Minor Living Alone

Schoolday's over. Students prepare to leave... But not all of them go to meet friends, hang out with friends, a Love Interest or to a family. For various reasons, some live alone, younger than you'd expect. The most common cause for this trope is that their parents are dead or absent.

Children that live alone are sometimes rather mature for their age and may even have a job in order to support themselves. If they live with younger siblings, expect them to take on the role of Parental Substitute.

Related to Parental Abandonment. See also Emancipated Child, where the child divorces their parents and goes to live on their own, Department of Child Disservices where child protection services being crappy in general, including this trope as well as placing kids with bad foster families, and Social Services Does Not Exist which is about kids not being taken away from bad families.

Examples

Anime & Manga
  • Orihime Inoue from Bleach lives alone. She and her older brother Sora ran away from their Abusive Parents and he died in a car accident. Word of God is that she receives money from one of her aunts on the condition that she does well at school (which she does), although she gets a job in a local bakery after the Time Skip.
  • Haruka Nanase from Free lives alone in his late grandmother's house, although his best friend Makoto does live right down the street. The Nanase parents moved away for work, and his grandmother died sometime later.
  • Fruits Basket:
    • Although she has friends and family she could stay with if she wasn't too polite to ask, Tohru decides to try to live on her own after she's orphaned. In a tent. Fortunately, the Sohmas are persistent enough to get her to stay with them...although one could just as easily question the logic of moving in with three guys she barely knows. (Then again, Tohru is kind of a Black Sheep to her family save for her paternal grandfather, and when she does temporarily live with them, they treat her like crap until the Sohmas go fetch her.)
    • Around the time she's starting high school, Machi is kicked out of the house after a kind gesture is misconstrued as attempted murder.
    • Momiji was forced to leave his parents when he was about eight after his mentally unstable mother rejects him practically at birth, and by the time the series begins, he has a house of his own on the Sohma estate. There would have been plenty of servants around, and Hatori seems to look after him when he has the time, but he's very independent by the time he enters high school.
  • Kohina in Gugure! Kokkuri-san was this for a long time, until Kokkuri-san basically appointed himself as her guardian and moved in with her.
  • Subverted in Haruhi Suzumiya. Yuki Nagato looks to all appearances like a minor living alone, and that's even the cover story that Kyon tells Haruhi about Yuki's living situation, but in fact she’s actually an alien android, not a teenage girl, and therefore not really a minor at all.
  • In Kamisama ga Uso wo Tsuku, Rio, not yet in junior high, lives alone with her little brother. Their mother is deceased and their father is always on long trips for his work (or so she claims).
  • The title character of Kikis Delivery Service. Justified in-universe; young witches in Kiki's world are not just allowed but apparently expected to leave home and prove that they can live independently once they turn 13.
  • 10-year-old orphan Hayate Yagami lives alone in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, supported mainly by allowance sent by a distant relative. A justification is implied by the end of the season, though: said relative is actually The Man Behind the Man who pulled strings to make sure nobody missed Hayate after her planned death.
  • Kuroko no Basuke: Kagami lives alone, which is the reason for his surprisingly good cooking skills.
  • Midori no Hibi: Seiji lives alone, since his parents are said to be traveling abroad and his older sister, Rin, lives with her boyfriend. She drops by, every other month or so, to give him enough funds to cover food and expenses.
  • In Naruto:
    • The title character has lived alone his entire life. His only supervision comes from his academy instructor, Iruka (who doesn't go to his home) and the village chief, who stops by drop off money for the month's expenses.
    • After the slaughter of his entire clan, the deuteragonst Sasuke lives alone as well.
  • Justified in Onegai Twins, Mike was allowed to live alone thanks to a deal he made with his orphanage, which let's him work and live alone.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
    • Mami's parents died in an accident. As it turned out, she also had no relatives, and thus had no choice but to live on her own.
    • Homura, whose family is either nonexistent or estranged. However, her reasons for living alone also stem from the fact that she came to the conclusion that she can only work by herself after countless failed time loops.
    • Kyouko lives in her apartment complex alone with no parental supervision due to her father going nuts, then murdering her mother, younger sister, and then himself in a murder-suicide.
  • Ukyo Kuonji of Ranma ½ not only lives by herself, she runs her own business, all while still being in high school.
  • Makoto Kino from Sailor Moon lives alone because her parents are dead.
  • Rei Kuroki from Vividred Operation lives alone with her pet parakeet in her apartment complex because her parents died from an accident.
  • Unlike many examples of this trope, Umetarou Nozaki aka the title character from Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun lives alone for a relatively down-to-earth reason despite his parents being alive and not abroad. He managed to convince his parents to let him move out and into his own apartment after his early success as a mangaka earned him enough money to do so and showing them that he could continue to support himself.
  • Variable Geo: Satomi's parents died in an automobile accident years ago, leaving her to look after herself and her kid brother, Daisuke. Because of his medical expenses, she barely earns enough to support them, despite working two full-time jobs. Which is how The Jahana Group manipulates her into entering the VG tournament.
  • Justified in Kotoura-san. Haruka Kotoura (14 years old) had already suffered Parental Abandonment via her mother's I Have No Daughter. Plus, the general consensus is that any roommates would be bothered by her inadvertent Telepathy, especially during her Leave Me Alone phase. Zenzou, Haruka's unbelievably wealthy grandfather, pays for the apartment's rent.
  • Fuu and Itsuki from Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de aru are orphans who live alone. Despite both being middle schoolers Fuu is considered her little sisters legal guardian.
    • Karin lives alone as well but it's unknown what happened to her parents.
  • Deconstructed in Tora Dora, through Taiga Aisaka's story. Typical examples of this trope have children acting like perfect miniature adults who expertly cook, clean house, do laundry, pay bills, and sometimes even hold jobs; Taiga lives alone because she can’t get along with anyone in her family, but her parents never taught her any domestic skills before they (effectively) threw her out of the house, and they don't bother checking up on her once she’s gone. Until she meets Ryuuji, she’s living in filth and squalor, subsisting on a diet of convenience store food and suffering from chronic allergies due to her terrible living conditions. And she's never held a job either. The series emphasizes the fact that even though she’s technically living on her own, she’s actually completely dependent on Ryuuji’s care and the monthly cash deposits she gets from her father. Part of her character growth arc involves her learning to acknowledge that she can't do everything on her own and start to address the issues that led to her isolation in the first place; this leads her to return to her family home so she can rekindle her relationship with them and, through this, become a better person before she and Ryuuji can start out a new life together.
  • Shinichi Kudo from Detective Conan used to do this, living in the Kudo family's Big Fancy House and taking care of it since his parents live in the USA. After he's shrunk, however, under the Conan Edogawa he goes live with his would-be girlfriend and her Private Defective father.
  • Ryou of Koufuku Graffiti is this, through a combination of Parental Abandonment and the death of her grandma who took after her for the past few years. It gets more exaggerated after Chapter 17 when Kirin moves in, making it a case of two minors living alone.

Comic Books
  • Runaways is about well, Runaways, the youngest being eleven at the start of the series and the oldest starting at seventeen, that have superpowers and live alone after running away from their super villain parents and then again from child protective services that wanted to keep them apart (and put their dinosaur in storage...It Makes Sense in Context).
  • Billy Batson in Shazam, usually. (In the 90s he was eventually adopted by the Bromfields, in other versions he stays in an orphanage, or with Uncle Dudley, and in the most recent version he has a foster family.)

Fan Works
  • In the Ranma ½ Elsewhere Fic Boy Scouts ½, there is a character named Kenneth Pendrell. He is the youngest of the main characters, most of whom are also minors. Almost all of them have had family, including parents, appearing in story or at least referenced as existing. There are even a pair of characters who are established as orphaned minors living with an adult over sister. But in the case of Kenny, the narrative seems to go out of its way to avoid even mentioning any family for him, even when the story has scenes which take place in house which is described as having an "un-lived-in" feel to it. (Kenny himself likely lives in his massive underground laboratory beneath the house.)

Film
  • In Angel 15-year-old Angel lives alone and is a schoolgirl by day, hooker by night.
  • In The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane the eponymous Little Girl is living alone in a big house after her terminally ill father committed suicide and she killed her estranged/abusive mother who had come to take her back.
  • In the novel and Film of the Book Hugo, the titular 12 year old character is living alone in a train station after he was orphaned and his uncle abandoned him.

Literature
  • This is the state of affairs for the eponymous character in the second Jack Blank book, and he's only thirteen years old. However, Jack lives in the Imagine Nation, which is a fictional country that functions as a safe haven for superhero fantasy, so the laws may be different there. Even so, 13 is still quite young for someone to be living alone.
  • Pippi Longstocking lives alone with a horse and a monkey. Her father is king of a southern island, and her mother is in heaven. At times, the adults in the town wants to help or assist her, but she prefers to take care of herself most of the time.

Newspaper comics
  • In The Perishers, Wellington lives alone in a squat with his dog, even managing to go to school with the other kids. Before moving into the squat, he and Boot lived in a section of concrete sewer pipe that had been left lying around in a closed builder's yard.

Video Games
  • In The Sims:
    • In original Sims if a parent died a child would live alone...but couldn't pay bills, cook meals. They could live off of snacks in the fridge food from the buy menu, and make some money through grades and painting however.
    • Almost Averted in The Sims 2 where the social worker would pick up orphaned kids. Orphaned teens however, could live alone and could at least pay bills and cook, unlike kids. They could also get part-time jobs, which don't pay well but at least give the household a steady cash flow. (It's also possible for a teen to sell most of the crafts that adults can, such as paintings, but this requires a lot of time and/or skill points.)
      • The Sims 2 had a pre-made family of two teens caring for their younger siblings. They were quite hard to play well, and a good source of Video Game Caring Potential.
    • The Sims 3 continues the " orphaned teenager can live alone" trend. They can also register as self employed with the Ambitions expansion pack, almost eliminating the need for parents.

Webcomics
  • Homestuck: Roxy and Dirk (age 16) each live alone, due to being the last two humans alive.
  • In Red String, Makoto lives in an apartment that his parents pay for in a different city. He insisted on the arrangement so he could apprentice under a chef and go to school with the girl he was arranged to marry.

Western Animation
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: For the first three seasons, The Chipettes lived in a fully furnished tree house, with a living room, a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom, however, in the Season Four opener, school officials find out about this, and threaten to split them up and put them in foster care; Dave temporarily adopts them, however they and The Chipmunks start getting on each other's nerves, so Alvin talks his neighbor Beatrice Miller into adopting them in one episode. From then on, the girls live with her and soon consider her as their mother figure.
  • Hey Arnold!: Played with: Gerald is fed up with his family not giving him enough space, and moves into an empty room in Arnold's home, which doubles as a boarding house to live by himself. He only wanted attention for leaving though, but his parents and Arnold's Grandpa agree to let him stay until he decides to come back on his own. He moves back by the end of the episode.
  • Recess: Played with in "Bachelor Gus", in which Gus overhears what he thinks is his parents talking about moving away (again), and not wanting to move again, let alone leave his friends at Third Street School, he runs away, and turns the jungle gym into his own bachelor pad. He likes it at first, but is scared by nightfall, and when his parents find him, he learns that they were talking about moving him into the bigger bedroom, not moving away altogether.
  • All of the Teen Titans live without parental supervision in their island headquarters and they fight crime. It makes you wonder if maybe their city lacks a child services department.

Real Life
  • This actually does happen in Japan, due to the fact that high schools are not region based. They're more like American colleges, and as such, some students' parents rent them apartments so they can go to school they attend without waking up really early or the whole family having to move.