"...Hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husband, cause they're rapin' everybody out here."On TV, babies seem to be able to miraculously survive any threat, even when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. In violent video games, children show up so rarely the player suspects that they don't even exist. (If they are all missing or dead, you have a Childless Dystopia.) This is because the Media Watchdogs won't allow it. Watching children killed is bad enough, but allowing the player to do it themselves? No chance. As a result, children will often be conspicuously absent in video games. Maybe it's a school day. If they make an appearance, it's likely the game will prohibit you from causing them harm. Occasionally, a daring game will go out of its way and avert this trope, in which case you can expect an M-rating, media controversy and possibly poor sales on top of it all. Even Hardcore Gamers Have Standards. This is especially common in freeworld/sandbox games in which you have the option to do just about anything (read: kill random people on the street). Note that if the child character is the protagonist, all bets are off: brutal acts carried out upon children are perfectly fine as long as the child is the player's character. Compare There Are No Adults, in which the adults are missing.
— Antoine Dodson, July 28, 2010, Channel 48 News
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- There are no children in the Overlord series, except a few in Overlord: Dark Legend — that are conveniently invincible, and you're supposed to be helping anyway. When you're playing the Witch Boy before his Overlord days in Overlord II the children there are invincible, but in retribution for their bullying and tormenting you, you get to chase them down, harass and torment them and finally stranding them naked in a secret clubhouse while your minions use their clothes as a disguise.
- In The Getaway Alex Hammond appears to be the only child whole of Greater London.
- A level in God of War features Athens burnt to the ground, with random civilians running around all over the place, whom you can kill if you so desire. No children are present. There is one child that appears in the game, the daughter of The Protagonist, Kratos. She is already dead before the game begins, because she was killed along with her mother by Kratos's own hand, and only appears in flashbacks. This is a vitally important part of Kratos's backstory as he is constantly haunted by the knowledge that he was personally responsible for the deaths of his wife and daughter.
- The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction: it's possible for Hulk to kill random civilians but not children.
- Sword Of The Samurai 2 is Grand Theft Auto in Late Edo Japan... you can draw your katana on a busy market-street, and start cutting down innocent civilians left and right. Unlike GTA, however, there are children. They're just Made of Iron — your strongest attack will do little more than slow them down as they run towards the nearest exit. Even on "Extreme mode", where everyone in the game, including yourself and the final boss, dies from a single hit, the kids remain immortal.
- In the console version of Spider-Man 2, countless adults get injured and mugged and it's up to you to save them but the only scenario in which you have to help a child is when they let go of a helium balloon and you have to go and save it, in increasingly improbable places and times (like 2 AM in the morning in the middle of Queens).
Stupid Kid: I LOST MY BALLOO-HOO-HOON!
- Ultimate Spiderman: Ultimate Venom is allowed to eat these balloon-carrying children. Note that the games were made by the same development studio.
- In No More Heroes, the only child is shown after the credits after all the bloodshed is over. In Desperate Struggle, the only child is immortal, since he made a pact with Satan. Also, he's a killer himself, and rarely looks like a kid.
First Person Shooter
- Justified in Half-Life 2. The Combine have suppressed human reproduction for many years (it varies between 10 and 20 years, depending on where you look), so City 17 is populated only by adults. The children all grew up. Lampshaded in the first chapter when Gordon comes across an empty playground—cue ghostly laughter of children. Also, in Episode One, Resistance members will occasionally say "I'm glad there aren't any children around to see this." Doctor Kleiner also states in Episode One, after Gordon and Alyx take out the Citadel, that the Combine's Suppression Field has been deactivated and allows humans to produce children again and awkwardly advises the Resistance and all surviving citizens to "get busy".
- Despite several towns decimated by a zombie pandemic, there are no child zombies in Left 4 Dead. Taken to extremes in the "Dark Carnival" campaign in Left 4 Dead 2, which takes place in a Amusement Park of Doom without any children. Supposedly this is because the green flu everyone is infected with simply kills children, but this begs the question of why there aren't any corpses.
- Played with in The Darkness. At one point in the game an orphanage is blown up as an act of revenge against the protagonist. Everything is relatively cleaned up by the time you enter it, but there's still the matter of the police-drawn chalk outlines of children's bodies strewn all over the floor.
- In one level of SWAT 4 you are pitted against a cult and told to expect children inside. Naturally, it would be very problematic to have you deal with children as hostages, so the game seems to be in a irreconcilable position. The solution? As you proceed through the level you see cribs, childlike decorations, and stuffed animals - but no children. Finally, in the basement you find numerous tiny graves with farewell messages scrawled on the wall, the implication being that the cult members murdered their own children.
- The earlier SWAT 3 avoided this trope - if you took a mission involving a home invasion, and the call up tells you the family had children, you will very well find and rescue those children. The corollary of having to deal with child hostages is avoided by having them all curled up on a couch or at the side of their bed when you find them, so there's no chance of the player accidentally shooting them and, them being children, no need to put them in handcuffs before calling in to evacuate them.
- Unlike the previous games, Deus Ex: Human Revolution contains no children in-game. However, you can see silhouettes of children in some of the capsule rooms in Alice Garden Ponds. You can't interact with them in any way, though.
- Cantr II: Everyone spawns (the term generally used for when a new character is created) at the age of twenty. This doesn't stop some people acting like 2 year olds except when it comes to adult relations. Nothing says in-character like a child who can't operate a hammer, but bounces the bedsprings like a champ.
- Players of City of Heroes have a running joke in that the entire city lacks any children save for one, who stands in the middle of a zone infested with hostile alien monstrosities with all the invincibility of a non-targetable NPC. There are also no educational facilities below university level, although school books are occasionally mentioned as a MacGuffin to save.
- Children NPCs are invincible in World of Warcraft, even when you try to kill kids from opposing faction. There is even a holiday event in the game called Children's Week, where players can act as a "big brother/sister" to a child from an orphanage by allowing the child to accompany them while they go about their normal activities. Predictably, enemies that the player might battle while the child is present will never attack the child. Even if the player is hit by an area-of-effect attack, the child will not be affected.
Real Time Strategy
- Children do not appear in Age of Empires until the third game, and even then they only do as decoration cinematics in the "Home City" menu boards or in Native villages. The player can't attack these villages, only compete with other players to built trade outposts in them and get extra technologies and units from them, so the children can't be wounded either.
- Not only included in, but a large part of the gameplay, killing children in Crusader Kings is usually a means to and end to grab new titles, and sometimes it's a great way to punish those that you don't like. You can go so far as to kill your own children if they don't live up to your standards (you play as the heir when your current ruler dies), it's almost game ending for your kid to be barren or to split inheritance because the king couldn't keep it in his pants.
- All of The Elder Scrolls games are suspiciously lacking children:
Grogon: She asked me if I was the jester! So I said to her."No, I am a messenger of death." You should have seen the look on her face! Ha ha ha ha! Anyway, she won't be seeing age six!
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion lacks anyone under the age of 15. However, like The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, modders managed to make them appear, although they are unkillable in both. In Oblivion, there is even a non-playable item called Child Overall on a small corpse. What the hell happened to the children in Cyrodiil?
- That's not to say there isn't children at all. Dark Brotherhood member Gogron gro-Bolmog, an orc with a huge War Axe, tells a story during the quest "A Watery Grave". It was about him assassinating a little nord at her own birthday party.
- The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall has two types of NPCs: those who were animated and could be attacked, and those who were fixed two-dimensional sprites which could not be used for anything other than conversation. This kind were found only in in-door environments and did include at least one child.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim includes children, but they cannot be hurt or killed. No matter how much they deserve it. At least one modder took advantage of this and twinked his character to summon an army of knife-wielding little girls. There are also mods that remove the childrens invulnerability, and oddly enough utilize existing dialogue recordings hidden in the files of the childrens death screams. Along with rewards when you off rivals of the child.
- Somewhat played straight with non-human races, however, as you see only human children in the game, yet oddly enough no Elven or Beast-Race children, though this is arguably justified, given the Mer races' low birthrate and long lifespan and the Beast-Races' just plain weirdness. That said, there's nothing stopping the player from downloading mods to be able to adopt non-human children such as the absolutely adorable Khajiit children.
- All that aside, come a later DLC and the ability to adopt children, you can easily take advantage of your immortal kiddies as companions.
- Dark Brotherhood Sister Babette is a vampire who turned at a around age ten and is now the oldest member of the group in Skyrim. When the Sanctuary is sacked by the Penitus Oculatus, she's one of the few who survived.
- Fable was originally going to include children that could be killed (a widely-circulated pre-release picture showed the protagonist impaling a child on his blade), but this was scrapped at the last minute. Instead, children only appear in places in the game where you're not supposed to be able to kill anyone, at least not without glitches.
- There are children all over the place in Fable II. You still can't kill them, but they quite distinctly notice you if you try. Specifically, you get some evil points, everyone gets very upset, and the guards will chase you down... to make you pay a fine.
- Neverwinter Nights:
- In Neverwinter Nights, Players can destroy every guard and adult in the place, but there is a little child in one of the districts who cannot be killed. If you kill his parents, he even seeks vengeance. Protected by sheer invincibility, he will follow you anywhere in the game, pounding on you with his tiny fists. He will follow you into every room of the game.
- Neverwinter Nights 2 has a fair number of children, but peaceful NPCs are now invulnerable and cannot even be targeted.
- Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura has no real children, with the exception of one quest with an underaged elf who is still over a century old.
- Dubloon. The closest to the child you will get in this game is Riley.
- Despite visiting many colonies and other places where families clearly live, no children are ever seen in the first two Mass Effect games. Partially excused by Shepard spending most of his time on military bases or small colonies and research facilities where families wouldn't be living anyway, but it is still a little odd to never see any on the Citadel or Illium... or Horizon, for that matter, especially because children are specifically mentioned in an e-mail received after the Horizon mission.
- In Mass Effect 3, it is mentioned in the Ex-Cerberus Scientists mission that the defectors brought families and children with them into hiding—families and children who, naturally, are never seen; we just take Brynn's word for it. Also, in the Citadel's refugee camps, we see a teenage girl (who is obviously just a youngish-looking female NPC) asking a guard if her parents have arrived yet. When she worries over her parents being missing or possibly dead and having no one to look after her, the effect is somewhat lessened by the character model used.
- The Faelands of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning are childless.
- Actually becomes a plot point in Digital Devil Saga.
- Undertale is a game that makes a point of humanizing (for lack of a better word) all of the monsters that try to fight you, making it clear that killing any of them, even in self defense, is murder. But you can kill any or all of them, including the teenage runaways who live in Snowdin Forest, if that counts as "children". All of the younger monster kids are NPCs you can talk to but not fight... unless you decided to go full Omnicidal Maniac and not only kill everything in your path but actively grind for more random encounters until the game stops spawning them in. The game will respond realistically to this, sending nearly all of the NPCs into hiding, save for two shopkeepers and the dinosaur kid who follows you through most of Waterfall... who becomes a scripted encounter, standing up to you despite having no chance. If you feel guilty and spare them, the game will be locked into a "neutral" route no matter what you do next. If you attack, Undyne will show up out of nowhere to take the hit, and send the kid home.
Stealth Based Game
- One of the levels in Hitman: Blood Money has our hero carry out a hit on a mobster in witness relocation during a child's birthday party. The clown is there, the caterer is there, but neither the kid nor his teenaged sister is anywhere to be found.
- Hitman: Absolution lampshades this. At the beginning of a level that involves a thug assault on an orphanage, there is a cutscene in which 47 overhears two nuns discussing how all the children are away on a field trip.
- Assassin's Creed I is a straight example, but its sequel Assassin's Creed II and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood play with the trope: There are no children to be found in the world unless the plot calls for it, but it does several times, and one of them even meets an untimely demise near the beginning of II.
- Assassin's Creed III has children as beggars, but they cannot be harmed.
- In Dishonored, the only child to be seen anywhere is Emily, and she's the only person in the game whom the player cannot kill (if you kill any of your allies while they are still critical to advancing the story, you get a Non Standard Game Over) - at least until the High Chaos ending.
- In Resident Evil 4, an entire town is infected by a parasite, which turns them into bloodthirsty zombie-like beings. No children are ever seen, of course. A montage during the credits gives a glimpse of how the parasites were introduced to the villagers, and children are seen. Thus, one way or another, a lot of kids died before the game began. There's a strong implication from that sequence that the children were murdered by the Plaga-infected parents.
- Resident Evil 2 both plays this straight and averts this; the T-Virus-stricken town of Raccoon City has zombies galore, but there are no zombified children at all. However, there's a small portion of the game where you play as a young girl named Sherry (the daughter of the main antagonist of the game), and it's possible for her to get killed by zombies and dogs. Since the Game Over animation for 2 includes a brutal and gory scene of whatever killed you tearing you apart, it can be nerve-racking to see a twelve-year old girl getting eaten by zombies, moreso than if Leon (a rookie police officer) or Claire (a college-aged student) were to face the same fate.
- Thankfully, the game doesn't allow Sherry to be killed in a gruesome manner. She only falls down unconscious, and you can only do it through zombie puke or dog bites. In fact, having Sherry die is so unlikely, thanks to her extremely high health, that it'll only happen if you let it happen.
- The American release of Silent Hill featured enemies that resembled gray skinned children with knives. These were absent from both Japanese and European releases, replaced by a less obviously human-shaped creature. The demo of the American version, meanwhile, had these gray child-things giggle like infants on spotting you; this was replaced in the finished game, of course.
- Alien: Isolation has several audio logs that mention the kids aboard the station, but not a single one is seen or even heard from.
Third Person Shooter
- For reasons that make sense both in and out of game, there are no children anywhere in the Crusader series.
Turn Based Strategy
- For a game all about training up generations of heroes you would think Massive Chalice would avert this; but no. All children are placed in "training" until they reach 16, not even appearing on the map when one of your keeps (where they're being trained) is attacked.
- Placed straight through most of the Shining Series but averted in Shining Force III; where in one level you have to save a group of refuges, three of which are children. Because of the way the game prioritizes attacking units with low health, and the children have the lowest health of any character in the game, enemies will go out of their way to kill kids.
- In Fire Emblem Fates, the main character takes one of two sides in a war (or chooses neither). If one side is chosen, the characters who would be playable on the other side become enemies. The only characters on the opposing side who are neither met nor fought are the children of the opposing characters (because the main character is the only one who has access to the pocket dimensions that allow the children to grow up), and Nyx. Nyx never even appears if the player sides against her country, presumably because she looks like a child.
Wide Open Sandbox
- The 3D Grand Theft Auto games do this a lot. Only one character under the age of fifteen or so has ever appeared in the series, in any capacity other than the radio; in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, Vic's love interest Louise has a baby daughter named Mary-Beth, whom you have to help protect.
John Hickory: Of course not! No one's been born in Florida since 1877, but! I've been here five years which is a very long time.
- However on the radio several children have been heard and even killed, for instance a Jerk Ass gun safety mascot tricked a little girl into shooting herself in the head.
- Lampshaded on Vice City Public Radio show "Pressing Issues" when the host asked secessionist John F. Hickory if he'd been born in Florida.
- GTA 3 was originally going to include kids, schools and yellow school-buses◊ however they were scrapped for an unknown reason; although many people speculate it was because of school shootings that happened around the time the game was to be released, that caused them to take kids out. In fact, there was a quite well known mission that was taken out, in which the objective was to blow up a bus full of elementary school kids, and another mission was to have the player go into a school and kill all the people inside. Both were taken out, for obvious reasons.
- GTA Advance involved a mission in which you had to kidnap a school kid. This trope is still played however, when the protagonist gets pissed at his employer for hurting the girl.
- The HD universe of Grand Theft Auto has continued the tradition of there being no children anywhere. The only reference to children in Grand Theft Auto IV was with regards to a dubious beauty pageant called Little Lacey Surprise, and Grand Theft Auto V doesn't even have incidental references. However, it is possible to find children's playgrounds throughout both game maps ... populated by adults.
- Protagonist Michael is the first actual father featured in the games, however his "kids" are both in their early 20s.
- In the Saints Row games, no children show up at all. Ever. This is lampshaded in 2 where a ban on children and animals in public is talked about in the Ultor Cathedral, and one of three "facts about Stilwater" on the official site claimed that "city code prevents the public display of children and animals".
- The only humans in the Destroy All Humans! series are all middle-aged male and female suburbanites, hippies, and farmers, except for the occasional old crackpot scientist or mid-50's communist hating general. More likely, the same character will respawn in the same spot a few minutes later, implying that they reproduce Asexually, or some such.
- In the sequel, an NPC even lampshades this phenomenon, asking "Where are all the children?"
- [PROTOTYPE] plays with this trope. You can eat or slash through the whole of Manhattan without encountering a single child but the Web of Intrigue cutscenes not only feature children, they feature children who are dead, mutated or experimented on. One of the "memories" has the creepy, distorted cry of a baby. Have fun sleeping.
- In Red Dead Redemption, we see two children in the entire game; a kid selling newspapers in the opening cutscene, and John's son. In Mexico, it's mentioned that kids have been taking up arms in the revolution, but we never see any, for obvious reasons.
- Children die in Dead Rising. Either offscreen or before you ever show up. Nobody under eighteen is encountered in person in-game, not alive, dead or undead. The ages of young-looking NPCs are listed as 18-25.
- Dead Rising 2 features one child, the Player Character's daughter Katey. She can be killed through the player not fulfilling certain tasks, but not directly and her death is never shown on screen. Note also there's one survivor who has an age of less than 18. Snowflake the tiger, who is three years old. Even this plays the trope straight as that is considered the age of maturity/adulthood for the average tigers.
- The Postal series, especially Postal 2, lacks anyone under adult age, as Vince Desi and the rest of the RWS staff felt it would be crossing a line. Considering that the player can kill, maim, burn and/or urinate on anyone or anything, from civilians, store clerks, priests, police officers, Gary Coleman, Taliban members, Osama Bin Laden and even digital expies of the game company staff, as well as dogs, cattle and cats (the latter of which can be used as makeshift shotgun or rifle silencers, even), the ability to kill children is considered one hell of a big line to cross. Some NPCs will mention that they have children if they're huddled down, begging not to be killed in the many random acts of violence that seem to infest Paradise. On the other hand, this trope is averted in the Uwe Boll movie adaptation, which features dozens of kids getting hit during a particular firefight, in an attempt to cross the line as far as possible.
- Dragon's Dogma has children down to about the age of twelve, then stops; it's as if a decade ago, everyone decided to stop reproducing. This is due to characters construction using the same system that the player is allowed in Character Customization, and the youngest Arisen possible is that age. This also means that every young girl is post-pubescent, if ever so slightly, as there is no body for a completely breastless female; there is only a range from A to DD.
- Rimworld is currently a straight example, although colonists as young as fourteen can join your settlement, but a Game Mod to avert the trope was developed based off the existing code that lets animals reproduce. It remains to be seen whether a future release makes this feature official, and given that the game has avenues of Video Game Cruelty Potential that startle even a seasoned Dwarf Fortress player, some people would really rather this didn't come to pass.
Non-video game examples:
- Lampshaded in Five Hundred Years After, in which Lemony Narrator Paarfi points out that he's specifically avoided all mention of Dragaera City's children, babies, or pets in his account of the events leading up to Adron's Disaster, specifically so readers won't have to dwell on such defenseless innocents being wiped out.
- In Moon Over Soho, Peter and Nightingale investigate a suburban home whose residents have become vampires. Although photos of the family's children are displayed inside and their unexplained absence from school is one of the things that roused the Folly's suspicions, the actual bodies of the kids - whether undead or dead - aren't found before Nightingale makes the call to contain the infection by burning the place to the ground.
- An episode of The Outer Limits (1963) called "A Feasibility Study" ended with an entire town committing suicide to save the rest of humanity from being enslaved by aliens. The makers were under strict instructions not to feature any children in the episode.
- In the direct-to-DVD Futurama movie "The Beast With A Billion Backs", the titular Beast has neck-sex with every single being in the universe. In the commentary track, the creators note that they very deliberately did not have any children appear in the episode.
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- In Luigi's Mansion, of all games, some of the enemies are small children. Of course, they're already dead.
- The first boss, a baby, was born as a ghost.
- The Star Wars Episode 1 game allowed you to kill several children, including the Gungan children, Anakin's friends and even Anakin himself, which was a taboo for a Jedi.
- There are children all over the place in the various episodes of American McGee's Grimm, and not even they are safe from hilariously brutal injury and death.
- American McGee's Alice contains Insane Children. While you don't kill them directly (mostly, they get in the way), they are made into clockwork automatons that you do have to fight. However, one of them helps you in a later level.
- During the Venom tutorial of the Ultimate Spider-Man game, your first order of business is to devour a darling little girl holding a balloon. She is spit back out, but doesn't seem to be moving after that. This is a parody of the above Spider-Man 2 missions.
- Completely averted in the Newgrounds flash game Chainsaw the Children.
- In LEGO Indiana Jones, you can gleefully kill your partner Short Round whenever you like. He will simply respawn a few seconds later. In his review, Yahtzee notes that doing so a few dozen times helps deal with any lingering resentment you may have for the character.
- Excluded in the game Harvester, where just about anyone can be killed, and whether this has game-ending disastrous consequences is generally random. You need to kill several children to complete the game, including a mob of small children you find feasting on their mother. Of course, this is a twisted horror game where interactivity is part of the horror.
- Played with in Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes, the first act revolves around Lilli and the other children at the convert. By the end of the first act, most, if not all of the other children have been gruesomely killed, often because of something Lilli did. However, pretty much all of the deaths occur off-screen, with lilli coming back to find little gnomes spreading pink paint over what looks like to be the bodies and blood. It's not until very late in the game that it dawns on Lilli exactly what's been happening.
- Samurai Shodown has several children amid its roster. It also has moves that lets you slaughter the opponent messily. Aside from IV, where the programming to hit two characters with the finishing moves was left out due to time constraints, everyone can be killed in brutal fashion, age notwithstanding.
First Person Shooter
- In Prey (2006), there are children captured by the aliens. You never get to kill them, but you get to see two die messily, and one enemy type is a ghostly, possessed little girl. She was originally going to be a fleshy possessed girl, and have a male counterpart that was a child husk stretched over an insectoid wraith, but these were dropped from the final game, likely for much the same reasons that motivate the trope in general.
- In Deus Ex: Invisible War, you can easily go on a shooting spree in a school populated by twelve year old girls, though the place is protected by security turrets and guards.
- The children in the original were killable, too but that's the game's setting, not its attitude - Deus Ex was and to some extent still is notable in encouraging the player not to plow through the game destroying everything in their path.
- In BioShock, creepy little girls who collect genetic material from corpses and their massive armoured guardians are prominently featured. These "Little Sisters" are immune to damage as long as their "Big Daddies" live; if the player tries to shoot them or harm them in any other way, the ADAM in their bodies causes all damage to literally bounce off them. However, if the Big Daddy is dispatched, the little girl is completely helpless against The Protagonist. At this point you can do one of two things with them: either rip out the symbiote that controls the Sister and carries their supplies of ADAM, killing the Sister in the process, or use a special plasmid to "cure" the Sister, meaning she becomes a normal girl again, while the protagonist will not get as much ADAM he would have gotten if he had "harvested" her. Note both the harvesting and the curing are conveniently obscured ("harvest" by a black-green mist, "rescue" by a flash of white light). According to a pre-release review, this happened in plain sight in an earlier version of the game shown to journalists.
Message: "You can only HARVEST or RESCUE Little Sisters."
- After saving a little sister, they become a plain young girl, thank you, then run to the nearest vent to escape. You can shoot them after saving them, but your bullets will still bounce off her and a stern message will appear:
- It's possible to kill children in another way - the final level of the first game is an Escort Mission where you have to guide a Little Sister who can open doors that you can't. If she takes enough damage, she will die and Tenenbaum will berate you - then tell you to go get another sister.
- There is also a single scene in which you find that a family of five committed suicide in their apartment by drinking poison. Oddly, the parents show sign of decay, but not the three identical daughters.
- You can also find a family sitting down to dinner, which had apparently been turned into a semi-living statue by deranged artist Sander Cohen (and you actually have to help Cohen in order to continue on in the game). Of note is that, if you strike the parents, they make a squishy sound indicating they were/are alive. Hitting the girl produces a sound like hitting rock.
- In Resistance 2, you don't face any human children... but some of the conversion cocoons and Chimera resulting from them are distinctly child-sized. You can break open the cocoons, killing the occupant, and the "child" Chimera will try to kill you just like any others — What Measure Is a Non-Human? probably applies.
- Also averted in Doom 3, as cherubs look like a kind of mutated human infants, although they may be just demons deliberately made to look like infants just for the effect it would have on human enemies.
Hack And Slash
- This trope is horribly, horribly inverted in the first game. First off, there is a stage in Leonard's side-story in which you are forced to fight the child-soldiers of the Empire, who are brainwashed as the rest of the Empire's soldiers are. As you are slaughtering them all, Leonard cries out, "But Caim, they're just children!" Your dragon then loudly declares "Soldiers are soldiers!" and encourages you to carry on. Then there's the matter of the Grotesqueries, which is plain and simple terror. Not to mention as well that Arioch will actively seek out and murder small children.
- The second game had a child (or childlike) character grow to giant size in a boss battle. No prizes for guessing what you have to do.
- In Diablo, there is a peg-legged young boy in Tristram named Wirt with whom you can "gamble" to buy items. In Diablo II, you return to Tristram, which has been overrun by monsters, and you can find Wirt's remains (as well as his peg leg, which you can use as a weapon, and a stash of gold he likely conned off the player character in the last game). After defeating Diablo (and either starting a new game or moving on to the Lord of Destruction expansion) go back to the rogue camp from act 1 and combine it with a Tome of Town Portal and enter the infamous Cow Level!
- Wirt is the exception to the rule, as no other children are seen in Tristram. However, this is justified, because the manual and NPC dialog indicate that all the other children have already been killed by the demons.
- As a Mythology Gag in Warcraft III, you can acquire an artifact called "Wirt's Other Leg" that boosts your hero's attack power. In World of Warcraft, you can recover Wirt's Third Leg, a fairly rare and fairly powerful one-handed mace. As a Shout-Out, you can retrieve "Wart's Peg Leg" in Hellgate: London, though Wart is a much less obnoxious character and he doesn't have to die for you to get it.
- Ninety-Nine Nights. Self-righteous psycho bitch Inphyy murders goblin children with no qualms both under the player's control and in a cutscene.
- In Dante's Inferno, the game, there are Unbaptised Babies to kill freely... yikes.
- Although there are children present in a few major cities in World of Warcraft, there is an event where you can pick up an orphan from your faction's capital and take them around questing (read: 'killing stuff') with you. They seem to enjoy it.
- Overlaps with What Measure Is A Nonhuman in Northrend with a quest to kidnap Wolvar pups for the Tuskarr. The Tuskarr insist that they want to raise the Wolvar to be more peaceful than the vicious hunters they normally are, but the lack of any Wolvar in their village can lead to some nasty Fridge Horror implications. Also, to capture the pups they have to be targettable, which also makes them attackable; players that don't watch what they target, or use AoE abilities on the adults, can kill the pups as well.
- In Phantasy Star Universe, there are child NPCs and prefab PCs, and the character creator for PCs automatically scales down apparent age along with height, allowing you to make your own Kid Hero. There's even — according to the storyline — a subrace of the Beast race that never ages beyond apparent childhood, regardless of their actual age.
- In RuneScape there are some human children you can find but can't attack, but go to the Grand Tree can you can slay little gnome children galore.
- Though you never see a child die in Guild Wars, the canon makes it very clear that children can and do die; as one character puts it: "There were no children left after the Searing. They either grew up fast, or they didn't grow up at all."
- Then there's Gwen. At the age of ten, she witnesses searing fire rain from the sky, is orphaned, gets kidnapped by the race who sent the Searing, and spends the next seven years toiling in a slave camp. She escapes only when they attempted to feed her to a giant scorpion. Meanwhile, her mother's ghost is desperately searching the Underworld for her, having no knowledge of her fate.
- On a more positive note children are commonplace in areas outside Gwen's devastated homeland, and even there, too, during Wintersday, when you can give gifts to the children.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic uses smaller versions of the adult models for children (which can be somewhat... disconcerting with the girls). In keeping with the spirit of the Dark side, Republic players can threaten to kill a sick child to get a refugee demanding help to back down.
- Heart of Darkness got away with death sequences that showed the kid player character crushed, devoured, incinerated and drowned in a variety of non-gory, yet non-discreet ways. Heart is one of the few realistic 2D platformers, along with Another World and the first Prince of Persia, so falling off the screen would look flagrantly out of place — and all of them are sadistic to begin with, at least in difficulty levels.
Real Time Strategy
- In Warcraft III, you can actually kill children NPCs. Without any ill-effects. As a holy paladin. Who is also the prince of the kingdom. Yeah, seriously. And this can happen well before Arthas' corruption. Try it in the first Human mission, go nuts.
- Played straight in "The Culling", the mission where you need to kill infected villagers before their souls can be claimed by Mal'ganis. There are no children in the level.
- Once Arthas is a Death Knight, another level has you running around a human village. While the children are killable, they don't show up as enemies. You, the player, need to specifically order your troops to murder the children. You Monster!.
- Dwarf Fortress. Not only do infants catch arrows and melee attacks initiated at the mother, the children will blithely follow their mothers into combat. Since soldiers tend to have the highest birth rates, unless you have a lot of traps outside your fort, you're not going to have a lot of children surviving into adulthood. And that's not even including the people who practice 'population control', and actively kill off the children that take up space in their fortress. This is just Fortress Mode. Play on Adventurer and you can easily liberate children from Goblin fortresses to be in your party (which is a good idea, as they are useful as shields since you can't hire drunks anymore). Sound bad? How about the fact that, should you decide to invade a human town, you'll find yourself catapulting children into walls as they try to kill you? Sound bad? How about invading an elven town, where you will frequently find yourself beset upon by entire waves of children, some as young as two?
- The Binding of Isaac inverts this. The eponymous player character is a small child, and nearly every enemy in the game is some form of baby or aborted fetus. Copious Body Horror is also involved. Thankfully, the artstyle is cutesy enough that it gets away with it.
Role Playing Game
- You can murder children in the first two Fallout games, though the resulting penalty to your reputation makes the rest of the game nearly unplayable. Versions outside the US remove the children by turning them invisiblenote , which makes a town full of pickpocketing urchins in Fallout 2 even more annoying than normally.
- The game rewards creativity: players sick of the Den's pickpocketers have the consequence-free option of either hitting them once to make them run away or planting live explosives in their inventories by means of Stealing (or letting them sneak the explosives from you). This will cause such entertaining visual effects as the child's body exploding into a red mist, while his head goes rocketing upward with a trail of blood.
- Fallout 3 makes use of the "present but invincible children" subclause by not allowing the children to die (by your actions directly, at least). You can shoot them, stab them, nuke them, burn them, etc. but you can't kill them or splatter their brains all over the pavement. Or maybe just use them as living shields...
- One of them happens to be extremely annoying, though, and just screams "Help, they killed everybody! Now they're coming to kill us!"
- While Fallout: New Vegas technically treats children the same as in 3, the number of children in-game was reduced tremendously — the only ones you're likely to meet are the fortunetelling kid at the 188 Trading Post, one kid acting as a barker for Mick and Ralph's weapon store, Pete and the Mini Boomers at Nellis Air Force Base (or the path up to Black Mountain, sometimes), and a few kids in Freeside chasing around rats. And the child slaves in The Fort.
- Played literally in Phantasy Star IV, the entire population of a town has been turned to stone by the first major villain of the game; the player can bring the party around to see all the statues who were once residents, but most of the buildings are locked up— except one house. Inside, there are two adults, standing in front of the stairs leading into their basement. If you walk around them and go down, you'll find their two young children hiding, frightened but otherwise in perfect condition, and they'll tell you that their mother told them to hide down here and be quiet.
- The first form of the last boss in the normal game of Parasite Eve is, in fact, a baby... which is the Ultimate Being; as such, it keeps developing, eventually becoming an adult and a bizarre gelatinous skull thing. Also, Aya's dead sister, Maya, is a key character in the game, as well as being in the true final boss fight in New Game+.
- A big exception occurred in Ultima VIII, where it was possible to round up a bunch of children near the edge of the starting town and start hacking them to bits. Doing so resulted in a very powerful guardian coming to kill you in their defense, but especially nearer the ending of the game, that guardian was perfectly beatable.
- Even bigger exception in Ultima V: there is a dungeon room full of hostile children behind bars. To proceed to the next area, one has to trigger a switch which opens the cells, letting the children out. As you are the Avatar, the paragon of virtues (and acting virtuous; the game does have a Karma Meter, and it is running in this scenario), this creates an interesting moral dilemma. Some (or maybe most) players choose to flee rather than fight.
- Mercifully, third and fourth potential options are available. if a player has enough magically powerful characters in the party, they can charm all of the children instead of killing them, a most difficult and impressive feat likely to require a lot of Save Scumming. Alternatively, a party with enough resources of a certain sort can turn everyone in it invisible, which will cause all the children, believing they have no one left to attack, to wander away into the dungeon. While technically this means the children are now lost and wandering somewhere in the dungeon, one's moral qualms may well be softened considerably if, as the Lazarus edition of Ultima V suggests, these are in fact monster children.
- Even outside the dungeons, children aren't necessarily faring well. The player will meet a child enslaved to extort information from her mother, another child subject to brutal punishment along with his father for a trivial offense, and another child in hiding and slowly starving since his father was unjustly imprisoned.
- The dungeon room is even worse in the brilliant remake Ultima V Lazarus, where you hear the children laughing as you approach, and hear them screaming in pain if you and your companions decide to kill them.
- In fact, rooms with children is a Running Gag in the later Ultima games—there's usually a dungeon room somewhere in each game that is populated with children with the generic monster AI, that will attack the player. There's been one in pretty much each game since IV.
- In Ultima IX a boy highwayman demands gold from the Avatar and taunts him on being unable to fight a child. Whether the boy is given gold or not, he immediately flings powerful fireballs while laughing. Killing him results in a hefty karma penalty. Near the game's end, the Avatar comes across a girl who has been incurably poisoned with a toxin that will slowly, excruciatingly and inevitably kill her, and she begs the Avatar to end her suffering. Whatever choice the Avatar makes, the Guardian will beam a Breaking Speech into the Avatar's head over it.
- Even bigger exception in Ultima V: there is a dungeon room full of hostile children behind bars. To proceed to the next area, one has to trigger a switch which opens the cells, letting the children out. As you are the Avatar, the paragon of virtues (and acting virtuous; the game does have a Karma Meter, and it is running in this scenario), this creates an interesting moral dilemma. Some (or maybe most) players choose to flee rather than fight.
- The World Ends with You features various child NPCs — mostly just scenery, but one of them, Rhyme, is a major character. It's established fairly early on that anyone in Shibuya during the "Reapers' Game" is at risk of being Erased And you actually get to see it happen to Rhyme partway through the game.
- Nevermind the fact that since everyone in the Game is dead, you get a brief blink-and-you'll-miss-it flashback of her and her brother about to be run down by a truck.
- Chrono Cross features a nine-year-old girl. As a Boss Battle. Go ahead and beat the crap out of her. She even shows up again in another Boss Battle, with her co-workers, a big brawler and an axe swinger, and is considered at least equal in power to them.
- In Avernum 1-3 there are children in towns (where they are unlikely to be harmed). However, the young of Always Chaotic Evil races like goblins and giants almost never never appear. The slithzeraki are an exception. In the first game, when they are universally evil, you can slaughter a tribe's young with no negative consequences. (In fact, to complete one quest it may be necessary.) In the second game, you can do the same thing in very similar circumstances, but now that many slithzeraki are friendly, it's heavily implied you shouldn't. In Avernum 4-5, where towns are more likely to be wiped out, children show up a lot less. However, Avernum 5 does give you the option to wipe out several baby giants.
- In the original version of Exile II, destroying the enemy slithzeraki children is first described as fun, but when complete, your party feels Tears of Remorse because you shouldn't be killing children even if they are enemies.
- In Dragon Age: Origins you have the option of killing a young child as a way to solve a quest. The game makes you suffer for it, though.
- As noted above, Mass Effect plays this completely straight for most of the time, but an onscreen death of a child at the beginning of Mass Effect 3 becomes a major plot point.
- In Baldur's Gate you can kill children, although it will decrease your reputation significantly (...but not any more than killing any other civilians).
- Despite the infamous trailer for the game, no children appear in Dead Island. However, the death of children is mentioned frequently in conversation and the storyline.
- While they don't appear onscreen alive, the first Makai Toshi SaGa game has you find a room filled with corpses, and a journal that identifies them as children killed in a nuclear war. Somewhat surprisingly, this made it through NOA's censorship when the game was localized as Final Fantasy Legend.
- The villagers in the God Game Black & White raise their children to adulthood in full view of the player, so they're fair game for all the Video Game Cruelty Potential an evil deity can dream up. Moreover, newborns are by far the best choice of Human Sacrifice since they're a drain on resources and provide the biggest boost in prayer power, so gods unconcerned by a swan dive to the bottom of the Karma Meter are encouraged by the game to opt for... crèche-fresh victims.
- The Sims: Sim children can die from drowning and fire but they can't die of starvation. If you try, they'll be taken away by social services before they reach death. Most sims can use cartoony violence on each other, with the "slap" and "fight" interactions, but the worst an adult sim can do to a child is "argue" and "condescend". Child sims themselves can't do any negative interaction except "argue", even when talking to another child.
- Virtual Villagers averts the trope hard. Children are just as likely to die as any other villager, usually from starvation or disease. The occasional "Island Events", which can have a good, bad or neutral outcome depending on player choices, can also affect children, including their death or disappearance (with the implication of death or possibly worse).
Stealth Based Game
- The Thief games have 'child-like things' but there are far fewer children around than there logically should be; the game involves sneaking around houses in the middle of the night when children should be at least present, if asleep. However, you encounter the ghost of a child in Thief II and Thief III, and something that might be a child transformed by mad science in Thief II, as well as a couple of robotic children (sometimes very annoying and... yes, invulnerable). All these are used for their disturbing qualities.
- Velvet Assassin shows dead children lying in the streets and hanging from gallows. This is not inaccurate for the time period.
- Dishonored contains exactly one children, and that's Emily Caldwin, daughter of the late empress. She's also the only NPC that's immune to whatever you may want to throw at her.
- The isometric strategy game, Police Quest: SWAT 2 featured children among the civilian hostages who can be inflicted harm the same way as any suspect, civilian, or officer.
- While more than a few kids die in the game Rule of Rose, the game is noticeably shy about showing it happen, keeping the deaths off camera and featuring empty clothes in the place of bodies. Even though in this game, the children are the bad guys. Although the enemy Imps resemble children with either bizarrely distorted faces or the heads of animals, and it's not at all shy about showing them dying gruesome deaths.
- Fatal Frame has the ghosts of children who will help you some of the time but other times they will attack you like the adult ghosts and have to be dispatched like adult ghosts. It probably helps that defeating a ghost once does not stop it popping up again at a later time — they'll usually keep hassling you until a suitably dramatic final battle — and your weapon is a magical camera.
- Undead baby clones show up as enemies in Dead Space. Drop-kicking them into a wall is possible, and even encouraged.
- The sequel takes this to a new level. The tentacled babies return, but new to the series are exploding infants called "Crawlers" and swarming five year olds called "The Pack", whose heads you can punch off.
- Finally Averted by the third game. Justified when the setting was a military expedition with a few civilian scientists, so understandably no children were there to be infected. The Lurkers, which were the original dead babies, are now made of dogs.
- Then Double Subverted in the Awakening DLC, where the Pack from 2 makes a reappearance. The reason they show up is because the Unitologists brought their children with them to Tau Volantis just to infect them.
- Dead Rising appears to play this straight at first glance, due to the fact that out of the 50,000+ zombies in the mall there is not one child. However, the reason that two of the human psychopaths (Adam and Cliff) are the way that they are (Read:Insane) is due to the fact that they had to watch children be killed by the zombies (even worse with Cliff as the kid killed was his granddaughter). Also, one of the survivors who can be rescued by Frank is a woman who was helpless to stop her baby from being devoured by zombies. There is also the Easter Egg on the title screen.
Turn Based Strategy
- Averted in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, where there are two chapters where civilians, including children, are on the field. While you cannot harm civilians, enemy units often attack them, and generally kill them in one hit. While you can defend them, doing so is not strictly necessary, and you can still beat the level if one of them dies, although even one civilian death will prevent you from getting the rare items that civilians give you at the end of the chapter.
- In Radiant Dawn, Nico, a little boy who tries to help Micaiah escape from pursuing soldiers, is killed by said overzealous soldiers, in broad daylight and in a market full of witnesses. Micaiah runs back to use her Healing Hands to revive him, mercifully... no such luck for the adult civilians who are then killed for trying to protect them.
- Inverted most heavily in Fire Emblem Jugdral where the villains have a custom of actively hunting children. The one instance the player encounters this it is possible to save all the children but the game makes it clear this practise has been happening for many years and is a key part of the backstory for several characters. The final boss is also approximately fifteen and possessed by Satan.
- An exmaple that applies to most of the series: When visiting villages and noteworthy homes on a map, you might occasionally meet little kids there; if Bandits proceed to torch said house/village before you can get there in time, it's safe to assume the occupants are dead.
Turn Based Tactics
- Averted in Jagged Alliance 2: children appear in most towns and, like other civilians, can get caught in the crossfire, or murdered for a huge hit in morale.
Wide Open Sandbox
- In L.A. Noire, you come across a handful of kids in the entire game, usually during cutscenes and interrogations. But none of these times are even remotely pleasant for either you or them. In the final Traffic case, you come across a 15 year-old almost-murder-victim who was drugged and raped after running away from home to become a super star. During Homicide, you get to tell a pre-teen girl that her mother has been raped and murdered by a serial killer. Then you get to interrogate her, and later end up hunting down and arresting her father in front of her. The same thing you later do to a father of two kindergarden-age girls, whom the father quickly ushers into the next room. Then, in Arson, you investigate in two houses that have been burnt down with everyone in it, including the children. The second house is particularly gruesome, as you find the charred corpses of the whole family in upright praying positions. Later, when you play as Kelso, you find a suspect in bed with a twelve-year old prostitute. The last children you see in the game are Cole's daughters, sitting in the first row at his funeral during the ending sequence.
- No-one dies in Bully, but there are elementary-school kids. After one too many yelled out 'I'm telling!', it was too much, and they just had to be beaten until they disappeared. Granted, even touching one shoots your Wanted Meter to max, but sometimes they just deserve it...
- Its even possible to deliberately humiliate the younger kids; by taunting them enough times until the context sensitive "Humiliate" option becomes available, the player can provoke one of the little kids into flinging himself at Jimmy, being held back by the head just out of punching range, before Jimmy crisply sidesteps and sticks out his leg, and puts the kid flat on his face via momentum... or, Jimmy grabs the kid by the nose and lifts him up onto his tiptoes, the kid moaning in pain the entire time.
- Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven averts this somewhat, with Frank's daughter Alice appearing ingame, where you have to rescue her and her mother at an airport. A pedestrian that bears resemblance to Alice appears in the opening video, but other than that, no child besides her ever shows up in-game.
- Even Spore averts this. In creature stage, you can kill baby animals of another species, which makes sense considering how real life carnivores often go for the young. (Note that doing this will make that species hate you forever- you'll pretty much have no choice but to extinct them.) But it's a bit more morbid in tribal stage, when attacking another village allows you to kill their babies as well. Civilization and Space stages play the trope straight, though, unless you enter a Galactic Adventure that allows it.
- Children in the Zoo Tycoon games, although never actually attacked by zoo animals, will run away in a panic if an escaped predator comes near them.
- Minecraft lets the player kill not just villagers, but villager children and baby animals as well. You can even sic zombies on villager children so that they become children zombies!
- The original Postal actually toyed with this. The final level of the original release did feature multiple children in a school backdrop... but the entire level was scripted, as the Dude opens fire on them with his various weapons, hearing their screams - but none of them actually get hit, which causes the Dude to enter a Villainous B.S.O.D., at which point he's finally captured and locked up. The Redux, however, switches this out for a new finale where the Dude apparently becomes an out-of-body witness to his own funeral; Running With Scissors noted that in the almost 20 years between the original and Redux, school shootings in reality had become far too commonplace for the original ending level to still have any of its shock value.