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Adults Are Useless / Video Games

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Useless adults in video games.

  • Any RPG where the main characters are almost always under 20, often around 14-18. Normally there is one or two older characters to act as a sage or adviser.

  • Carl Clover of BlazBlue holds this a core belief. All adults are stupid, selfish and usually outright evil. He has a very good reason for thinking like this, though. He has since loosened up, now considering that there's at least two honest-to-god decent and good adults, Bang and Litchi. The jury's still out about that adult and Camp Gay performer chasing him (Amane).
  • Bully. Surprisingly one of the most accurate portrayals of this trope. It's set in a school, one that's plagued by bullying. Even if the student body consists of about 70 people, the adults and the four prefects seem to just stand there going, "Duuuuuuuuh" while Gary manipulates all the cliques into fighting with each other. Even if the prefects (and adults) do chase Jimmy and can be seen occasionally busting a student, it's obvious the prefects are power-hungry jerks who're oblivious to most of the stuff that goes on in the school, and so are the adults. (i.e., the nerds are able to construct potato gun turrets in the astronomy club building without alerting adults and it's implied they have no supervision, the jocks throw explosive-laden footballs at a student, the gym gets lit on fire and nobody calls the police unless you fail and nobody even mentions it afterwords.) It's safe to say even if the game has a realistic portrayal of how useless adults can be in a school setting; you can probably rest easily given that if this happened in real life, people WOULD call the police and the school would be closed in a year. (Mr. Burton especially would be fired for encouraging the bullying and the implications that he sexually harassed Zoe. Which he is anyway.)
  • The Colour Tuesday has the adults of the world at the mercy of being turned into puppets by the Others. Children aren't affected. Combines with Competence Zone.
  • Defied in Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars. Despite a divinely-enforced Competence Zone meaning only teenagers can actually fight, it's made clear everyone knows that leaving them to actually coordinate the war effort would be an unmitigated disaster. Senior military ranks, positions of authority, mission coordinators and the R&D team are all comprised of highly-educated adults.
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  • Most of the adults in EarthBound are incompetent. The police force of Onett fights Ness for trespassing, and loses. Some of the Happy Happy cultists are too busy painting cows blue to care for their children back in Twoson. The Runaway Five is continually in debt everywhere they go. Porky's dad in Fourside is seen riding off of his son's success, and later in the game he's lost everything.
  • Escape From St. Mary's: Adults mostly seem indifferent to your characters' pleas for help on after encountering increasingly bizarre phenomena.
  • Two teenagers in a parking lot are entirely capable of starting a school on their own in High School Story. It just builds from there. When Hope is bullied on her school's website, the principal demands that she show proof of the bullying before he will do anything. This despite the fact that it's the school's website and he should be more than capable of accessing the public pages where other students were posting about her. There's also the fact that it went on publicly for months and absolutely no teachers or moderators took notice. He does finally call the police after she brings him the evidence, going from "does nothing at all" to "gung-ho borderline-overreacting" in record time.
  • The Kiseki Series subverts this trope as much as possible while still keeping its younger viewpoint characters relevant. There are several competent, more experienced adults that can and do show up the younger characters, every step of the way in skill and practice. Which is exactly why they stay out of situations their Bracers/police/soldiers in training can work with on their own. A student can't truly learn to rely on their skills if they had to depend on their mentors to get by. However, when they decide not to hold back, they frequently reach Story-Breaker Power levels of competence. This is also one of the reasons why the overall villains of the series, Ouroboros easily get what they want as almost all their members are competent adults. They also aren't afraid to weaponize adults' vulnerability and trust toward children, as the Black Fang and the Angel of Slaughter demonstrate with chilling effectiveness.
    • By Cold Steel IV, the three protagonists of the various arcs are all adults and are very competent compared to their younger years with the three leads being experienced protagonists.
  • Life Is Strange is all over the place with this trope.
    • Principal Wells is almost guaranteed not to believe Max in any situation. If you tell him about Nathan Prescott having a gun in the bathroom, Wells will cite Nathan's family and status as an honor-roll student as reasons why this is unlikely. The worst he does is call him to the office. The action also backfires on Max, as he'll then contact her parents and accuse her of "telling tall tales". If you try to report David Madsen before class in Episode 2, Wells always finds an excuse to not trust what Max says no matter what choices the player has made. The only time he's remotely helpful is in the aftermath of Kate's suicide. Depending on your previous choices, he can be convinced to suspend Nathan on suspicion of drugging Kate and recording the salacious video of her, suspend Madsen for antagonizing Kate (but only if you have proof), or lightly punish Mr. Jefferson for Victim Blaming Kate. Chloe picks up on this, deriding him as a drunk more concerned with the school's bottom line. In Nathan's case, Wells is being pressured by his rich father, to the point that Nathan's records are outright falsified.
    • The local security guard, David Madsen, is outright antagonistic to Max and Kate, though he's at least shown intervening in the fight between Nathan and Warren after Chloe takes off with Max. He can be seen grilling Nathan in Episode 2. He does seem to mean well, it's just that he has trouble separating his prior military from civilian life. He ultimately turns out to be a subversion: David is actually the only authority figure investigating Rachel's disappearance and he's the key to defeating the villain. And his earlier pressuring of Kate? He knows she was sexually assaulted by a member of the Vortex Club and was trying to help but he was too heavy-handed.
    • Mr. Jefferson is a nice guy in Episode 1, but when confronted with cruel gossip about a student in Episode 2, he resorts to Victim Blaming. He also turns out to be the Big Bad all along and murders Chloe upon his reveal. It's likely he willfully invoked this trope to manipulate Kate and clean up a possible loose end.
    • Ms. Grant is also shown to be nice, but the extent of her help so far is a petition to stop Madsen from putting up security cameras. If Max signs the petition, it will pass.
    • Could also be said of the police who have stopped investigating Rachel's disappearance. However, once Max exposes the Big Bad they immediately arrest him.
      • And in the scenario where Max lets Chloe die, they immediately come down on Jefferson after Nathan confesses to his involvement in his crimes. They also go after Nathan's father for his involvement.
  • Mega Man Battle Network: All of the adults are either just standing around, willing to netbattle instead of try to fix things, or nothing. The only competent adults are either involved with the WWW (Even Baryl & Colonel), Mr. Higsby, (For different reasons) or Lan's dad.
    • Chaud lampshades this when he mentions that the official netbattlers are all off in la-la-land.
    • The spiritual sequel series Megaman Star Force also uses this, but since there are only a handful of people around the world capable of wave changing, including the villains, all of whom have roughly the same amount of experience, there is no logical reason why a kid can't be the most naturally gifted member of that group.
  • Psychonauts: Pretty much every adult at Whispering Rock will be of little direct help once the serious trouble starts. Agents Nein and Vodelo get sent away on some unrelated mission, Coach Oleander is a villain, and Agent Cruller can't leave his HQ because his mind is too fractured and keeps devolving into the custodial staff roles he has all over the camp if he tries to leave. Although Cruller does play a decent Mission Control, providing useful tactics and advice. After freeing Fred Bonaparte (who's actually an orderly) from his psychological issues, Raz assumes he'll help get rid of Crispin (who's actually an inmate) and avoiding the need for a disguise. Fred decides to take a nap instead. (After you've gotten past Crispin, Fred will show up and chase him away. At least this means you'll be able to use the elevator again without a disguise.)
  • There are whole two adults in the Rose Garden Orphanage in Rule of Rose, and the one with actual authority is a problem, not a helper, with his implied sexual abuse of the teenaged residents, and while the cleaning lady is more observant, it doesn't matter since the Police are Useless and won't listen to her, and she gets murdered for her troubles.
  • Shin Megami Tensei generally downplays this; while the protagonist and their closest friends tend to be teenagers, several games also include adults as party members and allies.
    • The Persona games are probably the straightest examples, and even they add a few wrinkles:
      • Actually subverted in Persona 2. A third of the playable cast of Innocent Sin (Maya & Yukino) are adults, & are some of the party's stronger members (Yukino however was playable in the first game). Eternal Punishment however takes it a step further. The only playable character who can be considered a child is Innocent Sin's main protagonist, Tatsuya Suou.
      • While the people doing the fighting in Persona 3 are all teenagers, the game also features adults who are in on the masquerade to some extent; they do their best to help you outside of the Dark Hour, but can't do anything directly. Also, one of the first tier Big Bads is an adult. A relatively mundane example involves Fuuka's homeroom teacher, who looks the other way when she gets bullied, and actively covers up her disappearing for ten days, all to protect his reputation.
      • Justified in Persona 4 where the conflict occurs in a dimension that the police have no access to; the only adults who know about TV World are the antagonists. This trope applies because they simply had no way to know what's really going on; the police close the case when someone falsely admits to all of the murders, and even late in the game when you are straightforward about your "extracurricular activities", your uncle, Ryotaro Dojima doesn't believe you. When you receive a threatening letter, Naoto advises against telling Dojima about it, saying that doing so would result in you being put under surveillance, thus preventing you from actually working to save the victims.
      • This is a major theme in Persona 5. Most of the adults you deal with are this trope at best, and at worst they are outright evil bastards who routinely abuse their power to get away with everything from sexual harassment to outright murder. It ultimately comes down to your teenage protagonists to set everything right. At the end of the game, one of the adults, Sae Nijima (whose aid is necessary to avoid the worst ending), acknowledges this trope and vows to defy it; it's noted that although you got the bad guys to confess their sins, it's her job as a public prosecutor to ensure they actually end up behind bars. However, several of the Confidants who help the heroes in their endeavors are working adults who are quite capable at what they do.
    • The series also has several games which outright invert this:
      • Digital Devil Saga: With only two exceptions, the cast are exceptionally skilled doctors (Heat), scientists (Serph and Gale), and nurses (Argilla).
      • In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, the playable character and his crew are all highly-trained military personnel.
  • Sir Basil Pike Public School, a game about bullying, has the uselessness of adults as one of its central themes. There's no situation in the entire game where actually going to an adult for help will get you anything but a headache. At best, he'll tell you that it was a good idea, but he doesn't have time to listen to your crap right now and you should solve your own problems, at worst, he'll babble a warped version of the Judgment of Solomon that has no answer.
  • Strongly featured in the Touch Detective series. The most competent ones often turn out to be psychopaths.
  • Yandere Simulator zig-zags this. If a teacher is called to a murder scene by a student, but Yandere-chan has successfully cleaned up after herself, she will assume it was a prank, scold the student and leave. Similarly, the police won't conduct further investigation if multiple calls come from the school in a short space of time thanks to the Headmaster bribing them to stay away from the school after his reputation was nearly ruined by a murder years ago. Otherwise, the police can quickly pick up on any evidence Yandere-chan leaves lying around and arrest her. And if the teachers know that you committed a crime, then they WILL apprehend you.


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