal Panic!. Even earlier than when he became a Child Soldier, he witnessed his beautiful mother dying for him, before his eyes. Her last words to him were for him to live, never give up, and fight. This most definitely contributed to his Crazy Survivalist ways in the future. Though, seeing how violent and filled with death his childhood was, he's actually remarkably well adjusted.
  • Gundam 00: Setsuna - who was most likely "inspired" by Sagara Sousuke of Full Metal Panic!. This also happens in the film Blood Diamond, when Solomon's son is kidnapped by rebel troops and turned into a kid soldier.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Misato saw (and miraculously lived through) Second Impact when she was 14. Shinji witnessed his mother's "death" in Unit 01 when he was a toddler.
  • In Code Geass, Nunnally and Lelouch see their mother gunned down in front of them. Nunnally is left crippled from injuries and blind from emotional trauma. For Lelouch, finding out who was responsible for the assassination and getting revenge on them is a major motivation. His father, Emperor Charles, also watched a carriage get dropped on their mother with his brother V.V..
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Brothers Ed and Al try to resurrect their dead mother using alchemy. Al loses his entire body and Ed loses his left leg. Ed then loses his right arm in a (successful) attempt to seal Al in a suit of armor. To make things even worse, the resurrection attempt fails miserably and Al (now sealed in a suit of armor) has to carry his bleeding and half dead brother over to their friend's house to keep him from dying. Ed and Al were 11 and 10 years old respectively.
    • Ed discovers later that the thing they created wasn't actually Trisha. While they both agonize over the fact that they went through so much pain for nothing, they're also immensely relieved that they didn't end up killing their mother a second time.
    • Shou Tucker's ultimate crossing the moral event horizon moment: He turned his own 4-year-old daughter into a Chimera by fusing her with his dog, creating a horrible abomination whose life consisted of pain that would later have to be mercy-killed by Scar.
    • There's also the part in the 2003 anime version where Al is forced to kill the abominable mess of organs and flesh they created in place of their mother, which mostly had her face. Talk about trauma. It doesn't actually die (because it's not that easy to kill a homunculus) and eventually becomes Sloth.
  • As a young child, Mireille Bouquet of Noir saw her parents and brother murdered in their home, which led to her and her uncle fleeing their native Corsica and her becoming an internationally renowned assassin. She had never managed to identify the killers, but swore vengeance against them if and when she ever did track them down. Problem is, the shooter was none other than her partner Kirika, which is played for a major Heroic BSOD in the last five episodes.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!:
    • Before becoming the shounen lead, Negi saw his entire village turned to stone by demons; and Asuna, at the age of four or so, she was the focal point of a war, and saw/partially caused a Floating Continent to be destroyed by accident, presumably killing everyone therenote . She then ends up as a prisoner, forcing Nagi to bust her out. By the end of it when she's finally out of the mess, she's a semi suicidal Broken Bird before the age of ten. Yay! Luckily she got better, sort of. And now the the amnesia is in the process of being undone.
    • Negi's is more complicated, in a bad way. His cousin explained death (specifically, Negi's father's) as "going far away, where you can never see them again." This not five minutes after she told him that his father was a superhero, who would always appear to save anyone in trouble. So Negi spent the next year or so doing increasingly dangerous things to try and get his father to appear, which ended the day the the demons attacked his village. At which point his father did appear. So for the rest of his life, there was always a little voice in his head whispering that the whole thing was his fault. Then it's revealed that the people who ordered the attack on the village were specifically trying to kill Negi, due to him being the son of Arika. So in a way, it was his fault.
  • The child who would grow up to be Afro Samurai saw his father, at the time the Number One, get decapitated by Justice. The head landed at his feet and tried to speak. It didn't get much better for him afterwards. During his quest for revenge, Afro ends up killing a man in front of his adopted son in a manner similar to how his father was killed in front of him. After getting the Number One Headband, Afro hands the Number Two headband to the boy with a quiet "Anytime you're ready."
  • One Piece:
    • When he was about seven, Luffy watched his beloved idol Shanks get his arm ripped off by a sea king while being rescued by the former.
    • Nami watched her surrogate mother get shot in the head and killed. When you consider this and everything else she's been through, it's amazing she's sane.
    • After she fell down the stairs and broke her neck, Zoro saw Kuina's dead body. And some in the audience keep thinking "For the love of God, don't leave the body where the cute 12 year old can see it!" (Certain other things only made it more traumatic for the poor guy.) Understandably, the people at Toei found this disturbing enough to omit from the anime adaptation. (by not showing the body directly, that is.) In the English dub, Zoro had to hear that several of the boys he knew who had also been beaten by Kuina had all ganged up on her and beat her (to death). Which is arguably a much worse death.
    • Robin, so far, beats them all with seeing her entire civilization wiped out in an orgy of violence and explosions, with the three people in the world who were remotely kind to her (including her estranged mother, who had just returned with hell following behind her) murdered in front of her.
    • Sanji, as a kid, was left stranded on a rock in the middle of the ocean. The most traumatic one was when he realized that the other castaway gave away all his food for him, and was forced TO EAT HIS OWN LEG to survive. Talk about traumatizing minors. No wonder that both of them swore that they'll never say no to anyone who asked for food, whoever he is.
  • Ranma ˝: Genma Saotome has a funny idea of raising his son. Genma took his trusting young son at the age of six/ten (depends on version) and proceeded to put him through Training from Hell considered foolhardy and excessive even by others in the series (in which legitimate training techniques include trying to grab chestnuts from an open flame and being suspended in midair by a rope while having a huge boulder swung at the trainee). Said "training" consisted of wrapping Ranma up in jakuwa (dried sausages made from fish meat) and then throwing him into a pit filled with starving cats, over and over again, until Ranma developed a permanent phobia of cats as well as a fear-inducable Berserk Mode in which Ranma's conscious mind switches off and a split personality that believes itself to be a housecat takes over, due to the human personality being unable to handle the terror any more. The kicker is that the training manual noted that this technique had been discontinued for ages because it was functionally useless and invariably killed or permanently traumatized the trainees... it just so happened that the warning was on the next page of the manual, so Genma didn't see it until after he'd finished "teaching" it to Ranma, as he'd been too lazy to bother reading that far beforehand. There are reasons why Genma Saotome will never win "Father of the Year".
  • Naruto
    • A seven year old Sasuke Uchiha returns home to find his entire clan dead, and his older brother Itachi standing over the corpses of his mother and father. When a terrified and bewildered Sasuke asks Itachi what has happened, Itachi kindly uses his Mangekyou Sharingan to force his little brother to relive the massacre of the Uchiha clan for 72 hours. No wonder Sasuke does a Face-Heel Turn after Itachi turns up in Konoha and mindrapes him again.
    • Itachi in turn was motivated to massacre his clan by the fact that they were planning to try to take over the village, thus starting a civil war (and a world war, due to other nations seizing advantage). This prospect was unrelentingly flashing him back to his own childhood, when in the words of Tobi ( Obito), "During the Third Ninja World War, Itachi, barely four years old, witnessed countless people slaughtered in cold blood. A four year-old is still too immature to turn war into experience for a child, war is hell. The trauma turned Itachi into a boy who loathed war and strife, and only desired peace."
    • Hatake Kakashi fought in that Third Ninja World War. He was genin at 5 and chunin by the time he was 6, and considering they were at war at the time I don't think he would have done kid-friendly missions. If Naruto and his friends were involved in life-death fights as 12 year olds during what's supposed to be peace time, what was a 6 year old chunin doing in war time? He also saw his father's body after he committed suicide, saw Obito die at 13, was forced to kill his remaining team-mate Rin soon after, and a month before he hit 14 lost his sensei to the Kyuubi's attack. An adult Kakashi mentions that everyone he cared for is dead.
    • Meanwhile in Wind Country, Gaara's father had the tanuki-like One-Tailed Shukaku, a tailed beast, sealed into his body while Gaara was still in his mother's womb, giving him the power to manipulate sand. The Fourth Kazekage, Gaara's father and the leader of the village of Sunagakure, intended to use Gaara as the village's personal weapon. Gaara was trained by his father throughout his childhood to help gain control over the abilities granted to him by Shukaku. Despite this, Gaara was ostracized by the Sunagakure villagers, who viewed him as a monster for being the host of a tailed beast. Gaara would occasionally snap from the villagers' stares and harm/kill them. These attacks on the villagers convinced Gaara's father that he was a failed experiment, and he ordered Gaara's assassination. All of the attempts on Gaara's life failed, as Shukaku would always protect Gaara from harm and kill the assassin. Realizing that he had been abandoned by his family, Gaara adopted the belief that he could only rely upon himself and Shukaku, and that he had to kill others in order to confirm the value of his own existence.
    • Haku's childhood. Haku's father and mother were simple farmers, and they lived a peaceful life. They loved each other, and were kind to their child. Unfortunately, this all changed one day. Haku's mother was a carrier of a kekkei genkai: Ice Release. She hid this fact from her husband, hoping that the love and peace that was shared in their small family would last forever. One day, Haku discovered the ability to manipulate water. Amazed by this, Haku proudly showed this to his mother, who was horrified by what she saw, and harshly scolded Haku for displaying his ability. Unbeknownst to his mother, Haku's father had seen everything. When Haku's father discovered that his wife and child possessed a kekkei genkai, he assembled a small mob of villagers, and killed his wife. He would have done the same to Haku, but before he could, Haku killed them. Orphaned, Haku became a child who was wanted by no-one and was forced to take to the cold streets and rummage through trash bins for scraps of food, even sometimes having to fight off the wild dogs that roamed the streets. In time, he was found by Zabuza Momochi, who asked Haku to become his "weapon," which meant to become a dedicated kekkei genkai shinobi for Zabuza. Haku readily accepted this role, due to the purpose it gave him, devoting his life to becoming Zabuza's ultimate weapon.
    • As Pain is stabbing Hinata almost to death he tells Naruto, "It was just like this for me too. When I was young my parents were killed before my very eyes by ninja from the Hidden Leaf."
  • Dogs: Bullets & Carnage:
    • When Naoto was a child, she and her parents were attacked by someone with a sword. Her parents put her behind them to protect her from the killer, who in two strokes, quartered them and left Naoto with amnesia and a huge X-shaped scar on her chest.
    • Heine, Giovanni, Lilly (and other children) were experimented on and were forced to kill or be killed to test their new abilities. They watched fellow children get ripped apart by monsters until they realized they could fight back and tore apart the monsters (and sometimes, by accident, each other) with their bare hands.
  • Czeslaw Meyer in Baccano!! is the target of extreme violence, because of his Healing Factor, he has been repeatedly tortured by a man he trusted for 200 years. He finally fights back and kills the man in question, but the only method by which he can do so involves absorbing all of his torturer's memories, meaning that he's stuck with the memory of gleefully torturing himself.
  • Monster. Even disregarding the backstory, at one point Johan very nearly gets a 10-year-old to kill himself by, when he finds out the kid is looking for his mother, sending him into a red light district with the kind, gentle assurance that if no one claims him as their child, he's unwanted and has no reason to live.
  • In Princess Tutu, it's revealed that Fakir's parents were viciously attacked and killed right in front of him by crows as a child. It's made even worse in that the crows were actually trying to attack him because of him misusing his Rewriting Reality powers, and his parents died protecting him. And now you know why he's obsessed with protecting other people.
  • In Chrono Crusade, Satella and her butler are the only survivors of a demon attack that killed her family. Her older sister's badly injured body was carried off by the demon and may or may not be still alive—she's dedicated her life to avenging her family by being a demon-hunter-for-hire, while searching for the demon responsible for the attacks and the fate of her sister.
  • Attack on Titan does not shy away from this at all. Children are shown witnessing all manner of violence, especially when Titans attack populated areas.
    • Eren Yeager and his adopted sister, Mikasa, saw their mother get devoured by a Titan when they were ten.
    • Mikasa was adopted into the Yeager family at the age of nine, after witnessing the brutal murder of her parents. She was kidnapped by the killers, and forced to help Eren kill them to survive.
    • Krista witnessed her mother's throat being slit when she was a child.
    • Reiner and Bertolt barely survived a Titan attack when they were 12 and 11, respectively. They, along with Annie, are also Children Forced To Kill that caused the loss of Wall Maria. The full extent of their trauma is only later revealed.
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni: Six dead people whose stomachs are stuffed with candy? Let's have Maria see it! It's okay. Everyone will be resurrected in the Golden Land. Kihihihihihihihihi.
  • Black Butler:
    • Ciel Phantomhive was such a happy child until his 10th birthday when his parents, house staff, and DOG were murdered, and his house was burned to the ground. He was then captured by some insane cultists. From what's been implied he was beaten and treated as a slave while being kept in a cage with other children around his age. He had to watch other children be sacrificed... and knew he'd eventually be next. No wonder he's a cynical, bitter child now.
    • Alois Trancy in the second season of Black Butler. When he was real young his foster family died in front of him, from unknown supernatural means, including his adoptive brother and only friend, and its heavily implied he was raped and beaten as well.
  • Pokémon:
    • In a flashback during the RS arc of Pokémon Special, this is all but confirmed when a five year old Ruby gets his head slashed at by a Salamance. Little Sapphire was all but mentally scarred by seeing little Ruby smiling at her with blood running down his face.
    • There's also Koya from Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl Adventure. Up until now, he and his Growlithe had been extremely close, having been partners for a rather long time. And then Growlithe got violently whooped by a Gyarados (a Water-type Pokémon, super effective against Growlithe, and who seemed absolutely elated at its condition), so much so that it had to go to the Pokémon Center equivalent of the ER. And just to top it all off, when Growlithe finally awoke, it was so traumatized by the experience that it shrunk into a corner when Koya tried to touch it. No wonder he's a bitter half-pint in the International Police.
  • Busou Renkin has a pair of twins who initially had a happy childhood with a woman who they thought was their mother (she was a spurned lover of their actual father and had kidnapped them as revenge). One day, she died suddenly, and because of the kidnapping, she had made it so that the doors were locked from the inside. So, the children were trapped inside of an apartment with her corpse for several weeks, as their food supply gradually dwindled to nothing. During this time, they were constantly screaming and banging on the walls to be rescued, but their neighbors just shouted back for them to shut up. It's not too surprising that they were left thinking that Humans Are Bastards, and turned evil.
  • Detective Conan:
    • The murders are always drawn realistically, and it becomes pretty shocking when the victim was once a happy-go-lucky guy, now seen with blood covering his face, having shown to have struggled to survive, and his eyes wide-open from the surprise.
    • There's an episode where Ayumi hides in the trunk of a car, ends up being "kidnapped" and finds the decapitated head of a young girl who is assumed to have been killed by two serial killers who kill young girls. But it was just props for a play.
  • Subaru, in Tokyo Babylon, is shown in a Flashback early on making a mysterious bet with Seishirou under a sakura tree. Only later do we see that Seishirou was standing over the corpse of his latest victim at the time.
  • In Dragon Ball, Upa watched his father get murdered by Mercenary Tao.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Son Gohan is kidnapped by his long lost uncle at the age of four, beaten about, forced to watch his father die, kidnapped again by the devil, beaten about some more and left to look after himself in the wilderness for six months. And this is all in the first 5 episodes. No wonder the original dub bumped his age up to 5 and a half.
    • Goten had to watch his mother get murdered by Super Buu.
  • 07-Ghost: Teito Klein had his country invaded and everyone he knew, including his adoptive father, murdered while still a small child, was made a combat slave and forced to kill people daily for training for years and saw his only friend die after he was possessed by the man who killed Teito's father.
  • Zetsuai 1989: When Izumi was five, his mother discovered his father was cheating on her, and murdered him in front of Izumi so that she could "possess him completely". Years after this, after getting out of prison, Izumi's mother goes to him, explains her reasons and kills herself in front of him. After this, it's easy to understand why Izumi becomes so hot-tempered and mistrustful of love.
  • Rurouni Kenshin:
    • Himura Kenshin. Besides losing his parents to illness, being sold into slavery, and seeing the people who took care of him killed by bandits, he was out killing people at 15!
    • Soujiro was an unwanted bastard and resented by the entirety of his father's family who felt inconvenienced in having to raise him and only did it because of appearances. Up until the incident with Shishio, they were horribly abusive and considered him a slave. Shishio just gives Soujiro, who is approximately 8 at the time, the means to make himself a Self-Made Orphan out of self preservation. This does not have a good effect on his mental health.
  • Durarara!! has Anri Sonohara's past. Watching your mother kill your father (who's busy trying to kill you) and subsequently slit her own throat with a smile on her face can not be good for the psyche. It's implied in volume 5 that some of the stuff he had to deal with during his school days extended quite a bit beyond comically one-sided scuffles.
    It had been quite awhile since he'd seen dead bodies.
  • Texhnolyze: When Ichise was a child, his father, Ikuse, was killed for what Ichise believes was betraying his friends and Ichise discovered his fathers mutilated body hanging from the ceiling. A short time after, his mother also died. All he was left with was a vial that contained some of his mother's cells. Soon after, he began his life as a fighter in an underground arena. His life after that was just one extreme Break the Cutie moment after another.
  • Hana to Ryuu: As a child, Kasama Ryuuji watched his parents get murdered before his eyes by a rival Yakuza gang.
  • Shion No Ou: When Shion Yasuoka was a very young child, she witnessed the brutal murder of her parents. The trauma of the event rendered her mute.
  • As a child, Yuri of Angel Beats! witnessed her three younger siblings' murder at the hands of a gang of robbers. This is the root of her anger towards God. It was also her "fault" that they died because she couldn't find money in the house to give to the robbers. They probably would've killed them all regardless, but that doesn't really help Yuri's feelings of guilt.
  • Bleach:
    • When Ichigo was a child his mother got killed and eaten by a Hollow in front of him.
    • Ishida saw his grandfather get killed and eaten by Hollows, with the shinigami nowhere in sight, when he was a child.
    • When Orihime was a baby, her abusive parents would beat her if she made a fuss. Orihime's older brother (who was fifteen at the time) would hide her away and protect her from the beatings.
  • Lin of Fist of the North Star bore witness to her family being murdered by bandits right before her eyes. The sheer trauma of the experience rendered the poor girl unable to speak until Kenshiro came to her village and used his Hokuto Shinken powers to restore her speech.
  • Sora and Sunao of Sukisho were subjugated to immoral experiments by Aizawa when they were children, which included psychological torture and starvation.
  • In Tiger & Bunny, Barnaby witnessed his parents' murder when he was just 4 years old. As a result, he's developed a bad case of post-traumatic stress disorder and a single-minded obsession with getting revenge on the offending party.
  • Taken to the extreme in the Fate/stay night prequel novels (and anime adaptation) Fate/Zero. Not only do we finally get to see some of the horrors Sakura underwent at the hands of the Matou family, but we also get treated to the sight of Uryuu Ryunosuke offering up a small child to Bluebeard, who then cruelly treats that child to a Hope Spot before having him get dragged offscreen by a tentacled abomination to be messily slaughtered an a manner that we can hear all too well.
  • In Mawaru-Penguindrum episode 15 we see that the "antagonist", Yuri Tokikago, is a thoroughly broken person, thanks to her own father, a famous Mad Artist who carved his daughter's body with a chisel to make her "look beautiful" and be worthy of his love, while telling her that no one would ever love her because of how "ugly" she was. This happens in a flashback and, in these scenes, Yuri is no older than 8 years old.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! being set in a world where children's card games rule doesn't save the young Ishtar clan members from being exposed to horrific violence at the hands of their father. The Tomb Keeper initiation in the anime is shown through a Shadow Discretion Shot, but the manga shows just how ten-year-old Malik/Marik got his scars in bloody detail.
  • Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle has Fai, who watched his twin brother die, and believed he caused it and Kurogane, who saw his mother stabbed to death in front of his eyes. Their ages are never given, but they are children at that time.
  • Saiyuki Gaiden:
    • Goku watches his first and only friend in his own age group attempt suicide right in front of him rather than obey his father's order to kill Goku. This is the first time that Goku's power limiter breaks in response to his emotions running out of control, and while some of Nataku's blood does get on him, most of the blood seen immediately afterward is spilled by Goku himself in his rage.
    • For that matter, Nataku himself. Although ages are hard to guess in Heaven, he looks about twelve or so, and since he is an "unclean being", Heaven's laws against killing don't apply to him, and Heaven's Army - encouraged by Nataku's father, who likes the power it gives him and in fact created Nataku for this purpose - uses him as a "killing doll", sending him out to slaughter their enemies. He frequently comes back with severe injuries, and he's the only one of the fighting force with even a scratch.

    Comic Books 
  • At the very of his backstory, Bruce Wayne's parents were killed before his very eyes, which led him to become Batman.
  • In a recent retelling of Captain Marvel's origin story, Billy Batson spends most of it treating the superhero gig as a fun adventure. Then his best friend Scott is fatally shot by assassins sent after Billy by Doctor Sivana, and dies on the operating table despite Billy getting him to the hospital as quickly as possible. Billy as Captain Marvel bursts into Sivana's office and barely stops himself from killing him, then flies off to a deserted snowpeaked mountain and sobs over his best friend's death. Superman isn't happy that Shazam passed the burden of this power onto Billy (though he did it because Billy was the only person on Earth that Shazam could trust with that power) because "[Little kids] shouldn't have to worry about assassins attacking them and killing their best friends!"
  • In IDW's recent Godzilla comics, one of the characters is a young girl who ends up losing her entire family in a kaiju attack. She also witnesses some pretty fucked up stuff during the course of the first series like brutal fistfights and violent kaiju battles. The main protagonist Frank Woods even admits that he dosen't think she'll be able to have a normal childhood after all this.
  • In Green Arrow: Quiver, when Oliver Queen is returned from the dead, part of the villain's plot is to kidnap the boy, Stanley, and expose him to murderous horrors to summon his monster companion. Eventually, the elder and younger Green Arrows come to rescue the kid, but the Monster appears too. The Monster refuses to obey the commands of the villain and eats him alive instead, with Oliver Queen staying aside, thinking it's an appropriate punishment. The Monster then frees Stanley and takes him home to erase all the traumatic memories to restore his innocence and mental health.
  • In one of the Jonny Quest comics ( likely the series from Comico), Dr Quest has to rescue Jonny and Hadji from a dog-fighting ring that had stolen Bandit off the street as a, er, "training target" for the fighting dogs. When the fighting dogs get a shot at the head of the ring, Dr Quest holds the boys' faces against his shoulders so they can't see what happens next.
  • Marv from Sin City was tied to a tree and left overnight as a child and he mentions that he got his signature gun Gladys from a kid in high school, with the implication that he killed him. Considering the city he grew up in, this shouldn't be that surprising.
  • Heavily implied in issue #3 of IDW's My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, where Queen Chrysalis supposedly kills a kitten (off-frame) in front of three little fillies. Just to show them that she can. Yes, it is based on a TV-Y show.
  • The entire basis of the character Todd Casil in Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, being the next-door neighbor of the titular character and a consistent witness to his activities. Todd witnesses things some things that would have adults running in terror. Todd later got his own Spin-Off - Squee - that turned this Up to Eleven, having the six-year-old abducted by aliens, befriended by The Antichrist, and committed to a mental asylum, in addition to his serial killer neighbor and Abusive Parents from the original series.

    Fan Fiction 

    Film 
  • In the Korean monster movie The Host, Hyun-Seo, who is in middle school, is eaten by a monster and then spat out in the monster's lair, as it leaves her for dead. She gets to witness the monster spitting out a large number of dead people in its lair. Later on, she ends up becoming a mother figure to a young homeless boy. If that's not enough, in the end, she dies! The homeless boy lives and ends up being adopted by her father.
  • In Kill Bill Volume 1, assassin O-Ren Ishii's most formative episode happened when she was only seven, when she witnessed the murders of her mother and father at the hands of Boss Matsumoto and his men. She takes vengeance upon them all in very bloody fashion just four years later. Ironically, Beatrix Kiddo inadvertently kills one of her targets, Vernita Green, right in front of her daughter. With the full knowledge of what usually happens to a kid after something like this, Kiddo simply states, "When you grow up, if you still feel raw about it, I'll be waiting." Director Quentin Tarantino has even said he'd like to film that story as a sequel.
  • A rare parodic example occurs in the movie, Kung Pow!: Enter the Fist. The Chosen One, while still a baby, witnesses the murder of his family at the hands of the Big Bad and decides to take revenge on him then and there. (He doesn't defeat the villain, but he does manage to kick a surprising amount of ass considering he's still in diapers.)
  • In Law Abiding Citizen, Clyde Shelton sends Nick Rice a DVD of him torturing and murdering Darby. Rice's daughter is the first to watch it.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984): Freddy was a child killer in life, and he could've been worse. Wes Craven's original plan was to have Freddy be a molester as well, but he trashed the idea to avoid being accused of exploiting a series of highly publicised child molestations in California that occurred while the film was in production.
  • After brutally bludgeoning sister Abagail from her orphanage to death with a hammer, Russian Orphan Esther needed somebody to help her drag the poor nun's body to dump in the frozen river... and the only person nearby at the time was her five year old, deaf little-sister Max..., who also saw her father be killed right in front of her. Quite a few things happened to the brother too.
  • In The Patriot, one of the Benjamin Martin's sons is shot in front of the rest of his children, and then he takes two of the remaining boys—aged between nine and twelve—and slaughters the British soldiers responsible. Their horror as they walk back to their torched house is apparent.
  • The Princess Bride: "Hello. My Name Is Inigo Montoya. You Killed My Father. Prepare to Die."
    Wesley: How old were you?
    Inigo: I was eleven years old. I love my father, so naturally, I challenge his murderer to a duel. I fail.
  • The Purge: Having kids exposed to something like The Purge is a bad idea. The Sandin parents try to protect their kids from this, but it looks like they fail miserably, because at least one of the kids is going to have to use a gun against a gang of psychopathic killers.
  • Played for Laughs in a scene from Spy Kids in which the parents tell the kids to look away, Lampshading a Battle Discretion Shot.
  • In 28 Days Later, teenaged Infection survivor Hannah mostly wades through the gore with a smile on her face until seeing her father get riddled with bullets before her eyes after a drop of tainted blood falls in his eye and infects him with The Virus. She appears to be about 14, but definitely an easily breakable cutie. Later, when a drugged-up Hannah sees Jim and Selena having a bloodsplattered but relieved romantic moment (or is it?) she tries to bash Jim's brains out.
  • In the 2005 The War of the Worlds movie, Rachel sees a ton of dead bodies floating down a river. Later, when committing murder to try to protect her, her father tells her to cover her eyes and ears and sing to herself so as to not have to be exposed to it.
  • In the Holocaust movie The Grey Zone, children are killed in the gas chambers along with the adults, as in real life. The Hungarian girl who miraculously survived has to further witness all the participants of the uprising being shot moments before she's shot herself.
  • The machine-gunner in the helicopter in Full Metal Jacket, when asked how he can shoot down women and children:
    Gunner: Easy! Ya just don't lead 'em so much!

    Literature 
  • In Phenomena is a small elf boy whipped again and again for having escaped the village he works in. It's even featured on a cover. What Do You Mean, It's for Kids? moment.
  • Inverted in Carpe Jugulum. At the end, a village finally gets to kill the offending vampires, and Perdita (the other, usually more cynical half of Agnes Nitt's Split Personality) expresses concern that they're bringing the children with them. Agnes (a witch) calmly says that it's a good thing, as "...everyone has to know the monster is dead, and remember, so that they can tell their grandchildren."
  • Then there's Great Aunt Ada Doom of Cold Comfort Farm, who "saw something nasty in the woodshed". We never find out what, although Raymond Briggs suggests it was Fungus the Bogeyman.
  • Dexter's backstory includes him witnessing his mother being murdered by chainsaw, then spending two days locked in a shipping container with her body (among other ex-people), in a three-inch deep pool of blood. He was three at the time. This is used as a Freudian Excuse for Dexter and his brother both becoming serial killers.
  • Redwall: Word of God is that Kid Hero Matthias was the murine equivalent of thirteen years old during the war, when he splatted Cluny with the church bell. Some of the other heroes are even younger. Sometimes the Dibbuns (canonical slang for babies and preschool-age children) actually help with the battles, as when Silent Sam (at the age of about two) came up with the idea of dropping a hornet's nest on the bearers of a battering ram, when Dumble tried (admittedly not very successfully) to fight off the crows which were attacking him and Thrugg, or when the kids in Mariel of Redwall sneaked onto the walltop and cut the ropes the searats were climbing up. None of them seem to suffer any lasting emotional damage.
  • The Reynard Cycle:
    • Young Martin and Rukenaw witness the slaughter of their friends and family in The Baron of Maleperduys. Later, Martin's own violent death transforms Rukenaw into a Broken Bird.
    • In Defender of the Crown, the Glyconese ambassador has one of the Myrmidons break a fellow slave's neck to make a point to an eight-year-old boy.
  • 10-year-old Arya in A Song of Ice and Fire spends a few weeks watching people get tortured every night. And her sister Sansa having to endure the violent attentions of her fiance Joffrey, watching people get killed while enduring her share of physical abuse as well.
  • Aral Vorkosigan, of the Vorkosigan Saga, was 11 when he his mother and siblings were all killed in front of him. He then fights a bloody civil war, which they win and is given first cut in the execution of the leader of the other side, at about 13.
  • Partly avoided but occasionally invoked in Tales of the Branion Realm, a medieval fantasy series in which most characters are squired to older warriors at age twelve. There's Demnor, who at five walks into the middle of an assassination attempt on himself, and is surrounded and comforted by bloodied, injured and terrified guards moments after he's seen them kill all the assassins. Discussed with his ancestor Kassandra, who (also aged five) isn't supposed to order executions until she's adult, so what should her protectors do if she demands one without really understanding what death means? They later take her onto the battlefield, where she can mentally sense every death; justified because her army has to see her leading it, since she's a living symbol of the realm. An Angst Nuke nearly results.
  • a large part of Animorphs, where the young teen protagonists regularly see and participate in covert but full on warfare.
  • Harry Potter sees countless people die, suffers from PTSD, goes on the run from the government, fights in a war, and just narrowly avoids getting killed eight different times before he's even turned eighteen.
  • The works of Roald Dahl feature brutal and unjust punishments on children — from Disproportionate Retribution, to Cant Get Away With Nothing, to Miscarriage of Justice by antagonists determined to punish children because of their innocence — all with a frequency that betrays an author with a deep contempt for children. His books get past Moral Guardians due to the Grandfather Clause, but could similar works published today be permitted for the same demographic?

    Live Action TV 
  • In the episode "The Thirteenth Step" from Criminal Minds, the Outlaw Couple held a little girl hostage. She witnessed her father being beaten up, dragged away to another room and heard the gunshot that killed him. Later, she would see one of her hostage takers being shot in the shoulder and later killed by stranglation by her partner.
  • LOST: Sawyer's father killed his mother, then shot himself in the head. The latter he did while sitting on Sawyer's bed, unaware Sawyer (who was about eight years old) was hiding underneath it.
  • In one episode of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, when a gangster threatened to shoot John, Derek brought out a little girl that was found in the backroom, believing her to be his daughter. However, the gangster still refused to let John go, so Derek calmly covered the girl's eyes and shot the gangster in the head. Fortunately for her, he wasn't the little girl's father. Still, she must have been terrified to witness such a scene.
  • A major feature of the childhoods of the Winchester brothers in Supernatural, particularly Dean. Sam, at around 11 or 12, wrote about killing a werewolf with his family in a 'what I did over summer' school paper. Like Sam, Dean was hunting monsters from a young age, but he was solely responsible for Sam's care for days on end while his father hunted alone. Plus seeing the fire which killed his mother.
  • Emily Yokas of Third Watch was held hostage by armed robbers in a bank during Season 4 and saw her mother Faith, an NYPD cop, kill the hostage taker. She later asked her mother how many people she'd killed when on the job, and it was later mentioned she'd been seeing a shrink to help her get over this. In Season 6, she was held hostage by a man who thought he was a vampire, and wanted her to see him kill her mother. She sees Bosco kill the guy. And in the very next episode, taking place later that night, she sees the 55th Precinct firebombed by a gang.
  • This was the backstory of Callisto, recurring Big Bad to Xena: Warrior Princess. Callisto saw Xena destroy her village, which broke her. And on a more personal level saw her family burned alive.
  • The Walking Dead, naturally, since it's set in a Zombie Apocalypse:
    • Carl Grimes, Rick's son, started out being mostly shielded from the violence by his mother Lori, until witnessing the deaths of Sophia and Dale in season 2. Carl eventually is forced to take a level in badass to survive, and eventually gets around not only killing walkers on his own but he actually has to put a knife through his beloved mother's brain when she dies by childbirth for her not to become a walker. One could say you can't get worse than that, but if you've seen this show, you know it really, really can.
    • Sopia Peletier, Carol's daughter, witnessed violence even before the apocalypse started! Her father Ed was abusive towards both her and Carol, although he becomes one of the series' first casualties. Sophia, however, gets killed in season 2 by walkers off-screen in season 2, and would be later found by the group in the barn full of walkers in the Greene farm, turned into one of them. Rick putting down zombie!Sophia while Carol cries her heart out quickly turned into one of the series' most iconic scenes.
    • The Governor's Morality Pet is his daughter Penny, who was killed and turned by walkers early on the apocalypse, but he keeps her chained up in a locked room because he still thinks of her as his daughter. Michonne later finds Penny and kills her (aware of who she was to him). It does not end well.
    • In season 4, The Governor gets a Replacement Goldfish for Penny in the form of Meghan Chambler, who by the end of her first appearance is trapped in a pit with three walkers and has to be saved by The Governor. She is killed as well, eaten by walkers just like Penny.
    • Lizzie Samuels' exposure to violence in the apocalypse caused her to become a complete psychopath who literally kills and dissects rabbits for fun, and even tried to choke Judith (a baby) to death once. And as if that's not bad, she later kills her little sister Mika with a knife in "The Grove".
  • Lindsay's backstory on CSI NY involved her being the only survivor of a crazed killer massacring her friends when she was a teenager. Several characters of the week count too.
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Sara saw her mother kill her father when she was a child.
  • Dexter Morgan and his brother Brian witnessed their mother being butchered to death with a chainsaw while locked in a shipping container. This was directly adapted from the first book, before the show took a different route than that of the books.
    • At the end of season 4, Dexter arrives home to find his wife Rita dead in the bathtub, on a pool on her own blood and with their baby Harrison in front and crying its' lungs out. It's implied he witnessed the death of his mother, and Dexter spends the entire following season worrying Harrison will end up like him.
  • An episode of Breaking Bad had Jesse going after a couple of meth heads who had stole his meth from Skinny Pete. He finds out they have a little kid, which they don't really care about and sometimes leave alone for days. Although Jesse makes him look the other way, the kid's still in the room when his mother snaps and kills his father by dropping an ATM on his face.

    Music 
  • In The Who's concept album/rock opera Tommy, the titular character sees his supposedly deceased father kill his mother's lover, rendering Tommy deaf, blind, and dumb (in the film version the mother's lover who kills the father).

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • Red Dead Redemption
    • In one of the final missions, John and his wife Abigail talk about how their son Jack saw things no boy should see when they all used to run in the gang.
    • As a young teen, Jack sees his father and uncle killed. It's no wonder he grows up to bea murderer.
  • In Suikoden II, Pilika, a 4 year old girl, is forced to witness the murder of her parents by Luca Blight in a terrifying Moral Event Horizon moment. Then again, the same thing happened to Luca when he was a child, and he also witnessed his mother being RAPED.
    • Pilika becomes mute however after she witnesses Pohl, a teenager, get run through by the sword of Luca Blight and an attempt was made by Luca to run her through!!!! Luckily, she is saved.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty:
    • Raiden is a former Child Soldier.
    • Vamp had a tragic upbringing in his native Romania. The church he was attending was bombed, pinning him beneath a crucifix, where he was forced to drink the blood of those killed in the blast (including his family) to survive.
  • All four members of the Beauty and the Beast Unit in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots have witnessed unspeakable carnage as children. The psychological trauma is so severe that they will suffer from lethal mental breakdown if they are removed from their protective suits.
  • Bella Monroe in Siren: Blood Curse gets to witness her mother's friend turn into a zombie in Episode 3, then in Episode 9, sees her mother burn to death. In Episode 10, her mother is a zombie herself. Plus the missions where you have to protect her while playing as a different character, and Bella can witness you killing the various enemies while she follows you.
  • Tales of the Abyss:
    • Guy's Laser-Guided Amnesia and mental tics turn out to be a result of his sister being murdered by Kimlascan soldiers before his eyes, and by him subsequently being trapped in a pile consisting of her corpse, as well as the corpses of all the house maids, and having to dig his way out of it. At the age of five.
    • Twelve is how old Saphir was when he watched one of the only people who'd ever really cared about him burn to death, and then be resurrected as a bloodthirsty monster. No wonder he's so screwed up.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • In Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, it turns out that when he was about seven years old, Ike saw his father kill his mother and was so shocked that he nearly strangled Mist, until Sephiran intervened and brainwashed Ike to forget what he had just witnessed.
    • The remake of Mystery of the Emblem reveals that Ogma was forced to compete in brutal Gladiator Games as a child. Though he may not show it, it's clear the experience severely traumatized him, to the point where he doesn't want anyone bringing up his past.
  • The Metroid series has maintained in the story that Samus is the only survivor of Pirates raiding her colony when she was three, and was taken in and raised by Chozo as a result, for about the past decade. However, with the 2005 manga, it was revealed that not only was Samus the only survivor, but she witnessed the entire thing, complete with obligatory Blood-Splattered Innocents shot. The event was so traumatic, she didn't properly remember the details until the ripe old age of 14, where she witnessed yet another massacre, this time of her Chozo family.
  • Sena in Chaos;Head was brought in on the last day of the two year experiment involving her mother. Up till then, her mother had been living happily with her infant daughter, her kind neighbor and a housekeeper. Except then the delusion machine was turned off and her mother realized she was holding a mummified infant's corpse that had died about a month after the experiment started. She then proceeded to flip out, eat the dead baby, bang her head on the wall and then stab herself through the eye. Naturally, she's not exactly pleased with her father who initially thought of the experiment and couldn't bring himself to end it when the baby died, because he wanted to prolong her happiness as much as he could. Didn't turn out well.
  • Fate/stay night: During the end of the previous Holy Grail War, the Grail was destroyed and black ichor set part of the town aflame. At the very worst part of the blaze was young Shirou, who crawled and hobbled past countless other residents as they burned to death. After having gone outside on an impulse, his house collapsed and his family died. He was the only survivor from that part of the town. The experience was enough to destroy his former personality (or maybe any sense of self, not clear) and rewrote him around the single idea that saving people makes you happy. Also, Sakura, but that was mostly stuff being done to her rather than in front of her.
  • In Clock Tower, Jennifer is definitely exposed to much more than a teenaged girl that isn't even 16 should have to put up with, and then some.
  • Early on in Mother3, the young Lucas and Claus end up witnessing their mother, Hinawa, torn to pieces by a giant mechanized dinosaur Drago. additionally, at the end of the game Lucas can only watch while his brother, who he learned was killed much earlier on in the story, is back as an emotionless cyborg which he has to battle, alone, to reach the final Needle. Additionally additionally, Lucas can only watch while, after his brother is finally released from Porky's control, his brother Claus kills himself.
  • Normally fairly idealistic on the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, Touhou has Fujiwara no Mokou, whose father committed suicide in front of her after humiliation and social ostricization from Kaguya, whom Mokou's father had tried to marry, along with countless other suitors of Kaguya, who did it frequently for laughs. At the time, she swore her life for a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, killed Kaguya's adoptive parents, and became truly immortal like Kaguya to perpetuate eternal warfare against her archnemesis. By the time of the events in-game, however, Mokou has mellowed out, expressed regret over the murder of Kaguya's adoptive parents, and seems to just want to live as peaceful an eternal life as she can, although Kaguya enjoys keeping rivalry going (and Mokou still has an obvious deep grudge against her) by sending out the heroines to kill her a few times for fun. Mokou is, however, very much a loner, and doesn't like being near people or becoming emotionally attached, (even though she is even willing to help Kaguya's friends or servants or even team up with Kaguya when others are in need, proving she is good at heart) perhaps because of emotional scars, whether because she wants to avoid a Mayfly-December Romance or because of It's Not You, It's My Enemies.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, you can learn a rather disturbing story about Cook-Cook, in which he buys three child slaves, two girls and a boy, and forces the girls to watch as he torches the boy with a flamethrower. The slavers who sold him the kids decide not to do business with him after that little incident.
  • Persona 3 Backstory for Ken Amada is that he's an orphan and that his mother died two years ago. Okay. The fact that his mom is apart of an Accidental Murder was ignored until it's too late and he's about to kill her murderer, fellow teammate Shinjiro.
  • In Vanguard Bandits, little girl Nana witnesses her father's murder after he's failed in his goals.
  • Esperia has the worst background of the cast in Eien no Aselia. All spirits are raised as weapons, but as the oldest spirit she was the only one trained by Soma. Spirits 'tuned' by Soma end up as soulless living weapons. Details on the process are vague, but it appears to involve utterly destroying a person's spirit and sense of worth with sexual abuse implied. Everyone she knew became a soulless thing that would not hesitate a moment to kill her and she was beaten and tortured frequently. Without Rask she would have ended up just like them.
  • Tiny Tina from Borderlands2, as revealed through a series of audio logs, saw her parents violently butchered for slag research by Handsome Jack. She escaped thanks to her parents slipping her a grenade. As evident when you meet her, she's not all there anymore after what she saw.
  • Resident Evil 2: Poor, poor Sherry Birkin; as if being the daughter of two half-insane Mad Scientist parents (one who turns into a hell of an abomination of a Final Boss, courtesy of the G-Virus) that usually left her alone weren't bad enough, she gets caught up in Raccoon City's Zombie Apocalypse along with Leon and Claire. There is a small portion of Claire's scenario that allows you to play as her. Naturally, she can't defend herself, and has the honor of being the only non-adult character who can get brutalized by zombies and the like. She has a lot of issues from this, naturally; this is touched on in Resident Evil 6, where she's now an adult.
  • Final Fantasy XIII: Hope. Oh so much. First, he sees his mother killed by the army, then he is forced to fight against Cie'th (zombies), becomes a l'Cie and spends the rest of the game constantly hunted by the army. Oh, and that time he gets blown off a rooftop. He's only 14 by the way.
  • The title character of the Sly Cooper series witnesses his parents' brutal murder at the age of eight.
  • Given that the franchise is a major aversion of hiding children in media, Clementine of The Walking Dead is forced to endure a lot of trauma. Kenny and Katjaa's son Duck is in the same situation and he even dies, but Clem gets the worst of it just by virtue of how much she experiences.

    Web Comics 
  • Gunnerkrigg Court:
    • Annie isn't moved by things like a dragon crashing through her roof or a shapeshifter attacking her. When she was 6 years old she walked into illusionary inferno just to give a lost soul some Cooldown Hug. When wounded by a sword-swinging ghost she was naturally frightened... until the ghost left — only to curse her "lack of self-control" later. Though even she has her limits:
    • The court robots show Annie and Kat (who are 13) a video in which a spurned Stalker with a Crush engineers a Fate Worse than Death as part of a Powered by a Forsaken Child plan for said crush, all while living in denial of what is done. The murder is then covered up by the people who used to run Annie and Kat's "school". Their reaction is unsurprising.
  • The Order of the Stick: Vaarsuvius' children are attacked by an ancient dragon, one of their parents is nailed to a tree alive, and then the attacker is torn to pieces from the inside in front of them... by their other parent, the elven wizard Vaarsuvius him-/herself, who had gone off the deep end and made a Hell Pact with evil fiends to become powerful enough to fight the dragon. Too bad There Are No Therapists.
    • Vaarsuvius using a spell to commit the near-genocide of all black dragons right in front of them!
  • In Sonichu, Sandy Rosechu hatches from her egg moments after her mom is declared dead from an assassination, then being told by Magi-Chan that a guy named Evan killed her mom. When Evan and three other people are sentenced to death, her father encourages her to murder the ever-loving crap out of Evan. Which she does. It's not established how messed up her mind is after the exposure and participation to violence or even if she's even affected by it at all.

    Western Animation 
  • In Metalocalypse, Murderface's father killed his wife with a chainsaw before dismembering himself. In front of baby Murderface. Murderface didn't seem very concerned when it was happening, but remembering made him wet himself.
  • Gargoyles
    • In the episode "Hunter's Moon", three young children watch their father fall to his death from a building, as the Big Bad Demona flies away laughing. The three kids go on to become gargoyle hunters. The comics show that the kids ran into the building afterwards - and got lost in a catacomb.
    • Katharine heard the Archmage nearly kill Prince Malcolm in "Long Way to Morning," Tom saw Constantine kill Kenneth (and was later shown to have suffered a Heroic BSOD as a result) in "Avalon, Part One," Macbeth saw the Hunter kill his father in "City of Stone, Part One," and Malcolm Canmore saw Macbeth kill Duncan in "City of Stone, Part Three."
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender, being a show about war, often delves into this. The two most obvious would be Katara witnessing a man threatening her mother (and the implication of finding her corpse afterward), and the flash-back to young Jet watching his entire village and family get burned down.
    • Considering Aang's young age of twelve, his reaction when he comes across the skeletons of his entire culture, including his Parental Substitute and mentor Gyatso also qualifies.
    • In The Legend of Korra, Mako witnessed both his parents get burned to death when he was eight. He and his brother then had to fend for themselves on the streets, getting into more than their share of scuffles and gang violence.
  • A lot of Disney movies with parental deaths would qualify. Bambi had to face the cold hard truth that his mother was never going to come back after escaping from hunters who killed his mother. Simba was even worse, watching his father die right in front of him by falling off a cliff and trampled by wildebeests while convinced it was entirely his fault that he died right up until the end.
  • Littlefoot from The Land Before Time watched his mother get torn apart by a T-rex and die while she rushed him and Cera to safety during a devastating earthquake. This also extended to Real Life as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas edited alot of the footage consisting of the young dinosaurs in severe situations of peril or stress for fear it would cause psychological damage to young children.
  • Young Justice:
    • Artemis and her sister Jade/Chesire. They were raised and trained by criminals, and it is very heavily implied that they saw or did things grown adults would flinch at. There's also Garfield Logan, aka Beast Boy, who saw his mom die.
    • Robin (Dick Grayson) as in all his backstories, saw his parents killed via sabotage when he was eight, and was trained as a vigilante shortly after. At 13, he'd seen a lot of violence.

Kids being exposed to sexuality

    Anime & Manga 
  • Full Metal Panic!: The Creepy Twins Yu Fan and Yu Lan have been repeatedly raped by Gates ever since they were young.
  • Glass Fleet: As a young child, Vetti was molested and raped by his foster father. His foster mother even knew about it and did nothing to stop it. This becomes his Freudian Excuse for much of his actions, and his redemption at the end of the series.
  • Kira of Mars was raped by her stepfather when she was fourteen years old. As a result, she became averse to male touch and shy to the point of muteness. When her mother asked the stepfather back into their home, Kira did not react well.
  • Apollos Song: Early in the story, the protagonist Shogo not only reveals that as a child, his mother went of with countless men to the point where he does not know his biological father, but also that when going to his mother's room to have a talk, he accidentally sees her having sex (or possibly about to) in one of her numerous affairs, whereupon she eventually proceeds to beat him with a broomstick repeatedly, but not before Shogo answers his irate mother's question about what he just saw by saying that he saw Mama and Papa "doing naughty things". Because of this, he developed an intense hatred of romance, hence why he turned out the way he did.

    Comic Books 
  • Part of Rorschach's backstory in Watchmen; He walked in on his prostitute mother "servicing" a client; this is implied to be part of the reason for his aversion to sexuality.

    Fanfiction 
  • Brainbent has Dave, whose brother makes porn to pay the rent. Dave occasionally saw him doing so, and often walked in on his brother having sex that wasn't for the porn. On the one hand, this did occasionally happen by accident, such as Dave walking through their apartment and seeing Bro and his current girlfriend on the couch. In addition, Bro pretty much had a heart attack at the thought of forcing Dave to see or participate in it, to his credit. On the other hand, he never actually did anything to prevent Dave from seeing it, and he left dildos and the like lying around their apartment. It takes Dave a long time to realise that while Bro was genuinely trying to raise him well, what he did was not OK and Dave himself is also not OK.
  • Ai Yori Aoshi Koi: Chika discovers Kaoru and Aoi's Secret Relationship when she walks in on them getting intimate in the bathroom.

    Film 
  • In Lawn Dogs, Devon witnesses her mother cheating on her father, and also twice sees two other adults getting it on.
  • Psycho IV The Beginning, a TV-movie made in 1990, we are informed that Norman Bates had - among other things - a sensual relationship with his mother... resulting in her punishing him for his erection when she saw it after asking him to rub suntan lotion on her legs. Which spurred him on to murder her when she got a boyfriend, donning her persona in order to keep her in his life.
  • Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life, an anti-pornography movie seemingly written by the Moral Guardians themselves, features a minor stumbling upon his older brother's porn viewing. The experience leaves him unable to talk, eat without prompting or do anything other than stare blankly into the distance. A few scenes later he has developed a fetish for something so terrible, the film wouldn't even name it.
  • The slow spiral to madness of the main character in Christmas Evil starts when he witnesses his father, dressed as Santa Claus, having sex with his mother.
  • In Pusher 2, nobody seems to care that Tonny's kid half-brother gets a faceful of a stripper until much later in her "performance".

    Literature 
  • Bran, a seven year old boy in A Song of Ice and Fire, watches a brother and sister having sex. The incident actually grants him a prophetic sight. That, and the coma that came after the said brother saw Bran, threw him out of the tower's window, thus breaking his back, leaving him crippled for the rest of his life.
  • Many examples of this in the works of V. C. Andrews.
  • It's part of sex offender Fred Lauren's backstory in Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's Lucifer's Hammer.
  • Strongly implied in Henry James's novella The Turn of the Screw.
  • In I Have A Bed Made Of Buttermilk Pancakes, Cassie Zing knows that her mother writes erotic fiction (without reading the examples we get to see), and can spell words like "f**k" and "c**t". She's also extraordinarily perceptive. So when she submits her entry for the school play, she writes a story where two teachers get their students to teach the class while they have sex. She also includes the two aforementioned swear words, without realising that they're unacceptable in school. And she's also seven. She has no idea what this "sex" thing IS, and the one scene where the teachers are supposed to be "haveing" it actually consists of one asking the other what the swear words actually mean (as she herself has no idea).
  • According to his book, The Thunderbolt Kid, Bill Bryson walked in on his parents having sex when he was a boy. His father tried to cover, saying that Bill's mother was just "checking his teeth". According to Bryson, it was a long time before he ever left his mother check his teeth again. On the other hand, he claims that when he did work it out, he was cheered by the health of his parents' relationship. Or at least by the fact that they weren't crippled by the shame of sexuality, other than the conception of children, that he perceived as dominating middle-class Americans at the time.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Being Human, Mitchell befriends a child named Bernie and offers to lend him a DVD of a silent movie; Bernie takes the wrong DVD and ends up watching a porn film made by one of Mitchell's vampire friends. Bernie doesn't seem scarred by it, but his mother is not happy, and accuses Mitchell of being a pervert.
  • On Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, the main character and his friend Curtis once watched a home-made sex tape starring Curtis' grossly obese parents. The experience scarred Todd for life, giving him a crippling fear of fat people. (Which was a plot point, as that episode's Monster of the Week was turning people fat.) Curtis was unaffected.
  • Shameless (US) is known for doing this:
    • Debbie (13), Carl (12) and Liam (2) Gallagher share the house with Fiona (21/22) and Lip (17/18), and both had multiple sexual experiences in their house and with the kids still in. In fact, on the very first episode Fiona and Steve have sex on the kitchen about two minutes after they went upstairs, and they were quite loud. It's also implied Carl walked in on Lip and Karen once.
    • Karen started having sex when she was eleven years old. Mandy is also implied to have started around the same time; when Debbie tells Mandy that she isn't sure if she's ready to have sex with her new boyfriend (her first time), Mandy's response is "you're 13, why did you wait so long?"
    • This is the reason why Mandy asks Fiona to keep her younger half-sister Molly at the Gallaghers instead of Mandy's house:
      Lip: We're not putting her in a house where the father has a habit of raping his daughter in his sleep.

    Music 

    Video Games 

    Webcomics 
  • Catching her father cheating on her mother with another woman was Susan's Freudian Excuse for becoming a Straw Feminist in El Goonish Shive.
  • Ménage ŕ 3, revealed that Yuki was inadvertently exposed to her father's tentacle porn at a very early age (she looks about 5 years old) which heavily contributed to her "dickiphobia" later in life. Her father is the "Tentacle King", a world renowned hentai artist so the stuff was his own creation. At some other time, her father brought Yuki to a set filming a live-action adaptation of his tentacle porn because he couldn't find a babysitter. In the present day, the sight of a penis (real or illustrated) causes her to hallucinate seeing tentacles coming out of the guy's crotch. He then named the main character in one of his hentai series after her. Or possibly the other way round. It's unclear which is worse.
  • In Sinfest, the Devil Girl In Training program terrifies the innocent and child-like Enlightened Drones. The green succubus turns it off and goes to soothe them.

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy:
    • The strangler in the episode "Fat Guy Strangler" murders fat guys because when he was a child, he walked in on his mother with Jackie Gleason.
    Jackie Gleason: Pow! Right in the kisser!
    • An earlier episode had Stewie walking in on his parents. He showed more trauma than Bart, though it was also played for comedy.
  • Another Metalocalypse example: Skwisgaar's mom, Serveta Skwigelf, was a very promiscuous slut, a fact he won't argue with. A flashback showed him coming home from school to be greeted by the sight of Serveta having a threesome. On the plus side, it did take him on the road to being a guitar god.
  • This was played for comedy in The Simpsons, when a young Bart's first words were in response to walking in on his parents when he was a toddler. Bart saw it again when he was ten; Milhouse just tells him that seeing both parents doing it is better than seeing only one parent doing it.
  • Moral Orel: After Principal Fakey discovers he has gonorrhea from having sex with Nurse Bendy, he assumes that his wife cheated on him as he's having sex with her. He angrily goes to confront his wife about . . . by walking out of the nurse's office throughout the school hallway without putting his pants back on.
  • South Park:
    • In the episode "Return of the Ring to the Two Towers", Stan's parents rent "the single-most hardcore porno ever made", Backdoor Sluts 9, and accidentally mix up which one they gave to the kids to lend to their friend Butters, with all the boys Role Playing as original characters. Butters subsequently acts very much like Gollum (Verbal Tics and all) when the boys take it back, prompting them to convene a council to figure out what the hell is up with that movie. They send Token into the house to watch it (minimizing its "evil influence") - he comes back out with his regular clothing on and says "I'm out".
    • Lampshaded by "Good time with weapons", where Butters ends up with a shuriken in his eye, bleeding out, disguised as a dog crying pathetically "Woof, woof." but when Cartman sneaks by naked THIS TROPE is what people are outraged about.

Kids being exposed to both

    Anime and Manga  
  • Berserk:
    • Guts has had it rough as a kid. Spending his life on battlefields definitely qualified him for the "horrific violence" part of this trope, but we lost all sympathy for his mentor/father figure Gambino when he sold young Guts as a sex slave for three silver coins to the pederastic soldier Donovan, who raped Guts and who Guts murdered for it afterward. Gambino met his fate not long after when he got drunk and tried to kill Guts, blaming him for the death of his lover, who had adopted the boy but died of an illness that he also had. It was probably not a good idea to mention that he sold him to Donovan, as Guts killed him immediately after. As one final backhand from Fate to Guts, he saw his adoptive mother die - from the plague - when he was three. (The universe has had it in for him from birth - his adoptive mother picked him up, umbilical still attached, from underneath a woman's corpse hanging on a tree.)
    • Casca's village impoverished and starvation being a large threat, she has to work for a noble, who took her with him when he passed by one day, to take a bit of the load off her family. However, turns out he didn't want her for cleaning or cooking, but rather as a sexual slave. She is fortunately saved when Griffith shows up and tosses her a sword with the words "If you have something you wish to protect, then take up that sword." She kills the would-be rapist and becomes devoted to Griffith and his cause. Her life in the present isn't much better however, thanks to what happened to her during the Eclipse, particularly at the hands of Griffith himself.
  • Black Lagoon:
    • Hansel and Gretel start off as completely unsympathetic Creepy Twins / Psychos For Hire. It turns out though that they have quite possibly the single most horrific and perverse example of a Freudian Excuse that you will ever find: when the Romanian government was overthrown and the orphanages were shut down, the two, along with other kids, were sold into the black market to be playthings for hardcore sex-freaks and ground up for hog chow in the end. Hansel and Gretel were spared this fate only because a particularly twisted sicko made them participate in Snuff Films as a special sideshow, and in their desperation, the two learned how to kill so they could entertain their twisted clientele night after night. And over time, they drew it all in, learning to love killing people in general and choosing to become trained animals working for the guy in charge of the video racket.
    • Garcia has it rough in the El Baile de la muerte arc. It starts with his father being killed by a bomb and just gets worse from there. He has to witness Roberta, his family's head maid and surrogate mother figure, go insane and revert to her "Bloodhound" persona during her quest for revenge. At one point he eavesdrops on Roberta as she tricks an enemy into letting down his guard by seducing him. He has to listen to them make out before Roberta brutally finishes the guy off. When Roberta discovers Garcia in the room, she is way past batshit insane and thinks he isn't real — and prepares to shoot him to dispel the illusion. Garcia is forever changed by this experience — and not for the better.
  • Shingen from Durarara!! not only let his (then four-year-old) son Shinra witness the surgical vivisection of a naked, unanesthesized headless woman, but handed him a scalpel and let him cut her open himself. It should be no surprise that Shinra grew up kind of weird as a result.
  • This trope doesn't even begin to describe some of the horrific things that the diclonii and other children of Elfen Lied had to go through. Many of them have gone through the "horrific violence" part of the trope, and some (like Lucy in her Start of Darkness) actually cause it. And what the human Mayu and the diclonius Number 28 in the manga horribly fulfils the sexuality part of the trope.
  • The titular girls of the anime Gunslinger Girl have each had something nasty of "exposure to horrific violence," "exposure to sexuality," or more frequently both, happen to them in their past to necessitate going through the process of becoming a cyborg. Henrietta's past involves watching her family killed and then being brutally assaulted by their murderers. Angelica was run down by her father in an effort to collect on her insurance policy. But the worst by far was Triela, who was involved in snuff films and horribly abused both physically and sexually. The fact that most of the girls have their memories erased prior to becoming cyborgs is a blessing even in the Gray and Grey Morality of the series.
  • Seras Victoria from Hellsing. Poor, sweet Seras, who seems a cheerful and upbeat girl for most of the manga, has a rather dark and disturbing backstory, which seems to have happened when she was very young. It consists of her father being murdered by burglars, her mother hiding her in a cupboard to protect her, and her mother's subsequent murder by the same burglars. Seras tries to exact revenge by stabbing one of the guys in the eye with a fork. She gets a gutshot for her trouble and one of the perpetrators proceed to rape her mother's corpse, due to it being "still warm". In full view of Seras who lies on the ground bleeding profusely watching it happen and unable to do anything to stop it.
  • Soubi in Loveless had a pretty screwed up childhood. He was trained to be "Fighter" and to be subservient to his "Sacrifice," which involved being whipped to the point of not feeling the pain anymore. Natch, he also gets the second type through his teacher, Ritsu, who sexually abused Soubi in order to get revenge on Soubi's mother, who married another man. Ouch. Needless to say, as an adult Soubi is a rather screwed up individual.
  • Sohryu Asuka Langley of Neon Genesis Evangelion. When she was still a child her mother went insane and at one point asked Asuka to die together with her. Asuka later discovered her mother's body after she committed suicide (in the manga, her mother actually tried to strangle her at some point before the suicide). Around the same time her father had an affair with her mother's doctor, to the point where they even had sex in the hospital within earshot of Asuka. And just to top it all off, he ended up marrying the doctor shortly after his wife's suicide, and in the manga Asuka ended up with a half-sister who she always felt she had to compete with just to put the icing on the cake.
  • Now and Then, Here and There is made of this trope. Forget Earn Your Happy Ending. If you're lucky you can manage a Bittersweet Ending.
  • Souma of Sakura Gari has a very Dark and Troubled Past which, due to his gorgeous looks, consists of him getting touched constantly by people (including his mother in that way), being persuaded by his friend Katsuragi into wanting to kill his mother due to him being angry with her and when Souma couldn't go through with it Katsuragi took Souma's hand (that held a knife) and forcibly made him cut his mother's wrists while she was naked in a bathtub which causes her death, and Souma watched this happen completely horrified. And Katsuragi also involved himself with Souma when he was still a child as well.
  • Touyama of Texhnolyze is quite lethal in battle with simply his fists, or with a katana. This is because he had a troubled childhood growing up in the slums of Lux. He father continually molested him and he was stuck around people who did nothing with their lives. In order to escape from that and make something of himself, he joined Organ, a organization that routinely kills members of the Alliance.
  • In Witchblade Masane Amaha didn't want her own daughter seeing her in the battle form, which just so happens to be Stripperific Blood Knight Armor with Unstoppable Rage and Orgasmic Combat tendencies. Then it's subverted with vengeance: Anime-viewing kid very mature for her age is going to be so scared of superficial shapeshifting, especially when there was a real threat around... The only thing Rihoko (her daughter) saw when Masane finally had to transform before her eyes was Mommy in a different outfit, still the same woman she loved and respected.
  • When she was a child, Altena of Noir lived in a country that had been leveled by war. A soldier finds her wandering alone, already looking utterly shell-shocked and hollow, and rapes her. This was the character's Start of Darkness.
  • Saiyuki has Gojyo's backstory. A product of his father's affair, he was raised by his father's wife, who abused and tormented him constantly since he was a reminder of her husband's infidelity. To protect him, his half-brother Jien took to calming her down the only way he could - by allowing her to seduce him, and it's shown that Gojyo could hear them in the next room over and was well aware of exactly what was happening. Eventually, the situation spiraled out of control, and she was about to kill Gojyo...so to save him, Jien cut her down with an axe right in front of his little brother's eyes.
    • Sanzo watched his mentor and father figure killed right in front of his eyes at about thirteen, by the demons who stole his sacred scripture. He went after them, and while following their trail was assaulted by bandits, who he was forced to kill in self-defense. The first one he ever killed had just declared his intention to rape the pretty young boy they'd found, and was asking the other bandits to hold him down when Sanzo shot him in the head. Over the course of travels in the next few years, he racked up a nightmarish kill count.

    Comic Books 
  • X-23:
    • Laura Kinney was subjected outright horrific violence and abuse almost from birth by the Facility, including deliberate exposure to violent and disturbing images and deprivation of emotional support in an effort to break her of her humanity. And when her creators decided she still had too much empathy (probably because her mother attempted to violate the "no emotional support" order whenever possible) they forced her to kill a puppy. A puppy that she played with instead, so they told her it would be tortured to death right in front of her as punishment for failure. And this is even before they started sending her out as a hired killer, her "test run" being the slaughter of a presidential candidate, his family, and an entire roomful of press, security, and other functionaries. Laura then became a child prostitute in New York City.
    • Her cousin Megan fell victim to this trope when Kimura and the Facility's agents came looking for her, and got a front-row seat as Laura tore her mother's boyfriend (actually a Facility plant) to shreds and slaughtered a Facility hit team sent to recover her (while being tortured herself by Kimura to punish Laura for escaping).

    Film 
  • In the most recent Zatoichi film, the twins had their entire family and servants murdered by yakuza, and were then forced to sell themselves for money to survive.
  • The film The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc has young Joan witness her sister murdered then raped (yes, in that order). This leads to her either going crazy or being touched by God.
  • In the first Silent Night, Deadly Night, Billy has a... traumatic childhood. First, he sees a deranged psychopath in a Santa Claus costume murder his parents, leaving him alone with his infant brother at the age of seven. Understandably, this causes him to have a fear of Santa Claus. At the age of ten he saw two orphanage workers having sex; the extremely strict Mother Superior told him all sex was evil. Naturally, he believed her. Then one fateful night at the age of 18 he witnesses one of his coworkers (who happens to be dressed as Santa) raping one of the female workers. It all proves too much, causing him to finally snap and go on a killing spree killing everyone he believed to be naughty.
  • In The Seven Percent Solution, a young Sherlock Holmes witnessed his mother in bed with his math tutor, and then his father killing her for adultery, leading to his life long distrust of women, his passion for justice and his delusion that the relatively harmless Professor Moriarty, his tutor, was the Napoleon of Crime.
  • In Danny the Dog, a.k.a. Unleashed, a very young Danny had witnessed the murder of his mother by Bart, who definitely groped her and may have done worse. Unusual in that he attacks the assailant, rather than staying hidden or going into shock.
  • Played for laughs with Eric in Mystery Team, who can been seen hanging out in strip clubs and claims to have been shot three times.
  • In The Crucible, a Korean film revolving around the true story of an abuse scandal at a school for hearing-impaired children, staff are depicted beating, grooming and raping students as young as eight. Also the novel on which it was based.

    Literature 
  • Felix and Mildmay of Doctrine of Labyrinths were sold by their mother at the ages of three or four to 'Keepers.' Felix's beat him severely leaving him with massive scarring on his back and nearly drowned him several times, started on him sexually at eight, and after the Keeper's death in a massive fire (that killed the few friends the boy had) he ended up in a brothel that catered to BDSM. And that's all before he's bought by the Big Bad Mildmay's keeper tended toward more psychological torture than physical, but she started sleeping with him herself when he was almost fourteen and began training him to kill people at the same time. By the time they meet as adults they're two of the most screwed up people in their canon and that's saying something.
  • Nick Perumov's Keeper of the Swords cycle. It is revealed that Dark Magical Girl Sylvia had to fight in the wars (as a witch) from early on, so that by ten(!), she was "already considered a battle-hardened veteran". She also suggests that she witnessed other witch, Seges, being a "pervert", though it's not clear whether she herself was abused. In the story itself, she has a Near Death Experience AT LEAST once a book. She gets speared, buried under rubble of a tower, her head smashed with a candelabre, hit by magical lightning... Way to have a childhood.
  • The Alienist by Caleb Carr. Oh boy.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Legacy of the Force takes it up to Over Nine Thousand with Ben Skywalker. Picture a thirteen-year-old boy joining his cousin's version of the Hitler Youth, being trained as a Sith, regularly tortured, taken to a Sith planet (and choosing not to eat the girl), and then he turns 14, his mother dies, his memory's wiped, he assassinates a head of state, he's tortured, offered sex in exchange for information, and when neither of those work, he's forced to watch a friend die.
  • The In Death series: Oh, lord! Eve Dallas was beaten and raped by her father when she was 3 years old. He intended to turn her into a prostitute and sell her to child molesters. Her mother had mistreated her and then left her with her father, and she had to have known what the man intended to do to his own daughter. The abuse continued until she was eight years old, when she managed to stab her father to death while he was trying to rape her again. She also had to face more problems after that. Roarke was beaten up by his father and his non-biological mother left him because she cared nothing for him. Nixie Swisher from Survivor in Death witnessed murder when her entire family was slaughtered in one night. It shouldn't hurt to be a kid!

    Live Action TV 
  • The crew on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit have to deal with cases of one or the other Once an Episode.
  • Michael of The Wire was molested by his stepfather at a young age, and was also exposed to the gang violence and drug culture of West Baltimore. He becomes a hardened hitman, drug dealer, and stick-up artist by the time he's fifteen.

    Real Life 

    Video Games 
  • Tsukihime:
    • The opening is a dream Shiki has remembering the death of his entire clan, and his mother dying protecting him.
    • Kohaku and Hisui are twins with the power to boost the powers of other people... if they have sex with them. In order to hold at bay the increasing insanity he was succumbing to, the head of the Tohno household kidnaps the twins (probably murdering their families to do it, given what he does to Shiki's family), and forces sex upon Kohaku, while sparing Hisui (because he felt Kohaku would be easier to control), starting around when she was four years old. By the time of the main series' events, she is an utterly broken shell of a person and a Stepford Smiler who lives for revenge not out of hatred, but because she can't think of any other reason to live.
  • In Ryu Ga Gotoku, former Yakuza Kiryu Kazuma takes nine year old Haruka to odd places when he isn't kicking major ass, such as gambling dens ("It's take your daughter to work day") and soaphouses ("It's a... social studies field trip").
  • As becomes aptly clear during the game, Jennifer in Rule of Rose has survived two distinct massacres in her childhood, and she's implied to have witnessed the sexual abuse of some of her fellow orphans as well. The game revolves around dealing with her traumas and helping her to face the future.
  • Drakengard involves a mission in which you must you kill Child Conscripts with which the main character shows practically no remorse over slaughtering. As well as this, the main antagonist is a six year old Enfant Terrible Add to the fact that one of the party members is a pedophile while the other is a child-murdering cannibal. The final party member? A six year old boy. Did we mention that Drakengard is not one of the most kid-friendly games on the planet?

    Web Comics 
  • Homestuck:
    • Vriska Serket was raised by a giant spider which demanded she lure other children in to feed it, and her role model as a kid was the Villain Protagonist of a book of mind-control pirate erotica.
    • Dave had some of this too, as his brother made sex-toy puppets for a living, left hundreds of them lying around all over their apartment, set up traps which dropped heaps of puppets on Dave, and may have misled him into being involved offscreen in the production of at least one "puppet snuff film" involving a blender. Violence-wise, Bro also put Dave through Training from Hell with daily swordfights on the roof, and inexplicably kept the swords in question in the fridge, requiring Dave to hide food in his closet. The fanfic Brainbent takes this to it's logical conclusion and has CPS intervene and remove Dave from Bro's custody, and many other fics have the same premise.

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alternative title(s): Kid Seeing What Kids Shouldnt See
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