Skinner: If either of us falls in, we're doomed!In most fiction, innocent characters (babies, children, dogs) sit very high on the Sorting Algorithm of Mortality. They tend to make it out of dangerous situations unharmed while many adult characters in these same situations do not. No matter how bad the villain is, he will stop short of killing a child. Even natural disasters seem to avoid killing infants and dogs and since they obviously have no such choice it is always because of Contrived Coincidence. Something about a baby or puppy makes you stop, think twice, and show a last flicker of compassion. Those who don't have that last drop of humanity in them will generally be stopped from completing that act of evil some other way. Of course, this only protects against killing them off on screen; destroying a city in a fiery conflagration and killing the no doubt tens or hundreds of thousands of babies therein is A-OK, because A Million Is a Statistic and the audience won't see them. This trope extends to just about anyone conventionally considered inherently "innocent," and can therefore sometimes reach out to cover the mentally handicapped. Whether or not this extends to pregnant women is a toss-up; fetuses have more relative protection than dogs, but less than already-born infants. Except in series where Status Quo Is God, because then the Convenient Miscarriage will rear its ugly head. Note that this doesn't seem to apply to the Enfant Terrible, who dies horribly in all manner of works. Compare Only Fatal to Adults, when something by definition does not hurt children, in-universe. In video games, this is a reason to Hide Your Children.
Bart: Kids don't die!
Bart: Kids don't die!
Compare and contrast Censored Child Death, when the death still occurs, but is downplayed compared to other deaths in the story.
DO NOT list "aversions". See Death of a Child for exceptions to the trope.
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Anime & Manga
- Babies don't show up in Dragon Ball and its sequels all that often, but the Cell saga featured Bulma and Vegeta's infant son, Trunks, alongside his Future Badass self that came back to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. The one time baby Trunks is in mortal danger, Future Trunks jumps in to save him and his mom. On the other hand, Dende, who is roughly the Namek equivalent of a five-year-old at the time, is brutally murdered because Frieza doesn't want him using his Healing Hands to help the heroes—and this is after Frieza jumped the Moral Event Horizon by murdering Dende's entire village, including his brother. Later on, seven-year-old Goten and eight-year-old Trunks are killed when Majin Buu blows up the Earth and three-year-old Marron is turned into chocolate and eaten along with her parents and the other side characters. (This is the poster series for Death Is Cheap...)
- There is a filler scene in the original Dragon Ball where Snow, the girl from Jingle Village, grabs a rifle from a fallen King Castle soldier and takes aim at Piccolo Daimao as his back is turned, but gives up. Piccolo then turns right around and fires eye-lasers in her direction. When the smoke clears, we're relieved to see that he wasn't aiming for Snow at all, but another soldier directly behind her.
- It is however, averted when Vegeta and Nappa first arrive on Earth. Nappa's first action is to blow up the entire city they've landed in — which does include some children seen in the background. And the kicker? Unlike most ordinary civilian casualties, in the series they don't get brought back by the titular MacGuffin... Except in the dubbed version where they write the whole thing off as Conveniently Empty Buildings.
- Gunsmith Cats 1-ups Mad Max in one particularly memorable chase scene. A girl runs out into the middle of the road, Bean Bandit (who has a soft-spot for kids) and Rally Vincent (hotshot bounty hunter pursuing him) avoid hitting the girl by running their cars into each other and driving simultaneously on two wheels, forming a triangle over her.
- We know from when it's first found that the abandoned baby in Tokyo Godfathers will survive anything. It's implied in the movie that the baby is getting protected by God Himself, with a nice analogy to the infant Jesus. This is probably most apparent during the climax, when the baby and Hanna fall off of a building and are saved by a huge gust of wind.
- YuYu Hakusho:
- Subverted: Hiei, minutes after birth was thrown off a floating island, into a demon infested forest. Luckily, he survived. And what's worse, it was all because he was a male. The Ice Maidens are some kinda cold blooded to have zero pity for an infant, indeed.
- The very first episode shows Yusuke sacrificing himself to save a child from a car accident. It's later revealed that said child was supposed to survive the accident unharmed because the ball he was holding would absorb the impact.
- Zig-zagged in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure part 4: serial killer Yoshkaga Kira has no problems with killing Hayato, an 11 year old boy, except for the fact that doing so will blow his cover - and when pressed, Kira actually does kill Hayato. Played straight when it turns out that Kira has gained a new ability - a bomb that is able to turn back time, thus undoing Hayato's death. And then later on, during the final confrontation with Kira, Hayato gets blown up again, sacrificing himself in order to get rid of the bomb planted on Okuyasu; Hayato did this knowing that Josuke can heal him right back up, and Josuke is able to fix him while he's still blowing up, ultimately playing the trope straight.
- Plenty of children are shown as zombies in School-Live! however no one actually dies on-screen. It looks like Ruu had her head stomped on and died on-screen, however she survives her injuries. Played with as Ruu isn't real. Rii sees a teddy bear as her younger sister, who is implied to be actually dead.
- Nearly subverted in Toward the Terra. During his escape from Nazca, Keith is attacked by toddler Tony and nearly killed, but Keith stabs Tony with a large shard of glass. All the Mu telepathically feel his pain and the grief of that pain is enough to kill his mother. He does end up surviving and ultimately becomes 1 of only 2 named characters who survive the Anyone Can Die series. The rest of the Children of the Mu who artificially age themselves from toddlers to teens aren't as lucky.
- Ancient comics book example: In Marvel Comics #8 (from 1940), Namor, in an all-out attack on the city of New York, detonates a bomb in the Hudson Tunnel, flooding it and killing everyone inside, kills a random pilot by ripping the propeller off his plane, breaks a lot of animals out of the zoo, including many poisonous reptiles, and then saves a baby from a stampeding elephant before flying off to destroy the George Washington Bridge.
- Used in Civil War: Young Avengers/Runaways, when the evil mad scientist who has no problem secretly experimenting on prisoners and aliens takes a moment to order his Brainwashed and Crazy slave to open a locked door and rescue a baby for the mother.
- Double Subverted in Neil Gaiman's run on The Eternals. Zuras kills Sprite for erasing all the Eternals' memories & almost destroying the world as part of his quest to Become a Real Boy. Though it worked & he is physically an eleven-year-old human child, when Sprite weakly tries to wheedle out of his execution by bringing this up, Zuras dryly reminds him that that still doesn't change the fact that he's a million years old & hasn't been a child for a very long time.
- Seemingly averted in The Punisher MAX. Amoral, tough thug Barracuda is holding a gun to the head of Frank's infant daughter. But Frank calls his bluff: not even Barracuda would shoot a baby, right? Oops, HE JUST DID. So much for Barracuda's last shred of human decency....or so we're meant to think. In the next issue it turns out that what he shot was just a doll, and the real baby is safe after all. Still, Frank didn't know that, and he was not well-pleased.
- In the Marvel Universe Crisis Crossover World War Hulk, it is revealed that the Hulk is in fact an idiot savant, capable of calculating his rampages so that he does the maximum amount of damage but never leaves any casualties.
- A long-term story in his regular series had him hunted by government forces (even more then before) because he was seen on film squashing a kid. The veracity of the film is in doubt.
- Kevin Smith's run on Daredevil was advertised with the image of DD carrying a baby as he engaged in his usual rooftop-jumping. The baby, whom he believed was either the second coming of Christ or the Anti Christ, did come along on some patrols for a while, and the adventure ended with him unharmed.
- Batman: Gotham Adventures #26 featured an almost identical cover, Batman rooftop-jumping with a baby in his arms. In a mild subversion of the trope, instead of the baby surviving Batman's patrol against all odds, Batman actually avoids a fight by threatening violence far in excess of his usual if the thugs he's captured make him do anything that might hurt the baby. They surrender, and one even tells him he's holding the baby's head wrong.
- Power Girl's baby developed defensive powers in the womb.
- While Rogue had a Touch of Death in X-Men "Messiah Complex", Mystique placed the baby's face on her adopted daughter as this was supposed to awaken her from her coma. Gambit notes that Rogue wouldn't have wanted the baby to die at her expense, but the baby survives anyway.
- Played seriously in the Crossgen comic book series Negation. The baby in question is seen surviving a nuclear explosion among many, many other horrors tossed at it by the bad guys.
- Nomad from Marvel Comics thought it was okay to bring a baby with him on his 'walking the earth' quest. He did have access to many reliable babysitters (think underground good-guy mafia) but he still got himself involved with many a super-fight. Nearly once an issue someone would be shocked he had a baby with him in a dust-up.
- Tenebris and Korbo the Red Shadow from Les Légendaires mercilessly killed a couple of brillant inventors who provided the rebellion with weapons, but they couldn't summon up the resolve to eliminate their baby, and ended up giving her up for adoption. This actually is of some use to the plot, as the baby grows up and comes back for revenge.
- Ironically, the trope is technically constantly averted, since the story takes place in a world where everyone has reverted to childhood, and yet the author has no problem killing some characters. Three actual kids are also shown dead in one book after their town was devastated by Darkhell's army.
- Adam Warlock (or rather his Super-Powered Evil Side, the Magus) weaponizes this by possessing the bodies of children so that the Avengers wouldn't dare to attack him.
- In Innocence Lost, X-23 is sent by Xander Rice to murder his boss/father figure, the man's wife (and Rice's lover), and his boss's toddler son (actually Rice's son from the affair) because his lover was going to confess, and Rice wanted total control of the X-23 project. X kills the parents, but spares the boy. When X then reveals to her creator/mother the truth of what happened, it convinces Sarah to rescue X from the Facility.
- Her "cousin" was kidnapped by a serial killer who preys on children, and is implied to have already killed a number of other girls before he took Megan. Fortunately, X's creator brought her in, and X killed the man before he could hurt her.
- During her solo series it's retconned that Laura failed or refused to kill children on other missions, as well.
- Max Allan Collins, the second Dick Tracy writer (a longtime fan, he inherited the job from Chester Gould) recounts that after reading the story where Gould allowed Junior's innocent little girlfriend Model to get shot and die, he realized Anyone Can Die in Tracy. So when Tracy's infant daughter is kidnapped not long after, and then abandoned in the woods, on the verge of dying of exposure, with wild animals closing in, the tension for the reader was much realer than it otherwise would have been. The baby does get rescued in time but only after a white-knuckle fake-out where it looks like wolves have gotten her!
Films — Animation
- An American Tail: How many cat attacks has Fievel survived in the movies? He even climbs back up a cat's throat in the first movie and the sequel. His baby sister Yasha, when she does actually appear, is never put in any real danger.
- Played for laughs in The Triplets of Belleville. During the car chase one of the Mafia's cars narrowly avoids hitting a screaming woman with a baby carriage by steering to the side and crashing. A second car does, however, impact with the baby carriage — and crumples like an accordion, while the baby carriage and its laughing occupant remains completely unscathed.
Films — Live-Action
- 2012 - Nothing bad will happen to you, so long as you keep hold of one or more children, or the dog. The Russian trophy wife learned this lesson the hard way.
- Armageddon: Many people die in the opening cataclysm. A small pug is spared.
- Taken to semi-extremes in Blade: Trinity. Dracula kidnaps an infant, and threatens to throw it off a skyscraper. He doesn't though, but instead tosses it in the air, letting it fly for roughly twenty feet, and then is caught hard by Blade. The infant survives all of this.
- In the 80's, uber low-budget yet oddly entertaining Mexican supernatural slasher titled Cementerio Del Terror, various characters are introduced, and ultimately twelve of them are put in the path of the psychotic killer and his army of zombies. They are three male college students and their three girlfriends out partying, five children out on a dare (the oldest being of about 14 years old and the youngest about 8), and a Dr. Loomis-esque doctor in search of the sadistic killer. Now, take three guesses as to which five characters survive the killer's rampage.
- Cube is an example of a mentally handicapped adult being the only survivor of the nastiness. If one takes Cube Zero into account, it's very likely he too was murdered.
- In the disaster movie Dante's Peak, the dog (an adorable Picardy Shepherd) disappears about halfway through the movie, while the family are escaping from the erupting volcano. At the end, it turns up alive and unharmed about of absolutely nowhere. This is the film that gave Grandma third-degree burns with sulphuric acid.
- The movie version of Stephen King's Cujo ends, well, differently to the book.
- The titular monster of the B-Movie The Giant Gila Monster gets a lot less scary when it completely fails to catch and eat a crippled nine-year old.
- Hard Boiled: An extreme case - A baby rescued by the hero not only avoids blowing up or getting shot at, he saves the hero's life by putting out his pants, which caught on fire. Especially considering that adult innocents get shot and killed with disturbing regularity.
- Hellboy II: The Golden Army had Hellboy fighting a monster while jumping around on a building, all the while juggling a baby. Most people would set it down or hand it over to the numerous bystanders for safekeeping but thanks to this trope, heroes are free to engage in these theatrics without ever actually harming a child.
- Done in the first Hellboy film as well, only this time with a box full of kittens. Baby + Cat= Immortality
- In Independence Day, both the child and the dog of the protagonist survive all of the events, including a ridiculous scene where the dog manages to leap out of the way of a nuclear blast wave just in the nick of time.
- Independence Day: Resurgence:
- Lampshaded. The current protagonist's mother who became a nurse manages to save a mother and her newborn child from the collapsing hospital but dies in the process.
- When after the alien queen escapes her crashed ship and goes after a group of kids in a school bus a dog appears out of nowhere and David Levinson, who's trying to escape, asks the girl who's rescuing it "Are we really gonna wait for the dog?"
- Woman in the Moon includes a young stowaway on the moon rocket who doesn't get injured during liftoff in spite of his lack of restraints, and is narrowly missed during a gunfight.
- Metropolis features a horde of children trapped in a flooding underground city, all of whom are saved at the very last minute. (In the book, however, it's implied that at least a few of them drown.)
- Mad Max: there is a high-speed car chase and a baby wanders onto the road. After playing the suspense for all its worth, both cars miss the child by centimeters. Later in the movie, a mother and her 3-5-year old are brutally run down off-screen.
- Played with in Men in Black, in which James Edwards, in a live-fire exercise with other potential MIB trainees, shoots a cardboard cutout of a little girl instead of the scary aliens. In a subversion, he justifies this by claiming one alien was simply exercising on a streetlight, the other was sneezing, and the little girl was out late at night, eight years old, with a college-level textbook in her arms, so she was up to something bad.* And, judging that he was chosen to join the organization, this reasoning was absolutely correct.
- Almost averted in Orphan although originally Daniel was supposed to die after Esther smothered him with a pillow.
- In Predator 2, the eponymous alien bounty hunter spares a pregnant cop, and later lowers his sights on a child with a plastic gun after realising the harmless nature of the kid's "weapon." This is justified by the creature's personality as an honour-bound warrior; there's no challenge or sport in killing unarmed children.
- Scarface (1983): Tony Montana fails to kill one of his enemies after seeing his little kids in the back seat of his car. Tony "never fucked over anyone who didn't have it coming to him".
"I don't need this shit in my life!"
- In the classic The Shape of Things to Come, during the prelude to war, the young son of one of the main characters is shown marching and playing his toy drum. As the war breaks out, we see the same boy lying dead amid the rubble, still wearing the toy drum.
- In Shoot 'em Up, Paul Giamatti's Faux Affably Evil villain Hertz has no qualms about killing babies if that's what he's been told to do, and seems to gleefully enjoy running over his target in his car. He's then Squicked out when he discovers that the "baby" he ran down was only a decoy. (The real baby, meanwhile, survives being in the thick of gun battles over and over without so much as a scratch.)
- In the famous "Garbage Day" Rampage in Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, Ricky shoots a bunch of people, but spares a little girl with a speech impediment on a tricycle.
- Snakes on a Plane: the baby is saved from the vicious snakes despite being a handy size and ending up on the opposite side of the plane from the last time we saw it. The person that saved the baby is shortly rewarded with death (and it was her last day on the job, too). It's then subverted with a man throwing an annoying dog at a snake to save himself; he's also promptly rewarded with death and as he was such an ass nobody cared.
- In Speed, it looks like the bus is going to hit a baby carriage, and it does. It turns out the carriage is full of cans.
- Star Trek: Generations — Spot the cat survived the crash of the USS Enterprise (much to the distaste of the actor Brent Spiner, who played Data (the cat's owner) and who in real life hates cats).
- In Volcano, all the small children survive. And so does a small Jack Russell named Bill. Just in case that wasn't enough to assure you no innocents were harmed there is even a brief news report on vets setting up an emergency pet shelter.
- This trope (especially as it applies to dogs) was identified by Roger Ebert in his review of (the 2005 Tom Cruise version of) The War of the Worlds.
- Subverted and played straight in The Witches, the Grand Head Witch (as is the case with any witch) hates children and wishes to ride the world of them. While they seem to never kill children outright though, they still have no problem turning kids into food to be eaten, turning them into stone, turning them into animals that will be killed soon after, or trapping them in paintings. The book also implies that several transformed children (including two frogs and Bruce) would be killed shortly after in various ways and the Witches' main plan in the book and movie involves turning children into mice so that they will be killed by their parents and teachers. On the other hand, the main character survives and the movie has a scene in which the Grand Head Witch seems quite taken with an infant in a carriage - before pushing it down the hill. The hero saves it (justified in that it was mainly to serve as a distraction, rather than trying to kill it).
- Kids in Marvel movies can count on Stan Lee to pull them out of harm's way. (Lee, in turn, can count on Matt Murdock.)
- Lampshaded in the film of Inkheart. When they are captured, Mortimer tells his daughter, Meggie, to pretend she is in a book, since "children always survive in books." She then reminds him that the rule doesn't always apply, such as in "The Little Match Girl".
- In Halloween II (1981), Michael Myers ignores a maternity ward filled with sleeping babies, instead choosing to kill the doctors, nurses, and security guards. On the other hand, one has to imagine that the explosion at the end of the film couldn't have been good for those sleeping babies.
- Brazilian horror icon Zé do Caixão aka Coffin Joe tends to be a vicious sadistic against adults, but won't tolerate any harm inflicted to children, whom he sees as the hopes for a better (or, in his case, I'd rather say superior) world.
- Baby's Day Out. A bloody construction site.
- In Midnight Movie the only survivor is the Bridget's little brother named...Timmy.
- Played straight in Con Air. It seems like Garland Greene, who is tauted as a horrific serial killer, is about to kill the little girl he runs into near the abandoned airfield, but he doesn't.
- Played straight with Jonesy the Cat in Alien, in the Animal Immunity version of this trope. Ripley leaves Jonesy behind when the Alien surprises her, and it curiously looks at the cat as if it's about to eat it. When Ripley gets back the Cat is unharmed.
- Iron Man 2 : Did anyone really think that hammer drone would kill that kid?
- In all the zombie attacks in World War Z not a single child is bitten, nor is a child zombie shown. Tomas survives improbably even after his parents are turned and a young boy in Israel who is seemingly doomed is spared as the zombie horde ignores him due to their inability to see the sick.
- The Cabin in the Woods. Played for Black Comedy when a group of nine-year old Japanese schoolgirls defeat a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl by turning it into a frog. It's reported they have zero fatalities whereupon one of the Punch Clock Villains responds with a Cluster F-Bomb, as they require a Human Sacrifice.
- Big Ass Spider features a scene where the titular creature stalks a young girl at a city park, but just misses spearing her with one of its legs. (Elsewhere, lots of adults get speared/webbed/devoured..)
- Zoe, the little girl standing in front of the tsunami and Akio, the little boy with Ford during the MUTO attack both live through the moments of peril that they experience in Godzilla (2014).
- Adult deaths flow freely in Kingsman: The Secret Service, but in all the scenes of mass violence, children are conspicuously absent. The only child to come under any threat is Eggsy’s little sister and she survives.
- While it looks like the little girl who got attacked by dinosaurs at the start of The Lost World: Jurassic Park was eaten, since the attack happens offscreen, the example is nonetheless played straight in that she's stated to have survived.
- Played straight for the protagonists of Oculus, but they had eventually grown up, which puts them on the danger zone of being killed. Kaylie dies, and Tim is blamed for her murder.
- In Lady Frankenstein, the Monster murders a farmer and his wife, and then looks menacingly at their young son. However, the Monster just stares at him and them shambles off, leaving him unharmed.
- In The Girls, a Roman à Clef about the Manson Family and the Sharon Tate murders, one of the victims is a five-year-old boy. In Real Life, Sharon Tate was 8 1/2 months pregnant.
- Elizabeth Vaughan tells of turning in a manuscript in which an infant died midway through. Her publisher sternly counseled her that "In romance, you can't kill a baby." She had to rework the entire plot to accommodate the infant's survival.
- While the Pern colonists' first encounter with Thread gruesomely killed several adults and at least one young girl, Dragonsdawn does honor this trope with babies. Two infants were the only survivors of the colony's Tuareg nomad camp, having been sealed inside a Thread-proof metal cabinet by their doomed parents, and a house in which a woman is giving birth was instinctively protected by hundreds of the settlement's fire-lizards.
- The very premise of Harry Potter, who is The Boy Who Lived because the evil overlord wanted to kill a baby but wasn't able to. "Trying to kill a baby but not being able to" is probably the most pathetic thing a villain can do. It's hard to think of things that couldn't kill a baby, but apparently Voldy just had to get cute with the Killing Curse, instead of using the much more reliable kick to the head.
- Lampshaded up the wazoo by the Samurai Cat books, in which Shiro the homicidal kitten revels in his Baby+ Cat Immortality, gleefully rushing into meat-grinder battles in the smug confidence that the author wouldn't dare kill him. Eventually this trope was averted in Samurai Cat Goes To Hell, but only as a plot device to send his uncle to retrieve the bloodthirsty little creep.
- Played straight in Breaking Dawn. While all of the Volturi converge to kill Bella and Edward's daughter Renesmee, they all instantly become captivated by her charm when they see her, quickly realize that they were wrong, and go home without a fight. Yes, that was the climax.
- The child supervillain August Prince from Worm has this explicitly as his superpower; his presence renders people incapable of deliberately attacking or harming him.
- Downplayed Trope in The Divine Comedy; there's an offhand mention of unbaptized infants in the First Circle of Hell, but no other children are implied, mentioned, or especially seen to exist throughout the three afterlives of the Comedy, as if it's impossible to die in-between baptism and adulthood.
- Invoked and lampshaded in The Taking: the characters notice that children are the only people universally spared by the invaders and environmental hazards. This is because the "invasion" is actually a Biblical apocalypse, meant to destroy all sinful humans to create a Utopia. The monsters are demons and are physically incapable of harming children, since Children Are Innocent. Two guys actually try to exploit this by surrounding themselves with kids and hunkering down in the town church. Unfortunately for them, a buglike demon catches on to their trick and sneaks in through the basement to kill them without going near the kids.
- Doubly subverted in Angel. Darla, his sire, wants to make sure that he is still soulless, so she leads him to a crib with a baby that she had kidnapped, and tells him to drink its blood (though not in so many words). Courtesy of Dramatic Irony, the audience knows Angel is ensouled. Angel then rescues the child.
- Another Period:
- This is combined with Black Comedy. Peepers threatens a woman by threatening to harm her baby. She agrees to what he says but he didn't think she would and accidentally threw the baby anyway. The baby stops crying and both are horrified but Peepers picks him up and says he's okay and the baby starts crying again.
- Averted off-screen. There is apparently a list of Bellacourt babies who didn't make it to their first baby shower that's recited at the new baby's shower.
- Being Human:
- This trope is played with when a young boy who Mitchell befriended is hit by a car and critically injured. It is left for the mother to decide if he dies...or takes another way out. They play it straight and have Mitchell turn the boy into a vampire.
- The plot of Season 4 revolves around a prophecy in which George and Nina's baby must die to save humanity from global vampire rule.
- Boy Meets World: the sight of an empty hospital bassinet fails to evoke our fears that premature Joshua did not survive, thanks to this trope and the fact that it's a friggin TGIF sitcom. Sure enough, when we pan over, the baby is in mom's arms.
- On the original CSI, the roller coaster "Pharaoh's Fever" was considerate enough of this trope to wait to fail until after a Mom with her kids had disembarked and an all-adult group of riders had gotten on board.
- On an episode of CSI: Miami the team has been searching for a kidnapped baby. When Horatio finds the guy he tries to escape by driving away with the baby in the car. After a car chase through an airport the bad guy's car flips repeatedly and both he and the baby survive without serious injury until Horatio shoots the guy.
- Charmed: Piper's unborn baby is impossible to kill due to the magical lineage of the baby; any fireballs or missiles that flew in Piper's direction were nullified by a glowing barrier orb around pregnant Piper. It is even hinted that the unborn fetus is consciously providing the magical protection. This protection lasts long after his birth. Many episodes featured the villain trying to grab the kid and getting blasted across the room. Although this takes a darker turn when they realize why the child would have gone evil in the future - trauma over someone capturing him and trying for weeks to figure out a way to kill him.
- Doctor Who:
- In the episode "The Runaway Bride", most of the Racnoss's laser beams whip around quickly — except for one heading towards a little girl, which moves sloooooowly enough for someone to grab her and run to safety.
- Dead straight in "The Curse of the Black Spot", in which a child is vaporized by the villain... and the Doctor suddenly knows all's not what it seems. With no in-story reason to think this at all, the Doctor soon decides that the alien may only be moving people, not killing them, and he is soon proven right.
- When Abby and Luka's baby was born prematurely, a scene ended with the baby flatlining in surgery. The next scene indicated that several months had passed and featured staff members quietly discussing the couple's need for privacy. Cut to an empty crib. . .and pan to Abby holding her son. Another example, one of ER's most famous episodes, "Love's Labor Lost" comes very close to averting this when Dr. Green mishandles a routine birth, and up until the final moments of the episode, it seemed very likely that the baby would die, only for him to survive while his mother did not.
- Played straight when Sam's son Alex ran away. The final scene of the episode showed him hitchhiking and being picked up by a truck driver. But sure enough, by the next episode, he was found unharmed. With the exception of Carter's son, this has consistently applied to the children of the staff members—Greene's infant daughter survives her drug overdose, etc.
- In Glue, Ruth's daughter Cassie almost dies twice thanks to her mom's negligence — but survives both times.
- Egregiously played in the National Geographic documentary Guns, Germs, and Steel where a Boer family was attacked by the Zulus and we see the husband, wife, and the older son dead in the morning. However, the infant survived the attack and his cries can be heard.
- In Harper's Island, it was very unnerving that they had Madison, who got people killed because of her withholding information, and her annoying Mom Shea live, while the father, Richard bought it. 99% of the show's fans wish that they both died.
- The Huntress once had Dottie kidnapped by a white supremacist couple who ask her to carry out a drug deal at the town hall. In reality, the case she's to carry is a bomb. However, she sees right through the deception ("They wanted me to bring a package to a government building in the middle of the day. What else could it be but a bomb?") and switches the case with the bomb with the case with the drugs and lets them blow themselves up. Conveniently, it's mentioned their young son is playing at a friend's house at the time.
- Elsewhere in the Tokusatsu genre, the earlier Kamen Rider series, which had far less problem offing random civilians in good-sized numbers to show how bad the Monster of the Week and his plan are than more recent series, have so many instances of death - in so many scary-despite-Special-Effects-Failure forms - instantly taking adults but only hovering menacingly in the direction of children (who are snatched out of the way by Riders) it's hard to pick the best. However, one time in Kamen Rider: Skyrider, a child infected by something that had disintegrated everyone else affected by it is not seen after the woman who'd been carrying her a second ago was kidnapped. By all rights that means she's dead, but we didn't see it.
- It's been confirmed by Damon Lindelof that Vincent the dog survives the entirety of the run of the show.
- When young Ben is shot by Sayid, he survives...in a way that makes him "lose his innocence".
- It was kind of obvious that they were never going to kill Walt.
- In the Animal Planet show Lost Tapes, anytime there's a child involved, they will be ensured to survive. Most egregious example is in the Thunderbird episode, where a boy with a broken leg is picked up by a massive raptor. The end narration says they found him the next morning with minor scrapes and bruises, meaning the giant bird of prey didn't so much as nibble the boy, and carried him in its talons with the utmost care.
- While everyone else in the McNamara family in Nip/Tuck goes through hell and a half, the family's young daughter Annie never seems to have anything bad directly happen to her, at least in the early seasons. In fact, she is completely absent from roughly two thirds of all episodes.
- In the series epilogue of Prison Break, Sara Trancredi is sent to prison and later physically assaulted by female correctional officers for her role in the Fox River break out. However, they gave her the courtesy of avoiding hitting anywhere that would cause harm to her unborn child.
- In Japanese Spider-Man, in which adult characters are rarely spared from tragic deaths for the hero to angst over, one can always be sure that cute kids whose lives are in danger will always be spared. Moreover, one episode featured a heroic dog who was shot and fell hundreds of feet off a dam. Cut to tearjerker scene of the dog lying in the river... his owner calls and the dog struggles to his feet and limps over... and five minutes later, the dog is completely well again.
- In an episode of Stargate SG-1, a young girl is the only survivor of a plague on her planet. It is later revealed that she was turned into a bomb in order to destroy the SGC. She doesn't actually blow up, though.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Operation: Annihilate!", hundreds of people, including Kirk's brother and sister-in-law are killed by the Monster of the Week, but Kirk's nephew survives.
- Star Trek: Voyager.
- Naomi Wildman. Sort of. See, on the day of her birth she is killed...and survives a horrible menace. At the same time. Yes, it is confusing. As usual, in horrible deaths, Harry Kim is part and parcel of it.
- The ship is split into two identical Voyagers. The Harry and Naomi from one die, but the Harry and Naomi of the Voyager that eventually gets kaboom'd manage to survive and join the Voyager crew that lost theirs.
- Torchwood: Miracle Day features a rare example of Infant Immortality being played for Body Horror. The Miracle of the title renders the entire human race immortal....and that includes MISCARRIED FOETUSES.
- Torchwood: Children of Earth a season earlier used a similar Body Horror but also subverted it. The body horror comes in the form of the children taken by the 456 in the 1950s which are integrated into the 456 bodies and are still the same size, then in the finale the surviving Torchwood team come up with a way to turn the 456's signal back on them, but the signal needs to be Powered by a Forsaken Child and the amplification will burn up the child's brain. Jack sacrifices his own grandson while the boy's mother screams and pounds at the door to try and stop it.
- The dog variation is lampshaded by Dr Johnny Fever in an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati in which he says "It's like in the movies, ya know? You can waste the entire Confederate army, nobody cares - hundreds of thousands of guys deader than doornails! But kill one collie, everybody collapses in grief!"
- The X-Files: Played straight with Baby William at every turn. Either Scully is attacked by a giant slug that threatens to abort him ("Roadrunners"), Scully has a placental abruption ("Empedocles"), somebody wants to make sure he isn't born ("Deadalive"), someone evil wants to kidnap him at birth for evil purposes ("Essence/Existence"), a crazy cult actually does kidnap him ("Provenance/Providence"), or he's injected with an unknown substance to cure him of his alien-ness ("William"). And through all of this there's not even a scratch on him. He's one tough little guy.
- A blanket note for several of the examples below: While it's hard to confirm because the ESRB criteria for rating games isn't entirely transparent, a number of people have alleged that allowing the player to deliberately murder children in a game is a fast track to an Adults Only rating; this would be financial suicide for any title with a multi-million budget as all major consoles prohibit AO titles on their system and few retail stores (and no major ones) will carry them. (This may have carried less weight in the 90s, especially for PC games which got lax treatment to begin with.)
- In Tin Star, the titular character refuses to shoot Kid Johnson, a little kid who also happens to be a gunslinging bandit. It turns the Quick Draw Showdown at High Noon with the kid into a Hopeless Boss Fight.
- Baldur's Gate II:
- The PC frees the inmates of an asylum for those driven mad by magical power to help take on Big Bad Jon Irenicus. One of these inmates is a young girl with the ability to shapeshift; she does not actually take part in the battle, in which all the other inmates die.
- Subverted for children on the streets of Athkatla or Baldur's Gate, as you can kill as many as you want...at least until the guards show up.
- Castlevania 64 has the hero fighting horrible menaces to save a human kid named Malus. Then he sends him off into the monster-filled worlds. The rerelease had a different hero give a different kid a plot coupon that would protect him from said monsters.
- Subverted in Malus' case since he's freaking Dracula reborn. In the true ending you get to confront and kill him.
- No children or infants appear in the Crusader series of games, because with the care most players usually take to avoid killing civilians there would be frozen, burning, or gooey babies everywhere. And you can't get baby out of carpet.
- In Dragon Quest V, during the segment where your characters are children, they don't die when they hit 0 HP, but are just knocked out until the end of the battle. Actual — if not-permanent — death isn't an issue until your lead character is an adult.
- Subverted with the PC's own children who CAN get killed in battle
- Fable: The only children to appear are in a town which the player cannot enter without leaving his weapons at the gate.
- You are never unarmed in Fable II, but no matter what you use, you can't kill the kids. Oddly subverted in the intro sequence, in which Lord Lucien shoots dead your sister Rose, who is barely older than you are, and then shoots you with enough force to send you through a window and down a fall you only survive because of your magical heritage. Near the game's ending, Lucien will kill your spouse and children, offscreen.
- In 60 Seconds!, when one of the adults go too long without a needed resource, they die. If a kid goes without food or water, however, they "run away".
- Bethesda invokes this trope whenever their videogames have child NPCs. In both Fallout 3 andSkyrim children are completely invincible. Attacking them won't lower their health at all. This is done to prevent these games potentially being used as child-killing simulators, which would most certainly invoke the ire from Moral Guardians. Bethesda is very strict with this policy, as they forbid any discussion about this subject on their forums, while also allegedly removing Youtube videos showcasing mods that allow players to kill children.
- In Fallout 3, this restricts an Evil player's options in Little Lamplight, a town populated entirely by kids. While children are invulnerable to harm, a "creative" player will discover that you can enslave some, sell drugs and guns to them, bully them, taunt one to run away from his neglectful mother and the evil solution to the "The Power of Atom" quest (detonating the atomic bomb) will kill the two children living in Megaton.
- It's actually still played straight during "The Power of Atom." If you activate the bomb but do not detonate it, leave town, and come back before you finish the quest, you'll find that the two children in Megaton have mysteriously vanished.
- Fallout: New Vegas picks up this policy from its predecessor. The game makes a point of this feature by including a quest where one can find a range finder in order to use a prewar super weapon, the ARCHIMEDES II. However the player character needs to obtain said rangefinder from a child named Max who believes that it a toy. Max can not be killed in order to get the rangefinder off of his body, you must pay him a thousand caps (20 with a high barter skill), or pick pocket him. However Max constantly runs so it is impossible to pick pocket him unless he is asleep.
- Skyrim is actually inconsistent with this trope. While living children are invincible, there are two undead children in the game, them being Helgi and Babette. Helgi is a ghost of a girl who died in a fire, while Babette is a Really 700 Years Old vampire and an assassin of the Dark Brotherhood, who was turned into a vampire at a very young age, meaning both cases avert Infant Immortality. But if the player raids the Dark Brotherhood sanctuary, Babette is nowhere to be found, as to prevent the player from killing a child, despite said child being a self proclaimed three hundred years old killer.
- This is applied strangely in F.E.A.R. Alma is already an Implacable Man, but the moment you have to actually face off against her, she goes from her Creepy Child Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl form to a teenage one. This makes absolutely no sense plot-wise, and seems to be solely so you won't have to face down and eventually shoot a little girl — even one that's already dead.
- It does make sense in the way that Alma is actually grown-up, since she already gave birth to the player character. Thus, you see her "real form" instead of the mind-projection of a little girl.
- Canonically, she was an adult when she died — but, IIRC, only fifteen when she gave birth — but she was unconscious nearly the entire time, and would have no frame of reference for herself looking like this. It doesn't make a lot of sense that she'd psychically project herself as what is, to her, virtually a complete stranger, rather than the image she probably has of herself.
- There's also the small matter of Alma raping the main character at the end of the second game. Doing that while she still looks like a little girl would probably cause even worse publicity than being able to shoot her.
- It does make sense in the way that Alma is actually grown-up, since she already gave birth to the player character. Thus, you see her "real form" instead of the mind-projection of a little girl.
- In Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon, the journey into people's memories starts by chasing a mysterious flying infant, worried that he'll be hurt. He somehow manages to escape the monsters unscathed, though Chocobo has a hard time finding his way through.
- Grand Theft Auto: In a game where you can beat people to death, blow up cars, and just be an all around psychopath, there are no kids and it also regularly Lampshades the absence of pets. Averted in Grand Theft Auto V where it has people walking their dogs and you can kill the dogs for no reason other than to be a complete jerk. Attacking the owners or causing general mayhem will have the dogs attack you and they can One-Hit Kill you if you're not careful. Going into the wilderness will have you encounter deer, coyotes, and rabbits, all which will actively run away from you if you spook them, but cougars will attack you the moment you're spotted by them.
- Gwen in Guild Wars Prophecies is invulnerable. When she appears again as an adult in Eye of the North, she isn't.
- The reason why there aren't any children in Half-Life 2 - so they can't be killed. The game designers turned it at their advantage though: the childless city was explained in-game by a "suppression field" which prevents certain protein chains necessary for embryonic development from forming, according to Doctor Kleiner. There's a great atmospheric moment at the start of the game when you pass by a playground and, if you look at the deserted swing and the broken doll on the ground, you can hear a distant, fading kid's laughter.
- Amusingly lampshaded once the suppression field goes down - Kleiner suggests via broadcast that, while the Citadel's reactor is going critical, "now would be an excellent time for procreation" for those who are out of the city.
- Depending on which games in The Legend of Zelda series and how good the player is, this can either be played straight or subverted with a child Link.
- The Stalchildren and Skull Kids are what's left of children that died or got lost. In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, you even meet a teen in the Lost Woods only for him to have disappeared when you come back later. A Kokiri girl infamously explains that he's become a Skull Kid.
- In The Sims 2 and The Sims 3, babies and toddlers cannot be killed in any way. If they are caught in a fire they will miraculously escape, and if their needs drop too low, a social worker will take them away. The same is true for children, except they actually can burn to death, drown, or get crushed by a satellite or meteor. They just can't get electrocuted, scared to death, or starved to death (the social worker will come first). Pregnant women also cannot die. However, ghosts in 3 can reproduce (with other ghosts or with living Sims), and the babies are sometimes ghosts who will then age like normal Sims.
- This is in full swing in the Siren series... which actually works against the player, as they enforce it by having children panic and curl into a ball before they're actually even hit, yielding a game over. If you're playing one, you're currently playing a stage where not using stealth, rather than just being dangerous and wasteful, is completely impossible. If you have one with you, you have to take great care to protect it — and a stray hit during combat that connects with them causes them to panic as well.
- Both an example and exception in Siren: Blood Curse. On escort missions, you can hurt and kill the person you have to protect. Except 10-year-old Bella. Your weapon has no effect on her. Likewise, enemies can hurt and kill escorts... but when Bella "dies" it's by covering her head and cowering in fear. And when you play as Bella, instead of taking damage from enemy attacks and eventually dying, you cower in fear and scream "NO!" if an enemy gets too close to you, causing you to lose. Technically a way of avoiding showing Bella's obvious death. Yet, the game also creates an exception later when Bella is shown later on having turned into a shibito, the zombie-like creatures in the village. The condition for becoming a shibito is to die, so obviously something happened to Bella. An earlier cutscene shows a large log rolling towards her and a quick cut to black, indicating that's what might have killed her.
- Tails from Sonic the Hedgehog cannot die if you play as both Sonic and Tails in Sonic 2 and 3.
- World of Warcraft follows this to a T. You can slaughter whole towns, but not the children in them. Apparently it's better to let the children get along without their parents that you slaughtered than to also kill them. Then again, given respawn, that's not an issue...so it raises the question of why one can't kill a level 5 child since they'd just come back anyway.
- The reason is, Blizzard doesn't want either side to seem Always Chaotic Evil to the other, and child murder is a good way of crossing the Moral Event Horizon. This is also lampshaded with an in-game holiday dedicated to helping the orphans in every city.
- Averted somewhat lore-wise, given the presence of NPCs such as Pamela Redpath.
- Even then if an undead child has to be depicted, they have to be depicted as that of a ghost. So yeah, no zombie kids for Children's Week.
- It's only to be expected that Zoo Tycoon would honor this trope, being a family game. It's worth mentioning because of how blatantly the Infant Immortality rule is applied: if predators escape or a guest ends up in their enclosures, they'll leap on and attack adult guests, while completely ignoring children. Hence, a runaway lion or tyrannosaur will charge right past a dozen kids to pounce on a grown-up.
- The Sonic Blast Man arcade game (as well as the SNES version) featured a stage where the player must punch out a truck that is about to cross path with a runaway carriage with a baby boy inside it. If the player fails the stage, it will show that the carriage managed to get safely out of the truck's way, only for Sonic Blast Man to get run over in its place.
- It's a good thing this trope is in effect in Shining the Holy Ark. When you're exploring a Haunted House you come across a child called Justin who is searching for his father. You've had to fight tooth and nail to get to the point where Justin is. Justin later turns up in the sequel Shining Force III as one of the main protagonists. There are some allusions to one of the Big Bads bathing in children's blood in order to retain her beautiful image, but we never see it happen.
- However averted in a battle of Shining Force III where three of the five refugees you're tasked with saving are children, they have the lowest hit points in the group so the enemies will target the children over the adults. And yes, you are treated to a 3D cinematic of enemy knights slaughtering helpless civilian children.
- In Virtue's Last Reward, Quark is the only person you will never explicitly see dead. Everyone else is fair game.
- Though it is highly unlikely he survives any of the endings where the whole facility goes up in an explosion.
- In Final Fantasy XII, you will occasionally be joined by a fourth party member. The only guest party member who doesn't eventually die is Larsa, who is twelve.
- In the Japanese version of Scribblenauts, child NPCs have infinite hit points.
- In Nira Oni, a group of teenagers gets trapped in an Abandoned Hospital. Although they're all in danger, most of the cast show particular concern about Cassey's younger sister Ryan, and this directly factors into the ending. Hiroshi can decide to ensure she escapes at any cost, meaning she survives even the worst ending... but at the cost of everyone else.
- In Terraria, the Angler is the only child in the game. He can be hurt by monsters or traps like the other townsfolk, but instead of dying bloodily like the others, he vanishes in a puff of smoke with the message "[name] has left" when his health runs out. Since this is how some phantasmal enemies like the Wraith "die," the most popular explanation is that he's a ghost, so whether this is an aversion or not is unclear.
- The Walking Dead plays with this trope, as while a certainly number of child characters die in horrible ways or are shown undead, a number of them also survive such as Clementine, Alvin Jr. and Sam's brothers in the Michonne spin off regardless of the player's choices.
- In Trauma Team, Alyssa takes a bomb blast at point-blank range. The same type of bomb has already been used to kill 4 adults. Not only does Alyssa survive, she even retains all her limbs (the bomb did mangle her quite badly, but she eventually makes a full recovery.)
- NARC is a famously violent game where you ruthlessly massacre hundreds of people. But killing dogs, even vicious attack dogs, is evidently considered too violent: in most, if not all ports of the game, shooting or blowing up a dog merely turns it into a puppy that runs away.
- Dishonored: While you hear horrible stories of people dying from the Rat Plague (including children) regarding the game world's backstory, the only child you actually meet during the whole game is Emily, and unlike every other NPC in the game, nothing you do can harm her. Subverted at the end of a High-Chaos game, however, as Havelock will attempt to jump from the lighthouse taking Emily with him, and should you screw up, he succeeds.
- In 8-Bit Theater, Black Mage has orphaned a little boy multiple times, although this has been subverted (sort of) when he spared the boy a couple times out of a sick perverse joy in seeing the mental scars he causes pile up.
- Comes back to bite him when it turns out that the kid grows up to become a powerful sage, travels back in time to the start of the universe to make it in his image and prevent Black Mage from scarring him, waits for billions of years because of his future mistake of accidentally sending someone to the start of the universe before himself, and grows up to be Sarda, who finds endless and creative ways of torturing Black Mage.
- Lampshaded in this strip from Acid Reflux.
- In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, a baby is launched in the air by automated zombie quarantine wall. The good doctor, naturally, catches him, much to his own surprise.
- Mentioned in Gold Coin Comics, when Lance survived a childhood fire where everyone else appears to have died.
- Rob and Elliot: Rob attempts to take this to it's logical extreme by making a bulletproof vest out of live babies.
- In episode 4.3 of the Ask That Guy with the Glasses segment of That Guy with the Glasses, he is asked what the plot of a movie with no cliches would be. He responds: "I would say, 2 1/2 hours of blowing up a baby. Think about it: have you ever seen a baby blow up in a movie before?"
- Zig-Zagged with the Darwin Award. Obviously its real life and kids can in fact die. However minors are exempt from earning the titular Darwin Award on the basis that they are simply too naive to know not to do potentially fatal things. When children are caught up in an award winning situation, they are usually treated far more sympathetically, even if they only witnessed death.
- Though frequently, hideously averted with Cub in Happy Tree Friends, this trope is generally played straight with non-anthropomorphic animals, which very rarely die or even suffer injuries.
- On Histeria!!, Big Fat Baby survives a ton of abuse in The History of Poland sketch.
- On Squidbillies, this trope is invoked and has a lampshade hung on it, as the Sherrif disguises himself as a baby so that a pair of monsters won't kill him. It doesn't work.
- Granny: "They hate babies! Quick, nobody dress like a baby!"
- Since Tommy and friends on Rugrats can safely pass through areas such as garages, attics, restaurants, post offices, miniature golf courses, bowling alleys, shopping malls, museums, fairs, Las Vegas, or the forest on their own, they don't really need the "supervision" that they get.
- The titular protagonists from Mega Babies. Given that they have super powers this is to be expected.
- The Simpsons:
- Maggie Simpson has shown to survive and evade situations that any character of an older age within the series would otherwise not be as lucky in. An excellent instance is in episode "The Call of the Simpsons", though there are few other similar instances.
- Lampshaded in "Treehouse of Horror V", where the teachers at Springfield Elementary are trying to kill Bart, Lisa, and Milhouse:
Bart: Don't worry guys, something always comes along to save us.
[Milhouse falls backwards into a meat grinder]
Bart: Nevertheless, I remain confident that someone will come along and save the Simpson children.
- In Defenders of the Earth, though children and teenagers (including Rick, LJ, Jedda and Kshin, who are also subject to Plot Armor) are placed in life-threatening situations, all onscreen deaths, unless they involve the destruction of robots, are of adult characters. Kshin's death scene in "100 Proof Highway" doesn't count as it happens in a vision which Mandrake conjures up to teach Kshin a lesson about underaged drinking.
Come on reaper, don't fear the baby...