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. If a color is associated with the character, then that color would be, 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.
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. 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.
As far a human characters are concerned, there's Max, the younger brother of May. He is too young to train his own Pokémon, but he travels along with the rest of the cast because he loves Pokémon that much. Pokémon X and Y introduces Bonnie, the younger sister of Clemont, who fulfills a similar role.
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.
Gaara is a rather interesting case; being a formerAx-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:
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.
The comic 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).
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.)
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.
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 Baystates, 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.
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 Detention Kids from The Book Of Life. Trouble-making rascals who get invested in the story.
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:
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.
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 veryveryscrewedup.
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.
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 Though the former two demoted the role when they respectively become Tranza and Kaiser Buldont later in their respective series, while the latter has suffered a Heel-Face Turn to become a straighter good-guy example of the trope
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
El idolo de los Nińos, better known as Atlantis in CMLL, Michinoku Pro and Toryumon. Notably he wasn't been cheered by older fans for awhile into his career, being a text book rudo. But the kids still loved him. For a further bit of irony, he's never been the youngest man on any roster.
Tiny Tammy Jones, The Superheroes Thunderbolt & Lightning and every Farmer's Daughter in GLOW.
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. Compared to his uncle, the original Rey Misterio, you could say he's always been this.
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.
Jeff Hardy, being a brightly colored high flier who paints himself. Unfortunately, WWE decided to focus on his legal and substance abuse troubles, and positively contrast him against straight edge wrestler CM Punk.
Pro Wrestling NOAH did this with Taiji Ishimori, giving him lots of shiny, bright colors set of ring gear and lots of lucha libre inspired moves, including Rey Mysterio's 619. It helps that he's only 163 CM.
John Cena's Never Give Up not even really a gimmick would fit this. The only people it really appeals to besides kids are women. Randy Orton accidentally added fuel to this fire by suggesting only women and kids cheered Cena.
Bobby Lashley was molded into one after being called from OVW to WWE, with the camera routinely zooming in on a father and his child chanting "Lashley, Lashley" whenever he made an entrance.
Hornswoggle became an example after his presence failed to make Finley hated, fitting many of the same characteristics Mysterio does except he's much less competent, 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".
The Buddy System of SHIMMER\SHINE, with Marti Belle sarcastically crediting the tag team's existence to everyone being twelve.
Bayley behaves the way one would expect a younger fan to on NXT, and to drive the point home she has been bound.
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.
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 intoa 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 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.
Bumblebee from Transformers was the original Trope Namer. Down to originally transforming into a Volkswagen. Every single version of him - ever - is a kid-appeal character. They even partnered him with the human kid on the show.
After the animated movie, the kid appeal role was taken on by Wheelie for the third series of Generation 1 (which paired him with the son of Bumblebee's partner, though not quite as often) and all of Transformers Headmasters, who was much more type 1.
This role was then taken over by Holi in Transformers Victory, who was blue but otherwise a combination of all this trope's aspects.
Cheetor from Beast Wars is also yellow, fast and the youngest one on the Maximal Team. And if that weren't enough to tell that he's the kid of the team, he's got freckles. Unlike Bumblebee however, he is actually quite a competent warrior and later becameThe Lancer to Optimus Primal. In Beast Machines, he's replaced in this role by Nightscream
Wedge, from Robots in Disguise, is small, orange and gutsy, but where the typical Bumblebee-type in Transformers is fast, Wedge's assets are strength and engineering know-how. (that, and being the leader of a team that forms a Combining Mecha.)
This is all parodied in the Botcon script reading"Bee in the City," where Bumblebee from Animated is identified as the kid-appeal character and is asked if he's a Bumblebee or a Hot Shot (also referencing how he was originally supposed to be a new Hot Shot). Over the course of the program various characters also called him Wheelie, Side Burn, Cheetor, and even T-Bob, much to his annoyance.
In Transformers Prime, Bumblebee became the Ankle Biter, in accordance with the show's more serious tones, being based more on his film counterpart. But he's still paired with the youngest of the human characters. Smokescreen is more of a Type 2.
Flash from Justice League. Though he's also quite popular with the older fanbase.
The original pitch had a modified Young Justice consisting of Robin, Impulse and a Gender Swapped version of Cyborg acting as sidekicks to the League. This was when the show was being pitched to Kids' WB!, and the writers thought the execs would pass on the series unless it had kid superheroes for the audience to identify with.
Robin is the youngest of the team and serves as a bit of a Type 4.
By season two, however, the roles have changed. Robin I is now Nightwing, the more serious and level-headed leader of the team, and Wally has retired and takes a far more cynical view of all this crime-fighting. The Kid Appeal character is probably Beast Boy, but even he still has the tragic history his character always carries.
Scrappy-Doo from Scooby-Doo was a famously unpopular one of the Ankle-Biter variety (though he was surprisingly strong for his size, edging towards Cute Bruiser territory).note "Unpopular" is relative, of course. We know you, like all right-thinking people, hate Scrappy, but he was actually quite popular with the demographic they were looking for, and at least one of the writers credits Scrappy with saving the show from cancellation. Aesthetes may sniff and note that cancellation would have been better than Scrappyization, but the people whose paychecks were on the line felt otherwise. That said, when he isn't around it's usually Shaggy and Scooby himself who get into silly antics in the midst of monster-hunting.
Jade from Jackie Chan Adventures is a type 3. She's not powerful enough to be a solo hero and regularly ends up getting into trouble, but she's adventurous and determined and usually finds a way to be useful.
Beast Boy from Teen Titans is a clown type. He's always trying to be funny and is clearly the least mature, and he usually seems to be the weakest fighter on the team.
Richie Foley in Static Shock. He replaces Frieda Goren as Static's best friend because the show was geared towards a younger audience than the comics were. He's the second definition of Kid Appeal Character. He was also given superpowers because the writers were having a hard time keeping him in the episodes, but often his attempts at defeating the enemy don't work. He's been kidnapped at least four times and he's been turned into a mind slave twice.
Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers goes much, much further. Due to a mishap most known Marvel heroes and villains are essentially turned into summonable Mons, so you've got a group of kids as the show's leads and in many ways the Avengers are their sidekicks.
And the first member introduced to the viewers, Apple Bloom? Yellow coat.
The CMC were originally meant to have their own spinoff targeted at even younger girls, but Hasbro rejected the idea, so their characters weren't fleshed out until later episodes.
Pinkie Pie also has an above-average amount of kid appeal (she's basically The Hub's mascot at this point), though the show often uses her as a means to take shots at the mentality underlying many uses of this trope (for example, "The Piggy Dance," which parodies the overly simplistic and repetitive nature of many children-directed songs, and seals the deal by causing the infant Cake twins to cry in response to it).
Spike appears to be this for younger males who may watch the show. He's a little boy, that's a dragon, that gets to go on adventures with older girls all day.
Gus Griswald from Recess, the small, cute Sixth Ranger to the main group of kids, and is weak and cowardly, but warmhearted and lovable. While not as obnoxious as most examples, he's still a Base Breaker among the fandom.
Nibbles (or Tuffy depending on the short), the little gray mouse Jerry adopts in some shorts, filled this role in Tom and Jerry, though the series itself was originally meant to appeal to a more general audience.
Jay in Ninjago is the least serious character on the team and makes constant jokes and seems a bit younger then the others.
Parodied in the Pixar ShortMr. Incredible and Pals (presented as a Show Within a Show in The Incredibles universe), where Mr. Incredible and Frozone are joined by the bunny Mr. Skipperdoo. When the "real" Mr. Incredible and Frozone watch it, neither one is impressed, to say the least.
Mr. Incredible: The rabbit is cuddly! Kids like little cuddly sidekicks! I mean, the rabbit... it's a time-tested... okay, the rabbit bites.