Typically, a main or recurring character who regularly interacts with characters noticeably younger, usually resulting in their maturity level regressing to roughly the same level (if not even lower). They're still capable of acting their age... they just usually don't.
This character shows up most often in anything aimed at younger audiences, where they are Played Straight
so as to be more appealing to kids. When Played for Laughs
, it's to show an immature or silly character.
See also Wise Beyond Their Years
. The difference between this situation and Wise Beyond Their Years
is that One of the Kids
is rarely treated as any kind of authority; because of their casualness they often do not even earn special respect.
When examples of this trope show up in shows where they are above the Competence Zone
of the rest of the cast, they tend to be teachers, which often yields Sensei-chan
Related to, but not to be confused with, Man Child
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Anime And Manga
- Yukari Tanizaki from Azumanga Daioh could be considered to embody this trope, although she is still treated by her students with respect due to being a teacher (by everyone except Tomo). A respect she abuses without shame.
- Adults in Lucky Star are often this, to the annoyance of Konata.
- Her homeroom teacher Nanako Kuroi is envious about students needing to wear uniforms, as she found choosing clothes a chore. And one time, she decided the game when her favorite baseball team lost did not exist at all. Due to being single, she also spends a lot of her free time on MMORPGs, where she frequently interacts with her student Konata; though unlike the latter, Nanako is wise enough not to sacrifice working time for playing time.
- Her cousin Yui Narumi is a traffic cop who Drives Like Crazy, is very cheerful and energetic. Despite being a young woman, she can also be immature, especially compared to her teenage sister and cousin, who she often visits.
- Ranma ½ gives us Hinako Ninomiya, the English teacher that is in her late twenties, looks around twelve, and behaves like a six/seven year old would. Although she only acts in her child form. In her adult form she's usually all business, unless she stays in it for too long.
- Yotsuba&! has Yanda, who during his first meeting with Yotsuba proves that he's just as immature as she is, and big guy Jumbo, who starts a one-sided competition with ten-year-old Miura over visiting Hawaii. Yotsuba's father sometimes acts like a teenage boy with Jumbo, but that may just be because they're childhood friends with a lot of history together.
- Perhaps best exemplified in chapter 53 when Koiwai leaves Yotsuba alone with Jumbo to house sit while he's away. Yanda ends up stopping by to mooch some hot water and by the time Koiwai comes back the three of them are having a water balloon fight inside the house.
- Kasugano-sensei from Sketchbook acts very childish at times, which also gets commented on by the students in her art club.
- Yoshinoya-sensei in Hidamari Sketch is a very good example. She considers herself a young woman before even thinking of herself as a teacher, delights in dressing up in costumes, and is prone to odd looks from her students.
- Her principal is always extremely disgusted with her, and Hilarity Ensues whenever they meet.
- Kaneru from Doujin Work is an office lady with a very childlike disposition, which makes her bond with Token Mini-Moe Sora very well.
- Jack Rakan in Mahou Sensei Negima! doesn't count himself among the main cast, but he's managed to become a major player in the kid/teen-filled Ala Alba. Keep in mind, he's old enough to be considered a Bad Ass Grandpa. The other Ala Rubra members (Eishun, Albireo) by contrast had a sense of aloofness to the main cast.
- Grandpa from The Beano acts like a child and plays with children but as his name suggests is elderly (although he is never shown to have Grandchildren) and also has an even older dad who used to beat him with a slipper if he misbehaved.
- Buddy the Elf in the movie Elf, in which most of his actions are naive, adult child-related, not elf-like. In fact, he's just about an opposite to all of the other elves in the film.
- Maria from The Sound of Music loves singing and dancing and being a free spirit. This concerned the nuns at the Abbey, as she at first wanted to be a nun.
- Brand in The Goonies. He spends the first act of the film trying to keep his little brother and his friends in line, but he eventually gets swept up in the adventure as much as the rest of them.
- Mac and Kelly in Neighbors. Leads to a pretty humorous argument where he feels Kelly should be the responsible one.
- In X2: X-Men United, Nightcrawler was excluded from the planning session along with the younger X-Men.
Live Action TV
- Gordy the janitor on Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide who helps with many of the main characters' simple plans.
- Spencer from iCarly. Worse, he's a Promoted To Parent older brother to the main character. Yeah...the only parental figure Carly has is more of a kid than she is. At least she's a high schooler—or is it supposed to be middle school? If it's supposed to be middle school, it's Dawson Casting; if high school, then not.
- Middle school in season 1, high school in subsequent seasons (even though it's all in the same school building).
- Cliff Huxtable of The Cosby Show may be a doctor, but he often has childlike traits. Mostly he uses them only around children.
- Gibson in A.N.T. Farm acts in this way most of the time. He seems to have a mental age below that of the kids - even assuming the ANTs were regular highschoolers, let alone of an age when they'd normally be at middle school.
- Dr. Rodney Mckay from Stargate Atlantis is one, so much so that in one episode a little girl brattier than him calls him out on it.
- Fran Fine from The Nanny, which is one reason she's such a great nanny to the Sheffield children.
- Pig from Pearls Before Swine is eternally clueless and innocent compared to the world around him. All of his friends, particularly his roommate Rat, ridicule him for this.
- Rat himself can act very childish often, though in a more selfish, bratty way than Pig. An example of this is him separating himself and Pig into a "Cool Fence" and "Uncool Fence". Also, he prefers for people to give him what he wants, despite Goat and Zebra's urging to make him think otherwise.
- Wooten Basset from Adventures in Odyssey skirts on this trope. He has many child like interests and behaviors but he also retains a perceptive intellect. It is implied that he acts the way he does out of choice, as his parents raised him to be as strict and disciplinary as possible, not allowed to experience the joys of childhood like playing outside or even having toys.
- Ray and Ed from the Peacock And Gamble Podcast seem to both have this as their default setting. Ray, in particular, is obsessed with Star Wars lego, and Ed frequently calls him out on the number of bizarre children's toys and memorabilia he has in his house - including a Gamorrean Guard's head, and a full-sized working replica of Gonzo from the Muppets. They both like to speak in a sort of blissful, giddy idiom, too.
- All the human characters of Ms. Bleep have regressed to this, having spent an unknown amount of time "trapped in school in perpetuity" with a robotic kindergarten teacher that gives them an electric shock every time they leave or misbehave. Cindy, the resident brown-noser, doesn't even seem to remember the outside world or the fact that she's an adult, and has no way of comprehending the death of a fellow captive. The other two are trying to escape, but they're still jarringly childlike in regard to such subjects as cookies and naptime.
- Mary in Vanities, mainly due to her difficult childhood. She finally matures in the finale of The Musical.
- Weston Hurley in Lanford Wilson's The Fifth of July could certainly qualify.
- In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Maya Fey very much fits the bill (even when she is 17 in the first game), most prominently her complete obsession with children's television programs, which Phoenix notes in the 3rd game. The fourth game hints that she hasn't changed in nine years, given that she would be 26 by that time. In the first game she argues with a seven-year-old about said children's programs, and in the second and third games she's often in the company of her eight/nine-year-old cousin, highlighting her childish personality.
- Taiga Fujimura in Fate/stay night., who despite being an adult is almost always in the company of people younger than her, and her maturity level is the same as theirs if not younger. This means that she gets kicked out of the route around halfway through each time. Notable childishness: berserker fury over being called Tiger, challenging Saber to a fight and bursting into tears when she loses, the most overboard expressions in the game, and switching the labels on soy sauce and oyster juice. Notably, the visual novel shows that she only acts immature at home and is generally much more competent as a teacher.
- Dangan Ronpa has Yasuhiro Hagakure, who's 20 years old while the other main characters are high school students (he was held back a few years). Despite being the oldest of the students, he's probably even more ditzy and immature than the rest of them.
- In the Lighter and Softer Watchmen parody, G-rated Watchmen, the Watchmen characters are given the behavior and personalities of young children. The authority figures are treated as the "grown-ups", despite being around the same age as the main characters.
- Pinkie Pie in Slice of Life, who ends up being a confidante to the Cake twins as a result.
- Captain Sunshine from The Venture Bros. is a superhero whom is a parody of Batman, everyone thinks he's a pedophile due to the way he acts around young boys as it turns out he's just a big Man Child who's lonely after his first Wonderboy died.
- Johnny Bravo is a main-character example, who interacts with the neighborhood kids like he's one of them. He also lives with his mother like a child, but he's clearly an adult.
- Richard in The Amazing World of Gumball. He spends a lot of time with his sons and sometimes his daughter, mostly because he's a Man Child Bumbling Dad who doesn't have a job.
- This appears to be Uncle Grandpa's job. If he's interacting with someone he doesn't live with, he's probably helping a kid.
- Websites with a membership system and a community that caters to something intended for a younger audience will inevitably have some members who are much older than said intended audience yet enjoy regardless. Since they tend to act the exact same as everyone else and are treated as such, it often comes as quite the surprise when the guy with the avatar of Sponge Bob Square Pants doing the Impossibru face who always makes typos turns out to be in his forties or something.