aka: The Bumble Bee
Little. Yellow. 'Special'. Kids love him!
Chris: Friends of yours?
: More like obligatory kid appeal characters.
The Kid Appeal Character is typically the character designed to appeal to a younger demographic
. Cute, popular, tiny, likely to be Totally Radical
, and almost always the youngest character on The Team
, he's invariably obnoxious and thinks he's so totally cool, in a frantic effort to convince viewers that this is a family friendly show.
As well as that, the Kid Appeal Character is all too often portrayed as seeing The Hero
and/or The Leader
of the Good Guys as his Father Figure. If the Leader is also quite young, chances are he'll see him as his Big Brother. In the same regard, he may look at The Lancer
as being his uncle. Often, but not always, yellow (if the character is female, she'll almost certainly be pink) but frequently brightly colored at any rate.
Depending on how young he is, how nice he is, or how old his father/brother figure is, the Kid-Appeal Character will usually take one of these roles:
- Clown. Not just any clown either, this is the Kid Clown, who hurls humor at every available point. He may be funny, he may be clumsy, or he may just be the joker of the team, playing pranks, making wisecracks and sometimes just whining about all the problems that are going on. Usually Played for Laughs, but may have a serious side.
- Weak but Lovable. Often getting into trouble, whether it's with the enemies or with the badass members of the good team. He's still kid-appeal heavy, but less of a prankster. Their bravery as a Reckless Sidekick often backfires on them, but they have just enough nobility or good intentions to avoid being written off as useless.
- Ankle Biter. Mega-brave young character who's awfully gutsy for his (or her) puny age, puny height, or puny strength. They may be swatted aside by the more powerful enemies, but their determination will not let them stay down. Sometimes they'll make them a Cute Bruiser so he can match the big guys, or a Fragile Speedster in combat.
- Teen Genius (or Pre-Teen Genius). The Gen-X/Millennial type who is more tech savvy than the older generation.
- Some combination of all of the above.
The Kid Appeal Character tends to stand out, especially in a story largely involving adult characters. Because of this any version can become The Scrappy
, which is fitting since the original Scrappy
was one of these. The ways this can happen is: The Clown is obnoxious as well as a Karma Houdini
, the Weak But Lovable one never shows any real sign of helpfulness
, the Ankle Biter slowly takes up prominence in the story over the primary characters, and as for the Teen Genius
... have you ever heard the name "Wesley Crusher
"? Slightly more common is for the character to acquire a Periphery Hatedom
: loved by his intended fanbase, hated by everyone else.
If the Kid-Appeal Character is a member of a Five-Man Band
, they're probably The Chick
or The Heart
as the moral center of the team, always considering the little guys. It's also possible that they're The Smart Guy
instead, more adapted to modern technology than their older teammates. They won't often be The Leader
, The Lancer
, or The Big Guy
, though, as they rarely have enough strength for any of those roles (strength of personality for the first two and physical strength for the third). A smart leader is often fully aware that the Kid-Appeal Character is not a strong front-line warrior and will assign them roles better suited towards their skills, such as being a scout (like Optimus Prime
did with the former Trope Namer
, Bumblebee). On the other hand, they may be explicitly not
part of the team, being a Tagalong Kid
(or in nonhuman cases, a Team Pet
) at best. This doesn't preclude showrunners from trying to appeal to kids by giving the character their own subplots, taking care of something the main heroes are otherwise too distracted with (see the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers
movies described below).
Kids love to purchase his toys
writers love to give them massive sex roles
and pair them up with their father figure.
See also Tagalong Kid
, Bratty Half-Pint
, Kid Sidekick
, Plucky Comic Relief
. The Bumbling Sidekick
and Gratuitous Animal Sidekick
are two common ways of appealing to kids. Compare Cousin Oliver
. Parental Bonus
is the inverse.
open/close all folders
- Cowboy Bebop: Ed, being the youngest and most playful plays Kid Appeal Character to Spike Spiegel's Hero, Jet Black's Lancer.
- Seira, the Token Mini-Moe of Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, pumps up the kid appeal and has a whole season revolving around her.
- Sailor Chibimoon of Sailor Moon does this, and became a one-girl Spotlight-Stealing Squad in season four after two seasons with her hanging around the older girls and playing with sparkly wands to match her mom's. Sailor Mercury came close, so she's a type 4.
- Ash's Pikachu of Pokémon. Very much a Type 3. Its species is extremely weak (though the Light Ball makes this debatable), and particularly in the first season, it got beaten by pretty much every Gym Leader at least once, but it always got back up. It's far and away the most popular character, and it's yellow.
- Chopper from One Piece.
- Hwang Bu-ling/Mew Pudding of Tokyo Mew Mew fits here: eight years old, wears bright yellow, equal member of the team, and dove right into danger even before she or anyone knew she had any powers. Even her Verbal Tic (nano da!) screams cute exuberance.
- Naruto is a rare occasion where the Kid-Appeal Character is the main character. Brightly colored, often obnoxious and alternatively very weak and ridiculously strong, and to top it all off, his leader wears a mask over◊ the lower part of his face◊. This is even Lampshaded in the story itself, as a few characters make the snarky observation that Naruto is the kind of person who would never be the main character in some story.
- Until the Time Skip and several power ups made took place.
- Gaara is a rather interesting case; being a former Ax-Crazy antagonist, he becomes a stoic variation of this trope among the 5 kages once he takes up the mantle of kazekage, becoming the youngest to hold the title.
- Nearly all of the seasons in Digimon have at least one of these:
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Simon is this in the first half, as a teenager who looks younger in a cast of young adults.
- Gohan, Goten and Trunks in Dragon Ball Z. Also, Krillin due to all his panicking.
- In Go Lion, Hiroshi "Chibi/Shorty" Suzuishi is the youngest at 12, plus he's always trying to prove himself and gets excited so easily.
- Jinpei from Science Ninja Team Gatchaman is often boastful, sometimes capable of taking out bad guys and sometimes not, and makes stupid jokes. He has occasionally felt the need to prove himself, and gone to deal with the villains. The various derived characters in adapted versions of the show have the same characteristics.
- In Saint Beast, in comparison to the rest of the cast Gai is younger, more energetic, less mature, fun and inquisitive, and to top it off has yellow and dark brown hair.
- X-Men usually has one of these characters, though sometimes it's less bright-coloured and more fuzzy. Either that, or Wolverine's young, female spunky sidekick. Whichever one he has at the time. They're usually female, the order for the main team was Iceman, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, Jubilee, Cannonball, Husk, Armor, and now Oya.
- Jubilee emulated the former trope namer by wearing a lot of yellow.
- In New X-Men, Pixie was one of the youngest, had brightly coloured wings, and was otherwise comic relief. For the few issues that focused on her before Break the Cutie (Which really didn't break her very much at all).
- Jolt was this in the early years of Thunderbolts.
- Impulse in Young Justice and Kid Flash in Teen Titans, perhaps. Bart's mostly type 1 with bits of type 4 thrown in when necessary.
- The original Bumblebee is usually portrayed in comics as being the sort who keeps trying to "prove himself" to his bigger, stronger teammates, and usually gets into trouble because of it. (Prime, for his part, thinks Bumblebee has proven himself well enough in his given role of a spy that he shouldn't feel like this.)
- Robin was originally an obvious Type 2, and even has the yellow cape. In fact, most comic-book sidekicks in the Golden and Silver Ages (Bucky, Speedy, Wonder Girl, Aqualad, Captain Marvel Jr. and Mary Marvel, Supergirl, ect.) were created specifically to give readers a character to identify with.
- The Human Torch in the Fantastic Four was the teenager in a cast of adults. Early on in the series, he was extremely popular and was the Breakout Character with his own spinoff within a year after the series started. His popularity was one of the reasons why Marvel created other teen superheroes like Spider-Man and the X-Men.
- Speaking of Spider-Man, when he is put into a team dynamic, such as The Avengers, he usually fits this trope as a combination of the Type 1 Clown and the Type 4 Smart Guy, in fact there have been team-ups where he has out and out stolen this role from Johnny Storm, to the point where he's temporarily taken Johnny's place on the FF!
- Dilton Doiley was technically this. He's a type 4 and possibly one of Riverdale High's shortest students.
- Also Jughead's baby sister Jellybean and Veronica's cousin Leroy, as well as Li'l Jinx and her friends.
- Unsurprisingly, taking example from all versions prior, Bumblebee is again this in Transformers Meta. Customarily, he is yellow, the youngest on the team, and fast (his peds are actually wheels). But his kid appeal factor is accentuated in his eccentrically childish, whimsical, and optimistic personality. He is the Ankle Biter on the team, but occasional tendencies qualify him as Weak but Lovable.
- He is a Fragile Speedster, as Hound's analysis of him indicates when they were training in the fifth episode.
- Despite his naivety, he has proven competent in battle when he almost got the upper hand over Barricade in the third episode and when he helped fight Starscream and ended up overcoming Waspinator, which also makes him somewhat of a Cute Bruiser.
- To some extent, Mariko and Chiyoko from the Lucky Star fanfics Holiday Vacation and Lucky Star After Story. The former for being a Badass Adorable Genki Girl and the latter for being an Adorkable Token Mini-Moe.
- Quite obviously, Jar Jar Binks from the Star Wars prequels was meant to be this. Being out of place in the story however, caused the attempt to backfire miserably. Reasons why people hate him range from more plausible to outright preposterous, but one thing is for certain: admitting to liking him is a death warrant.
- He fills basically the same "funny personality" role as R2-D2 and C3-PO. But both R2 and 3PO had valuable technical skills compared to Jar Jar's convenient clumsiness. Still, 3PO fits this trope more than R2 because he's always complaining.
- And of course, R2 and 3PO were still present in the films that Jar Jar appeared in, making Jar Jar somewhat redundant.
- Jar-Jar's position is further weakened by the fact that The Phantom Menace had Anakin himself as a child. That brought us to the absurd critical mass of four Kid Appeal Characters in the movie: one useful multitool, one chatty throwback to the original trilogy, one chosen one... and Jar-Jar. That's a lot of kid appeal for a series with so many adult fans, so dislike for the least plot-critical of them was inevitable, even if Jar-Jar wasn't totally obnoxious and often offensive (and he was). Fortunately, the second and third prequels both toned him down and reduced his role.
- The twins in Revenge Of The Fallen, as Michael Bay states, were meant to be this (hell, they're even stuck with Bumblebee for much of the movie)... in spite of being violent Jive Turkeys who keep beating up each other. Their toy bios essentially say that being among the few Autobots who made it to Earth made them living their dream of working directly alongside Optimus Prime, which is certainly a common trait for this type of character. Their immature wrestling and talking about being "quiet like a ninja" also highlights their relative youth.
- In the third film, Bumblebee's kid-friendly nature gets taken advantage of by Laserbeak, who turns into a mini pink Bumblebee to convince a little girl to let him in so that he can assassinate her father.
- In Dark of the Moon the character type is also embodied by the duo of Wheelie and Brains, who are small robots and basically act like kids during the course of the movie. Unlike Skids and Mudflap, though, they have relatively little screen time and would rather be chilling at Sam's home watching TV instead of being involved with the Robot War.
- Skippy Rabbit from Disney's Robin Hood falls into the Ankle Biter category.
- Weak but lovable type in Olivia from The Great Mouse Detective.
- Chip from Beauty and the Beast (though he didn't originally have more than one line; the makers were impressed by the actor and wanted to see more, while also noting it as a useful chance to have kid access if not mandated kid appeal).
- The Black Cauldron has Gurgi and the Creeper.
- Po Ping, the title character of Kung Fu Panda, though Character Development and taking multiple levels in badass gives him some adult appeal.
- Gavin Darklighter plays this role in the first four books of the X-Wing Series. Well, sort of. He starts out as a sixteen-year-old Farm Boy from Tatooine who is utterly naive and gets taunted by the rudest of his fellow Rogues, who for the most part are five to ten years older than he is. So he serves to be the newbie trying to find his place and being surprised by things that the older pilots find commonplace. While his subplots are pretty much in the background, he does go through Character Development and grow and mature. Eventually, by the New Jedi Order, he's the leader of Rogue Squadron.
- Gavroche, from Les Misérables, of the plucky ankle-biting variety. His reaction to getting shot at by the military is to make up on the spot a song insulting French intellectuals! Then, this being Les Misérables, Reality Ensues.
- In Harry Potter, Neville Longbottom is the kid appeal character due to his panicking. He turns brave later, though.
- If a set of mythology can feature a Kid-Appeal Character, Perceval definitely counts.
Live Action TV
- While several Power Rangers have Kid Appeal elements, few really seem to go so far as to be a viewpoint character kids are "supposed" to identify with. One that definitely does, though, is Justin Stewart from Power Rangers Turbo, currently the only one who was a Ranger as a kid when most are in their late teens or early twenties. Other good candidates include:
- Kelsey Winslow from Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue. A quintessential Type 3 — an extreme daredevil who always loved to show off. (Also a Yellow Ranger.)
- Max Cooper from Power Rangers Wild Force. The definite kid of the group (high school age when the others were in college at a minimum) and had childlike enthusiasm to match, but got a lot less focus than your standard example.
- Ziggy Grover from Power Rangers RPM, fitting Type 2: a Lovable Coward, the weakest fighter on the team (he became a Ranger by accident), best buds with and sidekick to the Troubled, but Cute Lancer, and something of a viewpoint character as a Meta Guy. However, he was the same age as the other Rangers and didn't come off as all that "childlike" in comparison, being in trouble with organized crime and showing hints of being a Chivalrous Pervert.
- Also from RPM, Sixth Rangers Gem and Gemma, who were extremely childlike (even seeming to be developmentally a year or two behind the target audience). They're more of a subversion, really; rather than being audience surrogates for kids, their immaturity came off as them being very very screwed up.
- Another blatant one was Fred in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie. While the Rangers fought off the monsters he rallied Angel Grove's kids (and Bulk and Skull) to rescue their parents. Made all the more obvious because he's the only "civilian" character who wasn't part of the show's regular cast.
- Power Rangers ' parent series, Super Sentai, has this trope recurring because of the Five-Man Band layout. There's several kinds of Kid Appeal Characters, whether they are eccentric geniuses (Yuuma / Change Pegasus, Sion/TimeGreen or Don/GokaiGreen), immature pranksters (Bun/Blue Flash, Hikaru/GingaYellow or Kai/GaoBlue), scatterbrains (Saizou/Ninja Blue, Ken/GekiChopper, or Hant/Go-On Green), or reckless hotheads (Kenji/MidoRanger, Hyou/Vul Panther, Yuuji/Oh Blue or Daimon/Go Yellow).
- More commonly, when the other main four roles except The Smart Guy is taken... and this Smart Guy isn't really as SMART, then this is the place of the kid appeal character. In older times, this trope can also be applied for the youngest (mostly) male character (Aoyama/Goggle Blue, Akira/Blue Mask, Boi/Tiger Ranger, Naoki/Blue Racer) as due to their youth, they seem to appeal more for kids.
- There has been a literal Kid Appeal Character (Ko/Kibaranger). Other Kid Appeal Characters include technical variations in which one of two females is the youngest member in a team (Ako/Blue Swallow, Umeko/Deka Pink, and Moune/Gosei Yellow) as well as bumbling leaders (Kai Ozu/Magi Red, Alata/Gosei Red, and Daigo/Kyoryu Red).
- Beside members of Super Sentai teams, there have been a few villains fitting in the trope as "Kid-of-Heel" characters, like Tran, Prince Buldont, and Luckyuuronote
- Also, Riki / King Ranger averted this trope in regards that he's six million years old. Also averted with any Smurfette Principle being the youngest member of their respective teams as well as Souji / Kyoryu Green.
- Not all Super Sentai teams have a kid-appeal character, but a few of these have a Plucky Comic Relief that would come close to being one like Shunsuke/Yellow Turbo or Beet J. Stag/Stag Buster.
- The three main characters in Beetleborgs are a team of kid appeal characters.
- It is pretty much law that every Disney Channel show has to have at least one kid character in order to appeal to the network's youngest demographic. They usually appear in the form of a precocious/bratty/wisecracking kid brother or sister whose job consists of being obnoxious to both the main characters and, unfortunately, the viewer (see Annoying Younger Sibling). Examples include Matt on Lizzie McGuire, Cory on That's So Raven, Pim on Phil of the Future, Rico on Hannah Montana, Sophie on Cory in the House, Max on Wizards of Waverly Place, and Flynn on Shake It Up.
- Matthew in NewsRadio
- Mark McCain in The Rifleman definitely falls into this trope. He's sweet'n'innocent, but he can be pretty scrappy if the situation calls for it. But usually, he's there to provide a kid's perspective of the situation and to allow Lucas to become Mr. Exposition.
- Jimmy, the thirteen-year-old resistance fighter in Falling Skies, looks as if he may shape up to be one of these. However, he is currently off the main fighting team after panicing in combat, so it is unceartain if he will develop into one or not.
- Sesame Street is a show already aimed at children (and their families) but even in that context, Elmo is a character designed to represent and appeal to the youngest members of the show's target demographic.
- Doctor Who often uses companions for this:
- When Sydney Newman and Verity Lambert were conceptualising their new science fiction serial, Newman told her that the Doctor needed a friend who was 'a kid who gets themselves into trouble' to appeal to the child audience, which they decided should be a teenage girl. Since it was important that it didn't appear that anything creepy was going on, she was made into his granddaughter. Verity Lambert eventually created Susan Foreman, a weird, Creepy Good alien Action Girl, but Newman had her Retooled into a 'normal girl' in between the unaired pilot and "An Unearthly Child" to make her more appealing to the child audience.
- Susan's Suspiciously Similar Substitute Vicki was much the same, being even younger and having a cuter personality, as well as resembling a futuristic Scooter Riding Mod.
- Jamie - very young, naive, a bit stupid, loveable and resembling a trendy 1960s teen as much as possible considering his 18th Century origins. He was written into a pure historical serial as a very minor character, but was added to the permanent cast at the last minute because the crew realised a cute teenage Scottish warrior would be appealing to children and young teenage girls. Frazier Hines even described his job at one point as being 'paid to get the girls back from the disco'.
- The Fourth Doctor companion K-9, a cute, Literal-Minded, brilliant but naive Robot Dog, was added for this reason.
- The Fourth and Fifth Doctor companion Adric was something of a failed attempt at one of these. He appears as a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for K-9 and was a Teen Genius conceived to represent both the child demographic and the growing cult fandom, but was notoriously unpopular for various reasons.
- A weird instance where the Doctor was retooled into a Kid Appeal Character was the Seventh, who was written at first as a silly, bumbling, Fun Personified clownlike figure who did magic tricks and danced and made you laugh, because the executives were aiming for a much younger audience at the time. It didn't stick.
- Ringo Starr of The Beatles has often been seen this way. Completely unintentional, of course, but between the fact that he was the "funny" Beatle and the fact that his solos were all rather whimsical, sweet songs about things like octopus's gardens and The Power of Friendship (while his bandmates were singing about sex and drugs), it's an understandable interpretation.
- Emma Bunton is the youngest Spice Girl, since her nickname was Baby Spice. She's also weak but lovable.
- Chico De Barge.
- Rey Mysterio Jr isn't the youngest in WWE and isn't (too) obnoxious, but he fulfills every other requirement as the Ankle Biter subset. He's tiny, wildly popular with kids, frequently wears ridiculously bright clothes, and gets picked on by the bad guys a lot. He's even had several of the bigger faces in WWE (Dave Batista most noticeably) in a big brother role at one point or another.
- Rey plays directly to very little fans on his ring entrance. If there are kids on the sides next to the ramp during his entrance wearing merch masks, he'll walk right over and touch his forehead to theirs. One special kid will actually get Rey to take off his peel off part of his mask and put it on them, ala when Bret Hart used to take off his sunglasses and put them on a child in the front row.
- Hornswoggle's a recent example, fitting many of the same characteristics Mysterio does except he's much less competent, actually is either the youngest man on the roster or close to it, and is about a foot smaller than Mysterio is. And Mysterio's 5'3".
- Command Bolshoi of All Japan Wrestling, also known as Piko. She stands at only 125 cm has a mask with a clown nose but has a successful career as an ankle biter.
- John Cena's current Never Give Up character would fit this.
- Takua in the first years of BIONICLE. While the Toa were the main heroes - and the ones that actually got the action figures - Takua started out as the Featureless Protagonist of the first few video games (one before the Toa arrived, and the other as the Hero of Another Story). After the games he remained a major character and his character was developed as adventurous and loving to explore, but knowing to leave the real fights to the Toa. All this culminated in the Mask of Light movie, where he was the main character and became a Toa himself (renaming himself "Takanuva").
- Monster High tends to give short, pink, girly Draculaura a ton of screentime and merchandise as she's popular with kids. Howleen also fills this role as she's the Tagalong Kid, particularly in Fright On!. Each was also given her own TV special with a plot of "we have to save (Draculaura/Howleen) from (new character X)": Why Do Ghouls Fall In Love and 13 Wishes.
- On the other hand, they also have adult appeal characters (not that kind) in Ghoulia and Abbey, who were given lots more attention after Mattel noticed their popularity with the Periphery Demographic.
- Barbie gave us Skipper and Kelly.
- Imoen in Baldur's Gate. Nothing like as sexy as other female characters, Imoen is certainly the most innocent, and one of the best (and nicest) thieves you'll find. Pretty much a sister figure to the main character. And it turns out you're right, by the way.
- Tails from Sonic the Hedgehog is probably the first Kid Appeal character Sega made, featuring in just about every cartoon as Sonic's best friend. Later games feature him as the smart one, but he's always been perfectly capable of keeping up with Sonic (meanwhile, both of the animated series made him into more a weak but lovable sort, with the SaTAM version turning him into a nigh-useless prop for Sonic to rescue).
- Charmy came later, and was followed by Cream and Cheese.
- Pal-18 from Anachronox is a toy robot (though his owner has upgraded him with weapons and hacking systems) with a squeaky voice and a hip personality. You actually obtain his best weapon by letting him play in a playground for four hours (real time). Also, his theme color (relevant to the magic system) is yellow...
- Relm from Final Fantasy VI is an extremely sassy ten-year-old girl who, despite her grandfather's best efforts, keeps insisting on jumping into the fray. And she holds her own!
- The Scout is one of these that stopped trying to convince people that Team Fortress 2 is a family-friendly game. He's all the better for it.
- Sakura Kasugano from the Street Fighter Alpha series. She was always out to prove herself against older, better-trained, and often bigger fighters.
- Akari Ichijou in The Last Blade.
- The Power Instinct series had several of these. Kinta and Clara are the most prominent.
- Bao in The King of Fighters series.
- The Blues (ankle biters) from Angry Birds, so did Bubbles (clown) and Stella (weak but lovable).
- Many Pokémon qualify as this, but none more so than the series mascot, Pikachu. In fact, every generation releases an Expy based on it.
- Clefairy and Jigglypuff are also appealing to children (specifically girls), and like Pikachu, they've also received various expies based on them (Togepi, Skitty, Buneary, and Minccino to name a few).
- Many of the Fairy-Types as a whole, except for the ones that lean more towards the Fair Folk variety. To name a few would include Flabébé, Togepi, Spritzee, Swirlix, Mime Jr., the aforementioned Clefairy and Jigglypuff, etc.
- Baby Head from Captain Commando is a subversion to this.note
- Skate from Streets of Rage is between nine and twelve years old.
- El Stingray is the shortest wrestler in Saturday Night Slam Masters. He's 5'6''.
- The Super Mario Bros. series had plenty of those that fit in the trope, including the Toads and the Koopalings, both of which are groups of these.
- Slippy Toad from the Star Fox series. He is a type 4 mechanic.
- Marie Rose from Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate Arcade.