Deandra: This girl actually reminds me a lot of myself when I was two.
Mackenzie Zales: ...She's seven.You turn on the TV and start watching it. Apparently, some child actor is guest starring. But wait a minute. How old is his character? He says he's X, but he's acting like X minus 5. What kind of 14 year old gets real excited over a balloon? 13 year olds don't watch Nick Jr., hello! Lastly, why are a lot of older teenagers buying trivial trading cards? To put it simply, that character is a Kiddie Kid. Basically what happens when Most Writers Are Adults is applied, but instead of the writers writing about issues relevant to them, try to guess what kids act like and hit below the target age. On other occasions, writers may have a kid of the appropriate age in mind, but the director winds up casting a child in the role who's much older than intended (this is especially prone to happening in adaptations). This may also happen when a show featuring teenagers is being marketed to younger kids, so they make the teenagers act like the target audience. This can be a little Truth in Television for some, since not everybody acts as mature or shares the same interests as others. In most cases, the kid in question has not had a conventional upbringing (i.e. they're orphans, home-schooled etc.), which causes them to have a naive outlook. Can be a side-effect of Competence Zone. Contrast Wise Beyond Their Years. Related to Menace Decay. When it's an adult behaving younger than their stated age, it's Manchild and/or One of the Kids.
—The Most Popular Girls in School, "A Very Deandra Thanksgiving"
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- One Dora the Explorer commercial had a elementary-school-aged girl who was obsessed with and kept talking about the show, which was supposed to be for preschoolers.
Anime and Manga
- The titular character from Naruto is a strange case. In Part 1, he is just a little bit immature, but not enough to qualify for Kiddie Kid. Thing is, all of his peers are affected by Most Writers Are Adults, so the difference in maturity by his peers qualifies him for this trope. In Part 2, he grows up and acts his age, though. The in-universe explanation is that he's acting out for attention, which may explain his lack of maturity.
- One Piece:
- Tony Chopper may count. He's 15, and only a couple years younger than Luffy, but he can also be very cowardly and is extremely gullible. Some people on the crew, like Zoro, defend him like a child caught in a battlefield when the situation calls for it. Slightly averted by the fact he really is competent on the battlefield, but his younger instincts get in the way. Part of it might have to do with that he was 8 years old when he ate the Human-Human fruit granting him his human-like capabilities. Usopp counts as well, he's 17 but hangs out with a group of 8 year olds and plays with them all the time.
- Luffy himself is 17, now 19, years old and he certainly doesn't act like a teenager that age. He has the curiosity, love of adventures and new experiences, simple-minded logic, naivety and Brutal Honesty typical of a much younger child. Only in very rare situations when he gets pissed off or serious enough, he may show some leadership skills and actually act more mature than your average teenager. His childishness is complimented by how he looks like he has barely reached puberty yet...
- Nana and Narumi from Kimikiss Pure Rouge are 16, but they look and act half their age. In one episode, they are shown to care about romantic love by having their ubiquitous plush frogs marry.
- Aoko from Magic Kaito is 16-17, but is noted to act like a little girl sometimes and her speech patterns are quite child-like. It seems to come from her lack of self-esteem, however.
- The titular Detective Conan, as a high-schooler trapped in a child's body, also acts rather immature from time to time, to the point where his child-age friends call him out on it.
- Zigzagged with Wendy (12 years old) in Fairy Tail. She is quite intelligent and regularly acts just as mature/like an Only Sane Man to the other protagonists which are 5-7 years older than her. But she seems to have a love for stuffed animals and toys that most 12-year-olds have outgrown. She has a rabbit backpack, has her room filled with teddy bears, and in one of the OVA's, she eagerly carries around a doll and wails like an infant when it is destroyed. She also sometimes shows Cheerful Child traits.
- Yuki from School-Live! is a high schooler but seems far younger. She wears a kitty-themed Nice Hat, has a backpack with angel wings on it, and is an All-Loving Hero. This is also reflected with her pink hair. Yuki acts so young that she's a Replacement Goldfish for Rii's sister, who is an grade schooler. Of course, this may just be one way she avoids the trauma of accepting that she's living in a zombie-infested hellhole. This trope is also deconstructed as prior to the story Yuki had no friends because the other girls thought she was weird.
- Son Goku from Dragon Ball looks like an 8-year-old well into his mid-teens and has the wisdom of a child even younger than that.
- Lampshaded in regards to Arale from Dr. Slump. Her creator intended her to be 13, but several characters have pointed out that she doesn't look or act like a teenager.
- Lampshaded in Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! with Yumoto. He is 15, but generally acts much younger than that. When one Monster of the Week turns him and his friends (who do act more like actual teenagers) into elementary school children, the other boys point out that Yumoto didn't change at all.
- Most girls in Lucky Star are in their late teens, but look like kidsnote and are known to talk about things that mostly grade school kids talk about (such as how to eat certain foods or what kinds of animals they'd be). Tsukasa is innocent, keeps a whole bunch of stuffed animals in her room, and mentions wearing character-print underwear. Konata and Yutaka actually look like kids even in-show, and Yutaka thinks like an eight-year-old (her very first line is "Upsy-daisy"). And then there's Misao and her antics, such as making "pocky" by filling a straw halfway with chocolate milk.
- The main characters in K-On! are all high school girls (and they even graduate by the series' end, then go to college in a spin-off), and yet act more like 8 or 11-year-olds than most middle schoolers, yet alone high schoolers. Even Mio, the supposedly "mature" one, acts more like a very-slightly-more mature 12-year-old than anything.
- Molly from Runaways acts younger than her true age, intentionally, because it gets her attention, and because it makes her feel loved. Also it gets adults to underestimate her. Which is useful, because if the emphasis is on the "cute" in Cute Bruiser than people aren't expecting it when the cute little girl tosses them across the block. Just ask Wolverine.
- This is intentionally done with Jughead from Archie Comics. He's rather immature for a teenager his age. He even mentioned in the 40s radio show he was fond of Howdy Doody, which was aimed at kids almost ten years his junior. His immaturity was originally shown off by his hat - in the early 20th century young boys would often cut up their father's old fedoras - however the fact has been lost by audiences over the years. Many think it's similar to a Burger King crown though, which has a similar effect.
- Foxtrot: While he never uses the term "cooties", Jason (a 10-year-old TV Genius) is terrified of girls getting mushy with him. Occasionally lampshaded by his usual target and Sitcom Arch-Nemesis Eileen whenever he's planning a stupid prank worthy of Calvin.
- Fred: The Movie ages the titular 6-year-old Cloudcuckoolander to a teenager, but he acts the exact same as in the web series.
- In Jack (1996) Robin Williams plays a 10 year old kid with a disorder that makes him age at 4x the rate. He, however acts like he's five, in part because he was sheltered and homeschooled until fifth grade.
- Most children in the 2009 Astro Boy movie act a few years younger than their stated ages.
- Robin in Batman Forever. The part was written for someone much younger than Chris O'Donnell, leading to jarring moments, such as Alfred convincing an obvious twenty-something to stay with Batman / Bruce Wayne by bribing him with a cheeseburger.
- Susie in Too Much: The Robot With a Heart appears to be around 10 or 11, but acts very immature and childish for her age. The main plot is kicked off by her running away from home to be with her robot, who is now her best friend.
- Possibly why Denny from The Room acts so weird—he appears to be in his late teens or very early twenties, and was played by a 26-year-old, but acts like a (strange) little kid who's just on the cusp of puberty and doesn't quite know how to handle it.
- In The Major and the Minor Ginger Rogers must pretend to be 12, which she does by acting like she's 6.
- In The Film of the Book Tom's Midnight Garden, Tom becomes this. While the book doesn't specify any age, it's pretty clear that he's a little boy. However, in the film, he is very obviously a young teen, and the actor who plays him, Anthony Way, is fourteen at the time of filming. Consequently, Tom's games in the garden with Hatty, while age-appropriate for the little boy depicted in the book, come across as rather childish for the young teenager we see in the movie.
- Played tragically in Logan. Eleven year old Laura acts more like a child several years her junior due to her poor upbringing.
- In the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series, Georgia's younger sister Libby could qualify as this as she does not age along with Georgia though she should be about six by the end of the series. She still isn't toilet-trained, speaks only in toddler-gibberish, still uses a pushchair and her social skills only extend to shouting embarassing things at passersby and cheerfully torturing her male "fwends" at nursery school with make-up and garden implements.
- Subverted (yes, an actual Subverted Trope) in the Harry Potter books. In the earlier books, Ginny Weasley was only one year younger than the Trio, but was treated and described as though she were several years younger. In later books, it's made clear that she had always had a stronger personality and was more shy due to both her child-like crush on Harry and being the Weasley family's only daughter among several boys, so she starts acting more outspoken as time passes. You can debate all day whether this was a Retcon or planned all along, but either way the subversion is there.
- In the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, Greg's friend Rowley is one of these — although he's in his early teens, he prefers to hang out with six-to-eight-year-olds, including holding a birthday party at the local Suck E. Cheese's and having several kids from karate class for a sleepover.
- In Tom's Midnight Garden, Hatty is one of these at one point. When she falls out of a tree, her aunt remarks that she shouldn't even be climbing trees at her age. Justified as Hatty is socially isolated, being ignored (at best) by her relatives, with her only friend being a time-traveling little boy.
- An Agatha Christie uses this as a plot point: a teenager who gets really excited about showing a magic trick involving hiding a diamond to win a bet ends up really losing the diamond. It turns out she's part of a gang of jewel thieves, using her Older Than She Looks appearance to appear truly innocent. The detective who solves the case sums it up by saying "Children aren't that childish."
Live Action TV
- Played with in Good Luck Charlie with P.J. as a fan The Gurgles, a singing group for toddlers and TV show of the same name.
- In the Hannah Montana TV series, Hannah's demographics are far more spread out than her real audience of young tween girls. This means older teenage boys would be obsessing over the Disney star on some episodes.
- When they're not interested in romance, the Big Time Rush band can be rather goofy.
- Screech from Saved by the Bell. He is the character with the least character developmentnote , and the goofiest to boot. It doesn't help that his actor is a few years younger than his costars, yet his character is the same age on the show.
- Scott from Hip Hop Harry the actor portraying him is a teenager but he acts very childish, he doesn't know how to cross the street by himself, he doesn't know what a lot of things are, and he thinks it's a good idea to feed hot dogs and ice cream to a hamster.
- Sometimes, when children's shows want to portray Audience Surrogates who can do more complicated things than their target audience can, like perform intense choreography or explain what it's like to live with a disability, they'll bring in an older kid who tends to fill this role. While Sesame Street and Barney & Friends have each done this a couple of times, Kiddie Kid moments happen fairly frequently on Hip Hop Harry, because the child actors on that show are hip-hop dancers who are all at least nine years old, and they're playing to preschoolers.
- Reese from Malcolm in the Middle, in the later seasons, especially with regards to school and authority figures in general. Despite being over a year older than Malcolm, in many contexts he seems like Malcolm's several-years-younger brother.
- Ben from Friends, Ross' son from a prior marriage. The more he showed up in later seasons the more "the same age" he remained, despite the actor playing him was obviously getting close to being 12 rather than actually believing in Santa Claus. He was all but forgotten after Emma was born, and only received mentions in passing.
- Doctor Who had characters like this in the early years:
- Susan in Doctor Who suffered from this in some stories, such as getting far too excited about going paddling in the sea and getting a new dress in "The Keys of Marinus" and her general childish reactions in "The Daleks" (displaying disproportionate screaming, rolling-around-on-the-ground terror when the Daleks allow her to return to the TARDIS through a spooky-looking nuclear wasteland containing no living things and confirmed to be safe, and giggling uncontrollably at the Daleks's funny voices). Part of the reason her actress Carol Ann Ford left the role so early was because she was frustrated with her character being written this way, although it can be Justified by the fact that Susan isn't human, and is from a species that is considered a kid until they're hundreds. Her replacement companion, Vicki was written convincingly like a clever fourteen-year-old.
- This was sometimes done intentionally in serials aimed at younger audiences in order to allow older characters to serve as Audience Surrogate characters. For instance, Steven (in his early 20s) and Dodo (a teenager) both act quite childish in "The Celestial Toymaker", doing things like laughing at clowns making the other jump, and getting cross with a creepy schoolboy character for cheating, being rude and not sharing sweets. It's a sharp contrast to their behaviour in "The Ark" and "The Savages", science fiction stories aimed at older children and teenagers, where they act their ages.
- In Heavy Rain, Jason and to a lesser extent, Shaun, are incredibly stupid for their age. Near the beginning of the game, Jason, age 10, is alone with Ethan in the mall. Ethan immediately tells him not to wander off, only for him to ignore his father, wander around in a jam-packed mall, and leave the place to watch TV at a nearby store. When Ethan finally sees him across the street, Jason RUNS WITHOUT LOOKING FOR CARS AND GETS HIT AND KILLED. Two years later, when Shaun is the same age, one level is basically Ethan taking care of Shaun on a typical school afternoon. All he does ALL DAY is watch cartoons on TV with the same bored expression on his face. This includes Ethan making him a snack when at his age he could just look for something himself, sending him to bed at 8PM at the age where boys go to sleep between 9PM-10PM, and asking for his precious teddy bear. Shaun's case is a little Truth in Television since he comes from a broken family and coping with his brother's death, Shaun could complain to his mom and Ethan would lose custody if he didn't give as much care as Shaun expected, but he isn't completely excused.
- Fire Emblem:
- In the original FE1 and FE3, Marth is rather naive and acts decidedly childishly, despite being 16 in the former and 19 in the latter. This was changed in the first game's remake, in which he acted Wise Beyond His Years, before the third game's remake reverted to his original personality, albeit somewhat toned down.
- In the Japanese version of Fire Emblem Awakening, Nowi the Manakete, who looks about 11 or 12, acts like she's about 9 or younger, complete with Third-Person Person dialogue, in contrast with her daughter Nah who looks like she is barely 8 and acts at least twice that. The English version changes this somewhat, where she has Hidden Depths and is more mature than she lets on.
- From the same game, Chrom's little sister Lissa is 16, still afraid of a multitude of things, talks and acts childishly, has a high-pitched voice, and is a prankster. Depending on which ages the official profiles are using, she can be 18 post-Time Skip.
- Bowser Jr. from the Super Mario Bros. franchise doesn't have his age stated, but he appears to be somewhere around eight to ten years old. In his early appearances in spin off games like Mario Kart and Mario Golf, he would throw a tantrum and cry loudly as if he was four years old. Baby Mario and Baby Luigi, both being younger than Bowser Jr., don't cry as loud if they lose a game and they mostly show distress instead, while Diddy Kong, who appears to be about the same age as Junior, rarely cries loudly and usually just shows disappointment. Junior's Sore Loser attitude was toned down in later games where he now expresses anger and frustration when losing a game.
- Nina Delacroix from Eerie Cuties is 14, but for most of the strip she looks and acts like as if she was half of that age. Justified in that her development has been deliberately stunted to prevent her from manifesting the reincarnated spirit of an ancient and deadly vampire queen.
- The Nostalgia Critic admits to being bullied at school for acting younger than his age. This serves as foreshadowing, as later he realizes from a bad phone call to a director that he's not acting like a normal twenty eight year old man should.
- The Most Popular Girls in School: Katelynn Zales is seven, but she acts like she's two. The quote regarding that matter is at the top of this page.
- Chris from Family Guy, Depending on the Writer. Some episodes will have Chris behave like a normal teenager, which has become more common in recent seasons, and others will make him easily entertained and somewhat shallow minded, as well as playing childish tricks anybody his age could see through, at age 15. Since his father is a Manchild, and since he is very similar to him, it may run in the family.
- Jimmy Two-Shoes is a teenager, yet he's very excitable, gullible, and childish and seeks for fun wherever he goes.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? More like Tweenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This is talking about the older Saturday morning cartoon, not the 4kids version, where they do grow up a bit. It actually kinda depends on the writer; some episodes they act like grown men.
- Mikey in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) is this, especially compared to his brothers. "Journey to the Center of Mikey's Mind" shows that Mikey is a little kid in his mind and still has yet to mature, despite being a teenager, which is why he can charm Leatherhead and why he never thinks ahead and refuses to take blame (see "Mikey Gets Shellacne").
- Something is not right with Cleveland Jr. from The Cleveland Show. Sure, most people just view him as an optimistic nerd, but he also can't let go of some childhood memories. He still plays with his "Larry the Leopard" stuffed animal, and acts as though it's a real person, he often gets easily tricked by Rallo, who is 5 YEARS OLD, and he wants his dad to kiss him goodnight. This is explicitly stated as weird in-universe, and others his age typically avert this trope unless it's funny.
- Butters from South Park can be seen as one, especially since the other children are as mature, if not more so than an average adult in the town. Supported by the fact that while most other kids are based on how they act when an adult isn't near, Butters lives up to the false stereotype that all kids are "little angels." Despite being the Kiddie Kid of the school, he's probably the most sexually curious and mature of the characters besides Kenny (and he has already hit puberty). Butters also does Take A Level In Cynic during the last couple seasons of the show.
- Bobby Hill of the later episodes of King of the Hill. Even though he is supposed to 14 years old, he occasionally acts very childish. This is mainly a case of Depending on the Writer; in some episodes he is fairly intelligent and mature and in others he is incredibly whiny, foolish, and immature. The 13th season has some of the worst offenders, with episodes like Master of Puppets and Reborn on the Fourth of July.
- Kim Possible: Ron Stoppable tends to dip into this territory. A prime example would be the "Coach Possible" episode where, unlike most high schoolers, he doesn't mind hanging out at the local Suck E. Cheese's and is horrified when the villains steal, then redress his favorite animatronic. "PIZZAPOTAMUS!!! NOOO!!!"
- Dexter's Laboratory: Dee Dee, who is elder to her titular brother, is implied to be a sixth grader. This would put her actual age somewhere between ten and twelve. However, she tends to behave as if she were younger than Dexter.
- Macie turns into one in the As Told by Ginger episode "Family Therapy" after her parents start treating her like a four-year-old after forgetting her birthday. She starts to enjoy playing on a Rocket Tykes Swingset and a My First Jungle Gym, going to the local Suck E. Cheese's, has her thirteenth birthday party at a petting zoo (with kiddie-style decorations), and even starts dressing more like a four-year-old. Ginger notes that Macie is liable to get bullied if this continues. Macie snaps out of it after Ginger convinces her with her birthday present - a shirt that says "I'm a teenager, that's my problem".
- Gene Belcher from Bob's Burgers, combined with Cloud Cuckoolander.
- Steve Smith from American Dad! is a Depending on the Writer version of this. While most of the time he acts like your stereotypical Hormone-Addled Teenager, some episodes give him childish mannerisms and interests such as toys and playing pretend. This could be justified by the fact that the show lacks a reoccurring "kid" character.
- Cubert from Futurama is a 12-13 year old who looks and acts like he's around 9. A plot point of one episode was about how he felt the need to imitate everything he saw on his favourite TV show, even if it didn't make sense.
- Almost every member of the Kids Next Door is an exaggerated stereotype of children, even the nine to twelve year old ones who should be more mature. They all love soda pop, hate vegetables, and act rather innocent.
- The Sonic SatAM version of Tails is intended to be ten years old, which would make him older than his game counterpart (who is stated to be eight). However, he acts as if he were junior to his game counterpart. Tails is not allowed to be a Freedom Fighter for his own safety, which closely matches the way adults would realistically treat a ten year old. This still does not explain his immature personality.
- Steven from Steven Universe has a Vague Age for the first season and a half, but in "Steven's Birthday" is revealed to be turning fourteen. His Muggle Best Friend and Love Interest (who's not even thirteen but is more mature) is shocked. Aside from the fact that he still sleeps with a teddy bear and generally acts like he's under eleven, Steven also looks quite younger, which may or may not because his mother was The Ageless. Gems live on a more geologic time scale, so their physical form reflects their emotional maturity, and since Steven is half-Gem, this applies to him as well. His dad shows Connie a scrapbook showing that Steven hasn't aged since age 8.
- Max from Max and Ruby is 3 and speaks in one word sentences. As a 4-year-old he speaks in complete sentences but not in fluent English. He is the only kid in his class who can't speak in fluent English.
- Harold from Hey Arnold! is arguably one of the most immature characters in Mr. Simmons' 4th grade class as he often cries and has been shown playing with a Barney Expy doll on multiple occasions, and yet he's four years older than the rest of his class...
- Ralph Wiggum from The Simpsons is this combined with Cloud Cuckoo Lander and Ambiguous Disorder.
- The Loud House: 11-year old Lincoln Loud mostly acts his age, but he still has a stuffed rabbit named Bun-Bun which he cares for with an affection most kids his age have outgrown. His friend Clyde also has shades of this since he is shown to be a fan of Blarney the Dinosaur, which is meant for a much younger age demographic.
- Preteens and young teenagers mature at different rates, and there is only a loose correlation between physical, mental and emotional maturity. Individual tweens frequently fluctuate up and down the sliding scale of maturity on a daily, if not hourly, basis, as any parent can tell you. This is why they are usually segregated into middle or "junior high" schools during this transitional period.