Follow TV Tropes


Adults Are Useless / Webcomics

Go To

  • In The Adventures of Shan Shan, the main character can see things that "don't exist" and inanimate objects talk to him, but his parents can't tell what's happening. Even when his mother expresses concern about him "talking to himself," his father just laughs it off.
  • Bug Martini: Instead they gamble on your every move.
  • In Charby the Vampirate as Victor is growing up his mother emotionally abuses him while doting on his brother, his father turns a blind eye, child services leaves the family alone after decided his mother is a wonderful person and his paternal grandfather, the only person who seems to truly understand why he is a Weirdness Magnet and target for the supernatural, leaves Vic and Kellwood without explaining things to him since his presence is making Vic ill.
  • Advertisement:
  • Jason Yungbluth's Black Comedy comic series Clarissa, wherein the titular character is a kindergartener suffering repeated sexual abuse at the hands of her horrible, passive-aggressive father, features nothing but useless adults. Her family knows about the abuse, but is trying as hard as they possible can to turn a blind eye to it, and her kindergarten teacher is far, far too dense to interpret any of Clarissa's numerous pleas and drawings as the cries for help they very obviously are.
  • Dreamkeepers: Mostly played straight as an arrow in Prelude, especially when Mace and Whip are the focus. Averted in the graphic novels, with several competent adults in the story.
    • Although Mr. Nibbs plays it straight in the novels as well.
  • Massively subverted in El Goonish Shive. If it isn't apparent from that panel alone, everyone really did seem to have spent the past few years ignoring the problem and hoping for the best.
    • El Goonish Shive zig-zags this trope a bit at times, though with justification. While Mr. Verres is certainly not useless, he was eventually Kicked Upstairs due to how close he was getting to the comic's various situations, so that he's no longer in as convenient a position to be helpful. Likewise, Raven is most certainly not useless, but is forbidden to involve himself in situations where magic isn't present, so his helpfulness is also limited. There's also Jerry, who was only introduced to the plot just as he was about to die and be reborn, which, as he points out, will limit his helpfulness for a time.
  • Deconstructed in Gunnerkrigg Court. Antimony treats the teachers at the Court like they're useless, even those who have proved themselves competent and far more knowledgeable about the ongoing weirdness than she is. As a result, she nearly dies several times. (Annie's distrust appears to stem from the fact she had no shortage of Useless Adults in her life prior to enrollment at the Court: She could see The Guides; none of the staff at Good Hope could.)
    • This is addressed in Chapter 28: Sprimg Heeled, Part 2, where Jones finally calls out Antimony on this, pointing out that the situation with Jack could have been solved more quickly and with fewer problems if she had spoken to someone about it. Given that she gave Antimony crucial help twice in that chapter, releasing Reynardine and dispelling Zimmy's hallucinations with a rain shower, her words have weight. Unfortunately, the lessons didn't take as Jones again has to point out in Chapter 40 that her attitude is causing problems.
    • Also deconstructed in the fact that there's a very good reason not to trust some of the adults at the Court: an old conspiracy of the court's founders to sacrifice Jeanne and her lover so she would become a rage-filled wraith that would protect the Annan Waters. The problem is that the adults are very powerful and competent people ... and that is exactly why you should fear them, because some of them are not good people.
  • Advertisement:
  • Subverted in Homestuck. At first the adults seem like simple foils for the kids. Then John's dad is seemingly easily captured by the imps, and you expect the parents to be simple plot devices. Then it turns out that he and the other kids' guardians are immensely powerful and important to the game. At least, until they all die. Also definitely subverted by the Condesce, which is the only living adult Troll... and is very much not useless.
  • Latchkey Kingdom is built around this. Most of the adults spend very little time around any of the kids. When they do, they're either oblivious to the true issues in play, or actively the cause of the conflict for the children they're interacting with. With the exception of Willa's Grandfather, who is every bit as capable and aware as his grand-daughter.
  • Mandatory Roller Coaster offers many examples: the two guys on the couch, the two guys at the bar, and any instance of a business or office environment.
  • Memoria: The police won't look for Winston. More bewildering, their perfectly loving parents let them go look for Winston with little more than giving them money and instructing them to come back in a few days if they don't succeed.
  • The cast of Ménage à 3 are mostly in their 20s, but act more like teenagers — with useless parents. The few older characters are usually more flawed than anyone, with one or two small exceptions (such as Gary's sympathetic boss).
    • Nathan, Angele, and Angele's husband are all enthusiastic adulterers in one way or another.
    • Gary suffered a puritanical religious upbringing that he claims left him socially disabled.
    • Amber's parents have apparently never discovered that their daughter is a fairly famous porn star.
    • Worst of all is Yuki's father. He doesn't seem to be intentionally abusive, but he paid so little attention to his daughter that she was repeatedly exposed to the hentai rape artwork he drew professionally, which traumatised her so much she now has an intense fear of penises.
  • Penny and Aggie demonstrates this trope at least once, although parents are sometimes shown as being reasonably aware of things you'd expect them to know about their kids.
    • In "The Popsicle War" arc, a student widely publicize a video in which she accuses another student of lesbian rape, to the point where even all the students at a completely different school know about it within a few hours ... and not a single adult shows awareness of this, not even the administrators you'd expect to be concerned about a student rapist in their population.
    • The trope is, however, averted gradually but decisively with regard to Cyndi's dangerous and sadistic schemes, beginning in "Her Private Chambers" when Penny's parents, overhearing her and Stan discussing what she's done, resolve to act as Penny's "allies" in stopping her. In "Mister Smiles," Lynda acts on this by calling Cyndi's mother about her actions. Although this doesn't have an immediate effect, because Cyndi's an excellent liar and actor, it does plant the first seeds of suspicion in her mother, at least. Finally, at the climax of "Missing Person," the FBI, investigating Cyndi's kidnapping, examines her laptop, which her parents surrendered, and finds on it a private journal in which she details her past and future plans to drive her classmates to suicide. When Cyndi's parents view this after Cyndi has talked her captor Charlotte into stabbing herself, they commit her to a psychiatric hospital.
    • The trope is firmly averted in "The Last Summer of Youth: May," when Penny's parents, Rob and Lynda, prevent a potential date rape at her party — and do it with style.
  • Precocious sometimes subverts and sometimes plays straight this trope. Most of the parents are just as smart as their kids, but the stuff those kids can get away with is astonishing sometimes.
  • Sticky Dilly Buns features sisters Amber and Ruby (who are both in their 20s, but never mind). According to a line in Ménage à 3, of which this is a spin-off, their (off-stage) parents are wealthy doctors, but... Aside from their failure to bring up daughters able to handle adult life competently (one went into the sex industry, the other is screamingly neurotic), and the fact that they've apparently never even heard that their older daughter has become a fairly famous porn star, they also failed to notice that Ruby felt that they favored Amber (a problem admittedly probably exacerbated by Ruby knowing Amber's secret). Nor did they point out to Ruby that the very short skirts that she wore (thanks to some malevolently bad advice from a teacher) were hardly appropriate for someone seeking a serious graduate-level job in business. Finally, they sent Ruby to live with Amber, only telling Amber she was coming by e-mail, despite the fact that, according to Ruby, she told her mother that Amber never checks her e-mails.
  • In Suicide for Hire, nobody seems to bother to investigate what their teenage offspring are up to, nor get suspicious at the rash of teen suicides (despite their utter lack of subtlety). Two adults so far have found out about SFH, but only in order to request its services.
  • While adults in To Prevent World Peace aren't actually useless (in fact, one of the main characters is in her thirties), the magic system revolves around always-teenage-and-younger girls. Subverted somewhat in that the main characters' parents were not only aware she was a Magical Girl, they actually helped design her costume.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: