Would Hurt a Child

"I don't give a shit HOW old you are. Maybe think before you pick a fight next time."
Sol Badguy (to an unconscious May), Guilty Gear Xrd

In fiction and in the media in general, both heroes and villains usually agree on one thing: they Wouldn't Hurt a Child.

This creed exists for various reasons: it may be because Children Are Innocent, and thus should be protected and kept out of harm's way at all costs; it may be because, to Moral Guardians, seeing a child being brutalized is Harmful to Minors and thus should be avoided; it may also be because even writers mostly disagree with the idea of writing about harming a child.

But sometimes, some people just don't agree with that. Or just don't care. And, they do hurt children, sometimes even kill them, in defiance of the rule of Infant Immortality. Indeed, the act of harming a child usually comes off as the ultimate act of villainy and it takes a very specially evil character to do this.

Needless to say, this trope is almost always a Kick the Dog moment. Hence, the presence of Would Hurt A Child is often telltale of a Crapsack World or at least a Darker and Edgier series. However, it is surprisingly easy to subvert this trope simply by using Kids Are Cruel (the flip side of Children Are Innocent) and combining it with Pay Evil unto Evil. Want to go all the way? Make the children creepy or, even better, make them Enfants Terribles and, this time, hurting said children will look much less as a Moral Event Horizon crossing, even though there will always be some Moral Guardians or Papa Wolf / Mama Bear to complain. This may also be done by a Complete Monster to establish that even the Big Bad has lines s/he won't dare cross. Naturally, the Friend to All Children sees this type of character as a mortal enemy.

In Western works, this trope is rare and almost always done off-panel when played straight (read: when the violence towards the child isn't being stopped in the nick of time and causes actual damage). In Japanese fiction, child brutality is more common.

Important Note: This trope is about adults physically hurting children, fatally or not. The following are not examples: slapping, butt-warming and general discipline from parents to their children (that's Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off), psychological/verbal abuse (very common but not that trope), abduction (only applies if the child dies or gets effectively hurt), child on child violence (that's Kids Are Cruel), exploitation for profit by the parents if they aren't hurt (that is Financial Abuse). Violence to teenagers isn't an example either since teenagers are physically stronger than children and lack the "completely defenseless" element, especially if Teens Are Monsters. However, teenagers harming children applies.

There is also an interesting Double Standard when it comes to characters applying for this trope, since they are almost Always Male. Rarely are women described as being physically violent to children. Even rarer are the instances when they actually kill them. Indeed, killing children is among the few things that permanently prevent a woman from a convenient High-Heel–Face Turn. Extra points if the killing is done directly and at the woman's hands (i.e. stabbing, strangling etc...). Compare Pćdo Hunt, another child abuse trope where female perpetrators are similarly unheard of.

A subtrope of Kick the Dog. Burn The Orphanage is a particular form of this. See also Child Hater, who hates kids but isn't necessarily physically abusive and Nice Job Breaking It, Herod!, which is often an extreme version. Contrast Infant Immortality and Wouldn't Hurt a Child. Compare Kids Are Cruel, Children Are Innocent. Related to Eats Babies and Child Eater. Usually applies to the Sadist Teacher. If a villain who is quite capable of bothering adults prefers to spend his time as an antagonist for kids or teenagers, it's fair to say Pick on Someone Your Own Size.


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • Segata Sanshiro has been known to beat up kids who don't play enough Sega Saturn.

    Comedy 
  • Mike MacDonald, when he and his wife were trying to conceive a child, noted in his act he was going to do his best not to hit his kids, ever — unless, you know, they were coming at him with a knife or something.
    I don't wanna be one of those liberal parents who gets stabbed to death by their kid while saying, "Son, I'm sensing hostility OH GOD!"
  • One of Bernie Mac's punchlines in his act was threatening to beat his kids "till the white meat shows".
  • Denis Leary, in a larger bit about celebrity entitlement, said that he was looking forward to beating the shit out of his kids.
    That's therapy for you: mowin' the lawn while cryin'.

    Fan Works 

    Music 
  • Country music has approached the topic in several hit songs about child abuse. The video for Martina McBride's "Concrete Angel" comes the closest to actually showing parent-on-child abuse on-screen - a young boy watches as shadows on a wall depict a woman (an actress shaking a stunt dummy) shaking her daughter viciously. "Alyssa Lies" by Jason Michael Carroll strongly implies that a young girl had been viciously beaten by her father.
  • Formula 86 by Razakel. Allso Razakel's stage persona.
  • In Monster Magnet's "See You In Hell", the protagonist reveals himself to be driven towards killing himself and his significant other, by the voice of the infant they killed and dumped in a landfill.
  • WHIP YO KIDS featuring Nice Peter by Yourfavoritemartian. I'll punch a baby in the face just for cryin' on a plane.
  • GWAR does this on occasion, an example happening in the climax of The Animated Tales Of GWAR.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • King Herod did this in order to try to kill Jesus. Didn't work.
    • Earlier, Pharaoh killed Hebrew sons to keep the Hebrews from becoming strong enough that in case of a war they could join the enemy and fight against Egypt. Fortunately for the Hebrews, Moses escaped slaughter.
    • And God Himself kills the firstborn of Egypt as one of the Ten Plagues, as well as David and Bathsheba's firstborn. In his case, it's given the justification of Omniscient Morality License.
    • Some of the laws in the Old Testament requires parents to have their children stoned to death for being disobedient.
    • In Samuel I, King Saul is ordered to exterminate the Amalekites: every man, woman, child, and animal. He is removed from God's favor when he disobeys by being insufficiently thorough in the genocide.
  • Many Greek myths punish a parent by slaughtering their children. Probably the best known example is Medea with the addition that the children in question were her own and their deaths were to get back at the philandering Jason.
  • Norse Mythology:
    • Gudrun kills her own children who she birthed to Attila the Hun and puts them in his food.
    • Signe, sister of Sigemund (and therefore the aunt of Sigurd the Dragonslayer), is an even more cruel example. She casually offs the sons she bore with her husband, deeming them unfit. When she gives birth to her brother`s son, she willingly drives a needle through his arm, and he doesn´t blink. THAT is the son she deems to be fitting.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Bryan Danielson threatened to backhand a girl flipping him off while he was cutting a promo in Ring of Honor. She started flipping him off again while he continued his promo, leading to him getting out of the ring to confront her, with the crowd chanting for her to "fuck him up".
  • Melissa Coates slapped a boy booing prior to her challenging Mercedes Martinez for the WSU Title. Hailey Hatred went so far as to push over two adults then lift a little girl out her seat and throw her while in search of something to hit Martinez with.
  • While many of the wrestlers of Wonder Ring STARDOM would not have been considered legal adults at the time, nine year old HARUKA being put against men near their physical prime like Kenny Omega took the cake. Ice Ribbon did similar with Riho, who was eight.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Shadowrun: MegaCorps that want stable, loyal cyborgs have learned that children make the best candidates. HMHVV-infected are cannibalistic so it's assumed that they'll eventually eat children. Mr. Johnson may want your group to kidnap, hurt, or kill a target child for reasons he's unwilling to divulge.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Dread Emperor, a villain introduced in the Splat book The Book of Vile Darkness, not only gladly hurts children, he uses this behavior to benefit him in the most selfish way. An imposing, two meter tall man in golden armor, the Dread Emperor keeps children chained to his armor at all times with any damage done to the Emperor himself transferred to the children via the armor's magic. An unrepentant Serial Killer, the Emperor uses these children as a bait for any heroes foolish enough to take him on and does not limit his hostilities to children; he will often destroy entire city blocks when he's a mind to. When a hero challenges him, the Dread Emperor feels no compunction slaying hundreds simply to kill a target or mentally enslaving any civilians nearby and using them to attack his opponent for him.
    • Pale Night is a powerful demon lord who takes this Up to Eleven. Many eons ago, she tricked Morwell, the queen of the eladrin, into a vile pact that resulted in an entire generation of eladrin children being trapped in the Abyssal layer of Androlynne; since then, Pale Night and her forces have been hunting them down one by one at her leisure. To this day, armies of eladrin try to protect the children (who remain forever young due to the pact) and find a means for them to escape. Morwell's current consort Faerinaal leads the armies presently, and even though his predecessor (and the one before that one) perished doing so, less than a third of the children survive to the present day.
    • The 4th Edition introduces hideous monsters called banderhobs who kidnap mortals, some of them actually taking children from their bed at night. (The illustration for the creature in the Monster Manual 3 shows one about to do just that.) Where they take their victims and what they do with them is a mystery.

    Theater 
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Injun Joe is determined to kill Tom after he testifies against him.
  • In Pokémon Live!, Giovanni is perfectly willing to kill Ash with MechaMew2's Hyper Beam, and he engages him in a fistfight shortly before that.

    Theme Parks 
  • Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights implied this with their 2010 haunted maze, The Orfanage: it's heavily implied that the entire house takes place after the orphanage has burned down and you're being assaulted by the ghosts of the children, with various imagery and audio hinting at various tortures that the children were put through by their caretakers until Cindy demonstrated her abilities and burned down the orphanage with all the kids trapped inside.

    Visual Novels 
  • Kirei Kotomine of Fate/stay night rounded up all the surviving orphans of the Fuyuki Fire and cut off their limbs before sealing them in coffins that drained their prana. They were alive and aware for the entire ten years between the two wars.
    • Zouken Matou has no issues with Shinji treating Sakura harshly or raping her. In fact, he has gone to significant lengths to break her psychologically.
  • In Saya no Uta, Yousuke Suzumi dismembers his young daughter and rapes the young-looking Saya after getting the same type of Agnosia the protagonist suffers from.
  • In ATOM GRRRL!!, this is revealed to be the case for Anna, upon a mother begging to leave during Dave's attempted robbery:
    Anna: Did I fuckin' say you could talk? Just keep your head down, you old cunt.
    Lady: Eeeek!
    Anna: And keep your brats quiet or I'll bring 'em down to Mexico and sell 'em! We're doin' business right now, so shut the hell up!

    Web Animation 
  • This is attempted in the Yogscast Minecraft Series, specifically in Shadow of Israphel, when the titular antagonist hunts down the Antioch bloodline and murders Peculier's mother, later trying to target him and his sister Isabel as infants. This forces their father to make a Heroic Sacrifice and stop him.
  • Carl from Llamas with Hats once created a machine for the specific purpose of crushing orphans to death. In the second episode, Paul also mentions him head butting children off the side of a sinking ship.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • AlChestBreach:
    • Played for laughs. Word to the wise: don't try talking over Al.
    • Ronald Dillinger, the child whom Doctor Dan (played by Al) hunted down and killed Ronald because he escaped life as a slave.
  • In one of his Counter Monkey episodes, Spoony warns that if you ever DM a game, never put the players in a situation where they come across some orcs looking after orc babies. Because inevitably, someone won't want to kill the babies, but someone else will.
  • Whateley Universe:
    • The Mafiosi in "Mimeographic" who were perfectly willing to kill a twelve-year-old boy unless the kid attempted to commit murder for them.
    • Also, Jared Reilley's father, who — once he decided for no rational reason that Jared might not be his son - tried to beat Jared to death with his bare hands. He only failed because Jared manifested as a mutant under the stress.
  • The Evil Overlord List recommends this as a way to stop would-be heroes:
    If I learn that a callow youth has begun a quest to destroy me, I will slay him while he is still a callow youth instead of waiting for him to mature.
  • Worm:
    • Coil has zero qualms about employing child soldiers, setting said child soldiers to kill teenagers, or in one case abducting a nine-year-old girl and addicting her to various drugs just so that he could use her powers for his own benefit.
    • At one point, we are shown the aftermath of the Slaughterhouse Nine attacking a hospital, including the nursery.
  • Toki is an odd example in that she usually didn't harm children, not while meaning to or otherwise in a psychotic fit, unless said child was Jaynine, in which case it was brutal.
  • One guest researcher of the SCP Foundation actually introduced two children to SCP-682. one of whom was drugged, neither of whom survived, and he might have done it again had not Dr. Clef intervened by introducing the guest researcher to it. (To give an example of how horrible this act was that Dr. Clef killed him for, Dr. Clef's identity is not known; the most common theory is that he's Satan.)
    • In one Tale, Dr. Clef caused a massive containment breach and killed several personnel in an attempt to kill SCP-239, an 8-year-old girl capable of manipulating reality. Justified as he made the attempt to terminate SCP-239 because she was afraid of him and her Reality Warper powers made that into reality. After she's put into a medically-induced coma and Clef is detained, he asks the interviewer if he's ever seen the show Gargoyles.
    Dr.Clef: It's not a child, Konny, it's a monster, the worst kind of monster, one that hides in plain sight, makes you love it before it butchers you alive.
  • Assuming that the puppets are children, nearly all of the villains of the Don't Hug Me I'm Scared series.
    • Sketchbook drives them insane in the first video, though it's unclear how intentional this was.
    • Tony yells at them until Yellow Guy's ears bleed, then rots them alive to prove a point.
    • The Monster in the HELP videos kidnaps them, rips off and packages their limbs and would've killed them outright had he not gotten as much money as he wanted.
    • One of the Love Cultists rips off the top of Yellow Guy's head in the third. It's also implied that Shrignold raped Yellow Guy.
    • Collin in the fourth video traps them in an alternate universe where all they can do is open doors over and over again for eternity. When Red Thing manages to escape, his head explodes, but it's unclear if Collin was responsible.
    • The Food Band in the fifth video apparently tricks Yellow Guy into eating Duck Guy alive.
    • The Lamp in the sixth drowns Yellow Guy in oil. Also, Roy is revealed to have been controlling all the previous teachers, making him an example as well.
  • Ask That Guy with the Glasses loves killing and raping children.
  • Not Always Right does have the occasional asshole who might attack a child when they flip out:

Alternative Title(s): Would Harm A Child, Infanticide, Physical Child Abuser

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WouldHurtAChild