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Jail Bait

Malory: For God's sake, Sterling, she's turning seventeen!
Archer: Oh, ew, sorry.
Lana: Even for you, Archer.
Archer: Come on, she doesn't look like she's turning seventeen.
Lana: No, she looks like she's turning eighteen.
Archer: Exactly! Plus, the Europeans use the metric system, so...
Archer

Sometimes they're Younger than They Look. It may be difficult to realize this until it is too late, however. Especially if they claim to be Totally Eighteen.

In Real Life, it is a serious crime (statutory rape, possibly also endangering a minor) for a legal adult to have sex with a minor who is below the age of consent (even if it is consensual, the reasoning being that a minor, given her immaturity, can't be trusted to be of sound enough mind to give consent in such a situation), usually 16-18 in North America and 14-16 in Europe, but in fiction is almost always 18. note  The term for a person, or provocative pictures of them, who is under that age but looks either old enough or hot enough for onlookers to forget the difference is "Jail Bait." The "joke" about this was "15 will get you 20", only it isn't a joke—according to the law, a minor can't give proper consent to sex since a teenager might not make the most sound decisions and an adult could exploit that, hence the term "statutory rape".note 

See also The Jail Bait Wait. Contrast Dawson Casting. Not to be confused with Jail Bake. Compare Fille Fatale which is a more...proactive version of this trope.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime/Manga  

  • Note: Every entry in the Anime/Manga section is Jail bait outside of Japan. Age of Consent in Japan is 14 years old.
  • In Mirai Nikki, the two protagonists are both 14 years old. However, the story makes it reeeeeeeeeal easy to forget that fact. Besides almost being raped at one point, the female lead is constantly seen in a bra and panties (or less), chapter 52 showcases the two of them having sex, complete with fully-exposed breasts.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion features Asuka Langley Soryu and Rei Ayanami, both of whom are 14 and who are repeatedly depicted sans clothes or in suggestive poses. As with the above example, either a case of values dissonance or a side effect of it being Evangelion.
  • Nadia: The Secret of Blue Waters titular character is yet another 14 year old, who spends the majority of her screentime in a stripperiffic circus costume and is depicted as quite nubile, despite her age. This is often used for fanservice, at one point, spending almost two full episodes nude.
  • Girls Bravo: To say she's only 16, Kirie's stacked, has a killer bod, and is the series' main source of fanservice, between being the target of Kosame's and Fukuyama's unwanted advances. Several episodes show her in the nude and various states of undress. At other times, the series either has Fukuyama brazenly fondle her, or lift up her skirt - which usually goes on for several seconds before she either sends him flying, or suplexes him.

     Comics  

     Film  

  • In Trainspotting, Mark Renton has sex with a girl he meets at a bar, discovering the next morning that she is fifteen when she appears in her school uniform and her "flatmates" are actually her parents. Later, she threatens to tell the police if he does not see her again.
  • In the movie Lifeguard, the chief lifeguard warns his assistant that having sex with an underage girl — even if she's willing — is a crime. Then he goes ahead and has sex with one anyway after warning the trainee that it's a bad idea.
  • MTV had a TV movie about this named after the trope. The reason why it's notable is that the titular jailbait later became the Pink Ranger on Power Rangers S.P.D..
  • In Animal House, Clorette blurts out "I'm only thirteen" during a makeout session. The line was actually a Censor Decoy put in so that the writers could get away with "I'm only seventeen" as a "compromise", but it went though without modification.
  • In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, McMurphy is serving out a sentence for statutory rape. During his interview with Dr. Spivey, he says, "She was fifteen years old going on thirty-five, Doc, and she told me she was eighteen."
  • The main character in The Crush is 14 and obsessed with the 28-year-old renting her parents' guest house. He spurns her advances, citing her age as part of the problem. She then frames him for raping her; the cops point out that, given that she's just a kid, of course they don't believe she set him up.
  • In For Your Eyes Only, a young figure skater named Bibi tries to seduce Bond; however, he turns her down, as this is one line that he will clearly not cross.
  • Parodied in 13 Going On 30 when Jenna (a 13-year-old in the body of a 30-year-old) gets told by her friend that a guy is checking her out. Jenna ignores the adult man winking at her and flirts with a preteen guy instead. Her friend drags her away instantly.
    Lucy: What do you want? A jail sentence? I was talking about that guy.
    Jenna: The man? Oh gross.

     Literature  

  • Male example in Haunted 2005. Brandon Whittier is a thirteen-year-old boy suffering from progeria, which causes him to age at seven times the normal rate. He amasses a fortune by telling his nurses he's eighteen, begging them not to let him die a virgin, and then revealing his age and demanding money in exchange for not reporting them.
  • In the early Legacy of the Aldenata novels, Cally O'Neill's apparent age, actual age, and willingness to defend her virtue at gunpoint caused posters with her picture on it to be put up all around her home town with the message: WARNING: Jailbait. To be considered armed and dangerous.
  • The age of consent in A Brother's Price is sixteen. Jerin Whistler spends most of the novel at fifteen, just two months shy of his birthday. When Ren seduces him, she thinks of his age with embarrassment.
  • Invoked in MAD's "Pantheon of Olympic Gods" with Pubertina: Goddess of jailbait teenage gymnasts.
  • Vampire Academy — Jill's nickname from Adrian, which prompts a horrified reaction from his mother when she hears it.

     Live Action TV  

  • In the first episode of Californication, Hank has a one night stand with a young woman who turns out to be the sixteen-year-old daughter of his ex-girlfriend's fiancé (though he did not know who or how old she was at the time.) Three seasons of blackmail and plagiarism later, the truth is finally revealed and Hank is arrested and charged with statutory rape.
  • When new watcher Wesley expresses interest in Cordelia on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this is Faith's response:
    • In the Musical Episode Buffy's little sister Dawn is kidnapped by a demon who wants to make her his queen.
    ♫ What I mean / I'm fifteen / So this "queen" thing's illegal!
  • In the British sitcom Outnumbered, there is a Rare Male Example in the Brockmans' teenage son Jake, who is 15 and dating a lap-dancer who believes he's 17. He eventually tells her this, at which point she reveals herself to be a straight example herself, in that she's 16 and lap-dancing illegally.
  • In one episode of NCIS, one particularly Jerk Ass suspect alibied out of the Murder of the Week because he was having sex with a senator's seventeen-year-old daughter at the time. Ziva promptly (and rather smugly) arrested him for statutory rape.
  • British police drama The Bill had an interesting example. A drunken man picked up a very willing female partner in an adult nightclub and ended up bedding her. Some months later this girl's mother found out about it and reported them to the police since her daughter was under the age of consent (16 in the UK). The police established that the fourteen year old had deliberately used clothes and make up to make herself look older than she really was, and persuaded the male to confess, reasoning that he had been careless but that it wasn't really in the public interest to prosecute him so he would be given a slap on the wrist and let go. Then it transpired that the girl's birthday was incorrect due to adoption or some other reason, so she was actually twelve at the time, thus meriting a statutory rape charge. That the unwitting guy had just confessed to. Oops.
  • In Tinsel, Angela Dede thinks she's dating the twenty-something year old guy she met at an office party until his mother — her boss — tells her he is seventeen and is a frequent offender.
  • 8 Simple Rules
    • Bridget Hennessey in frequently flirts with older guys even if she is only sixteen or seventeen though the only actual relationships she's had are with fellow classmates. Her sister also drops this line during a conversation.
    Bridget: Just use the line I use whenever I need to break up with a guy.
    Kerrie: I'm only seventeen, you'll go to jail?
    • She also nearly got picked up by a cop at a nightclub. This was during the third season so it's not clear whether or not she had turned eighteen yet.
  • There was an unsuccessful Spin-Off of Married... with Children called Top of the Heap (it only lasted seven episodes, but that was still longer than the other two attempts at spin-offs for the show.) In the first episode, an attractive teenage girl tries to seduce the young, male protagonist; he suggests she come back "when you're not a felony."
  • In The Dick Van Dyke Show Laura was only seveteen when they got married. Rob did not know this.

     Music  
  • "Young Girl" by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap is all about this—the singer has discovered that his girlfriend is underage and tells her to go away "before I have the time/to change my mind".
  • The song Jailbait by Motörhead is about underage groupies who show up at the band's shows.
  • Christine Sixteen by KISS is about an older man who becomes infatuated with a sixteen year old girl. Because of the controversial subject matter many radio stations refused to play the song when it was released in 1977.
  • Winger's most popular song, Seventeen, is about a man who meets a woman he is intensely attracted to, and his surprise when she tells him "I'm only seventeen."
  • Joan Jett, anyone? In her signature song, I Love Rock and Roll, she declares "I knew he musta been about seventeen." Joan was 21 when she first covered the song on a recording.
  • Andre Williams' 1957 single "Jail Bait" obviously isn't the Trope Namer, but still.
  • The Rolling Stones' "Stray Cat Blues" declares "I can see that you're just fifteen years old / But I don't want your ID." In live performances, Mick Jagger would often adjust the girl's age downwards.
  • Love/Hate have "Rock Queen" who is apparently "thirteen, buxom blonde, bad dream"
  • "My Sharona" by The Knack features the line "I always get it up/ for the touch/ of the younger kind." The real "Sharona" was 17 at the time. Even worse, she posed for the album sleeve in a very obviously bra-less picture...
  • "Little Girls" by Oingo Boingo is either a creepy song from the point of view of a pedophile, or a parody of this kind of song taken to its logical extreme, or both.
  • Cherie Curie of The Runaways was marketed as such. She was fifteen when the band was formed and was given a racy and provocative magazine spread. There was also a famous performance in Japan where she sang onstage in lingerie.
  • "Hot Blooded" by Foreigner features the line "Are you old enough? / Will you be ready when I call your bluff?"
  • Proyecto Uno's cover of "Nu nu" is about the singer going into a disco, picking an incredibly hot girl who was checking him, and then while dancing discovering that the girl is only 15 years old. The singer is scared and stupefacted at this revelation: "How I'm going to do/if the chick is hotter than my ex-girlfriend!"
  • "Does Your Mother Know (That You're Out)" by ABBA is about a guy in a dance club who realizes that the girl flirting with him is (probably) underage. He's still willing to flirt and talk with her, though, but he's careful not to let things get too far.
  • Although neither song contains anything inappropriate (even by 1950's standards), the two Chuck Berry classics "Sweet Little Sixteen" (featuring, obviously a 16 years old) and "Little Queenie" (featuring a girl "too cute to be a minute over 17") take on a bit of this when you remember that the songs were written and performed by a man in his late 20s, early 30s. And the less said about "Sweet Little Rock and Roller" in this context, the better which is why covers of the song usually adjust the girl's age to nineteen.
  • It's the subject of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm On Fire", though because he does not specify which age the "little girl" he sings to is, it can also make him into a Memetic Molester. It should be noted that in the video the woman is an adult and the "forbidden fruit" aspect comes from her being married.

     Professional Wrestling 
  • GLOW had such a character named Jail Bait. In her opening rap she even drops the "fifteen will get you twenty" line.
  • JAPW's and later, Ring of Honor's Christopher Street Connection had a member named Jail Bait, who was unfortunately pulled into the stoner group Special K.
  • GLOW's Spiritual Successor Wrestlicious had another called Juvi Hall.
  • Kelly Kelly was seventeen when she was signed. She didn't debut her striptease segment until after she'd turned eighteen but still...
  • Sexy Juliette made her debut at fifteen. Then again, her gimmick was hunting the wicked...

     Tabletop Games  
  • In the controversial card game Pimp: The Backhanding, the flavour text for one of the 'whores', Ursula, reads, "Are you sure you're 18?" This particular card earns a penalty if the "Undercover Cop" card is played by an opponent.

     Theatre  

     Video Games 
  • A rather… demented example is Mileena in Mortal Kombat. Probably the biggest example of Ms. Fanservice in the game (as long as she keeps her mask on) the storyline of most of the series claims she grew up with her “sister” Kitana, and is several centuries old. However, in Mortal Kombat 9, the Retcon changes this so that Kitana meets her in the Flesh Pits right after she was “born”, meaning Mileena is more-or-less an infant as far as her true age is concerned. (Of course, it should be noted that the fans perception of Mileena is very different than that of any character in the game, to say the least.)
  • Street Fighter Alpha 3: According to her official character bio, Juli is 16 years old, though her in-game character model and her official artwork makes her appear to be in her late teens-early 20's. Plus, she's stacked, has killer legs, wears a leather catsuit, and her ending with Juni (also 16) contains a bit of Homoerotic Subtext. Lastly, there's the possibility that T. Hawk (who's in his mid-late 20's) may have been her boyfriend. Yeah.

     Webcomics  

  • In one early story arc of Least I Could Do, Rayne met a girl in a bar, and slept with her, not unreasonably assuming that she was over 18. However, she was actually 16 and still in high school. Rayne was arrested but eventually acquitted as there was no way he could have known she was under age, since 16 year old high school students aren't supposed to hang around in bars. Rayne them asked if this meant he could legally sleep with sixteen year olds if he met them in bars, causing John and his lawyer to drag him out of the courtroom.

     Web Original  

  • A flash game on New Grounds deals with this trope, in which the viewer is asked to identify whether the featured celebrity is Jail Bait or legal. Surprisingly safe for work, but expect to be called a Covert Pervert if you guess wrong with actual jailbait, and Ambiguously Gay if you guess wrong if they're legal.
    • Also playing it requires knowledge of how old the celebrities were when the game was made. Several years on, all of those who appear in the game are now of legal age.
  • During his Let's Play of Final Fantasy X, Spoony repeatedly comments on how creepy it is to see 15 year old Rikku sexualized as much as she is, including repeated ass shots.note 
    Rikku: Well, just give me five or six more years. (Slaps her ass)
    Spoony: Woah! You are a prison sentence waiting to happen kid!
    • Although, interestingly enough, Rikku herself mentions that (mainly due to the influence of Sin shortening everyone's life spans) many girls her age in Spira are getting married... and presumably everything that comes with that.

     Western Animation  
  • Even Sterling Archer, for all the depraved sexual acts he's performed (willingly and otherwise), draws a line at underage women. Even when being informed that the girl in question is legal in the country he's in, he refuses to give in to her advances, showing it's more of a personal rule than actual being afraid of jailbait. It might even be the first time we see Archer have an actual set of principles. note 
  • An episode of Family Guy has Brian infer from a comment by a recent sexual partner that she's sixteen, to which she responds that she will be in a few months (which prompts him to state that she'll get a car as a present from him to keep quiet about it).


Introduction by HookupSex TropesThe Jail Bait Wait
Iron LadyAlways FemaleJeanne d'Archétype
I Was Quite a LookerAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!The Jail Bait Wait

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