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Cousin Oliver

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...introducing Buster!

"Do? What does he do? Why, he's adorable! And people will love it!"
Dr. Forrester, Mystery Science Theater 3000

Cousin Oliver is that inexplicable kid added to the show's roster, usually in an attempt to liven up an aging cast with a character the younger demographics can (supposedly) relate to. However, such a character is likely to upset the dynamic of the show, especially since his only job is to be cute and innocently wisecrack. It's far too easy for the writers to miss "sweetly precocious" and tumble right into "overbearing and annoying", especially to the show's long-time fans (who don't see why this kid should be taking attention away from their favorite characters anyway). Depending on how deft the writers are at making him "lovable," Cousin Oliver can become a fan favorite Ensemble Dark Horse or The Scrappy (or worse).

Sometimes Cousin Oliver is the logical result of a character's season-long pregnancy arc. Once the writers have exhausted the possibilities of new baby hijinks, the infant undergoes Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome — or even a Plot-Relevant Age-Up if the setting allows for it — so they can become a regular member of the cast. This doesn't always make it better.

Compare Kid-Appeal Character, who is generally there from the beginning. If the addition is a literal cousin, see also Nephewism. The character will often be a Token Houseguest.

Often a form of Jumping the Shark. If there's actually an in-series point to the character, compare Cain and Abel and Seth.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • To Love Ru has Celine: Rito's giant carnivorous plant that apparently turns into a humanoid toddler as part of her life cycle. Thankfully, she doesn't throw off the cast dynamic much, as her presence is generally limited to wreaking havoc.
  • Chibiusa in Sailor Moon, came from the future and brainwashed Usagi's family into thinking she was her little sister/cousin (depending on the translation). Even if the intervention of Luna — Usagi's magic talking cat — prevents Usagi from falling under the influence of Chibiusa's magic, making her for some time the only one aware of Chibiusa's nature (even if Usagi learns the whole story only much later and that Chibiusa is really her daughter from the future).
    • The 'SuperS' season of the original anime focuses more heavily on Chibiusa and her friends, even having some of the older characters temporarily disappear. It's also generally considered the weakest and most skippable season.
  • Several chapters into School-Live! Yuuri literally remembers she has a little sister. She had forgotten her due to the zombie apocalypse. She later saves her from a zombie-infested school and Ruu becomes a Tagalong Kid. The series compares the notoriously immature Yuki to Ruu and explains that Yuki was a Replacement Goldfish, and Ruu explains why Yuuri is such a Cool Big Sis. In a dark twist it is heavily implied Ruu is Dead All Along and that Yuuri is hallucinating a teddy bear is her little sister.
  • Hana-chan in Ojamajo Doremi is a baby character who suddenly joins the cast when they witness her birth in the Witch World. In the fourth season, she turns into a toddler in an 11-year-old's body.
  • Pokémon Journeys: The Series gives us Goh's Sobble, who was introduced when Goh's Scorbunny evolved into Raboot and later Cinderace. Later, Goh caught Grookey a couple episodes before Sobble would evolve into Drizzile, essentially making it the Cousin Oliver to Cousin Oliver.

    Asian Animation 

    Comic Books 
  • Teen Titans:
    • Danny Chase was even designed to look like Cousin Oliver. Combine this with an abrasive personality, lack of codename, costume, or original powers, and he quickly became a Creator's Pet as well. In other words, Danny Chase is to the Teen Titans what Zan, Jayna, Wendy, and Marvin are to the Superfriends Justice League. At least they tried to be heroes; Chase tried to be holier-than-thou. He became Black Lantern fodder.
    • The Titans fell victim to this again in the early 2000s when Andrew Helfer took over as editor. With no prior knowledge or interest in the team, Helfer used the book to introduce the DEOrphans, a bunch of superpowered kids who badgered the Titans into giving them a home. Writer Jay Faerber was forced to alter most if not all of his plotlines to include the orphans, derailing several different arcs while having the normally sweet Lian Harper repeatedly express how much she hated those kids. Faerber's run on Titans ended with the DEOrphans being reclaimed by the D.E.O., and they haven't appeared since.
  • Batman:
    • Damian Wayne, made Robin at age 10, just as Tim Drake was growing out of the tights. Lampshaded in Red Robin #14, where the oldest and youngest of the first three Robins refer to each other as Marcia and Cindy, and lock Damian out of a file with the password "cousinoliver".
    • Jason Todd. He even managed to die and grow up (in that order). Introduced as a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for Dick Grayson, who had aged out of Robin, his presence coincided with some of the lowest readership levels in Batman history. He finally got a unique origin after Crisis on Infinite Earths, but remained less popular than his predecessor, leading to his death. Of course, in death he became far more important than he had been in life and was eventually resurrected as an older teen - ironically, to replace Dick as Nightwing (as Dick was originally planned to die during Infinite Crisis). The character seems to have surpassed his origin as this trope... it just took a few decades.
  • Superman:
    • Supergirl: Kara Zor-El was a sixteen-year-old introduced in The Supergirl From Krypton (1959), when Superman and his supporting cast were in their thirties, as a way to attract young female readers. Unlike other examples, though, Kara became a hit among readers who found her charming and adorable. It probably helped that, unlike other examples, Supergirl had her own strip and only made guest appearances in the other Superman books, so nobody felt that they were being forced to put up with her presence.
    • Chris Kent when he was introduced. It didn't help that Kon-El had been killed off recently. Following the trope to the letter, he eventually caught a case of Plot-Relevant Age-Up.
  • The Mighty Thor: Subverted with "Kid-Loki" who is just the normal Loki reincarnated as his kid self (with only his childhood memories and powers). He has avoided being The Scrappy by being just so much fun to read about (getting the best lines in the Thor comics), and because he is perfectly aware that he's doing things most kids shouldn't do (but, being Loki, doesn't care because he wants to save Thor's life from The Serpent). Plus he somehow gets the two best parts of being a Kid Hero—he has the youthful idealism (as much as anyone is idealistic in post-Civil War Marvel, anyways), and the maturity to still actually get things done. He might be the best-liked Cousin Oliver ever for that.
  • X-Men: Kitty Pryde was introduced to the cast of just as the five original X-Men were hitting their mid-20s, and after the team had been retooled as a group of adult superheroes. She was just a teenager in her first appearance and essentially played the same Audience Surrogate role as Jean Grey in the very first issue. Fans generally agree that this wasn't a bad thing; in fact, Kitty pretty quickly became one of the series' most popular and prominent characters, and she's fondly remembered as one of Chris Claremont's best contributions to the franchise.
  • Atomic Robo: Part of the reason plans for a film adaptation fell through is that the Hollywood executives involved kept insisting on adding a "relatable" young character to serve as Robo's sidekick and youthify the story. The creators were stridently against the idea, knowing full well that characters like this are usually instantly hated and pointing out that Atomic Robo is a series aimed at adults which has no need for a Kid-Appeal Character. They further pointed out that even if they did have a need for such a character, wouldn't kids prefer to watch a cool robot superhero over some random other kid? But the execs refused to budge which combined with other issues to make the creators take the rights and walk. The whole sordid affair was later parodied in the comic itself with an issue about Robo being forced to team up with a kid on a mission. He spends the entire time bitching about it, then ends the issue by deconstructing the entire idea of a Kid Hero and telling the kid point blank that she cannot work at Tesladyne because that would break child labor laws and be intensely unethical. Pointedly, said kid character does later join Tesladyne and become a proper member of the cast… decades later (in-universe) when she's well into her twenties and doesn't qualify as a Cousin Oliver anymore.

    Comic Strips 
  • Luann: Shannon. Originally just a Bratty Half-Pint who was occasionally babysat by the titular character, she was then retconned into the niece of Toni, Brad's love interest. Over time she appeared more and more, to the point where now she's essentially being raised by Toni and Brad (good luck finding a Brad/Toni story since 2017 that doesn't focus mainly on Shannon) while her actual father hasn't been seen on-panel in years. In addition, she's become a regular at Luann's house as well.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Blues Brothers 2000, the generally unwanted followup to The Blues Brothers, had many, many, many faults, and the fact that the new pseudo-Blues pseudo-Brothers band received a brand new member certainly did not alleviate the situation. It certainly doesn't help that the kid genuinely and without exaggeration serves absolutely no purpose in the movie, only speaking to Elwood two or three times at most throughout the entire film.
  • The even-numbered Indiana Jones films use this, with Short Round in Temple of Doom and Mutt in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
  • Fred Kelman from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, who got nearly the same amount of screentime as the Rangers themselves, despite doing next to nothing and being all-around useless until the climax.
  • The addition of Howard Phillips to the third film in the Re-Animator series, replacing the protagonist of the last two films, Dan Cain. Though not a kid, Phillips is significantly younger; producer/director Brian Yuzna admitted freely that Phillips' addition was due to Yuzna's desire not to make a film about "two middle-aged guys".
  • In 1993, audiences of RoboCop 3 were treated to the exciting revelation that, look, RoboCop now has a little friend! She's nothing like RoboCop 2's murderous psychopath Hob, and, in fact, she is even a skilled hacker!
  • Domesticating Nick and Nora Charles in sequels to The Thin Man by giving them a kid didn't work very well with the witty, urbane, martini-swilling vibe that made the series popular. In ...Goes Home, the fifth installment, Nick Jr. is absent when Nick and Nora go to visit Nick's parents (supposedly he's away at school).

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Trope Namer was added to The Brady Bunch toward the end and was the last gasp of the show. He's also cited as the definitive proof of the franchise having jumped the shark.
  • Robbie Rist (who played the original Cousin Oliver) became a Cousin Oliver again a couple of years later when he was Ted Baxter's adopted son in The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
  • Blue Bloods did a rare adult version of this, introducing Detective Joseph Hil, the heretofore unknown son of the late Joseph Reagan, at the end of the 10th season.
  • In season 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy, after seasons of being an only child, suddenly has a younger sister named Dawn, who actually turns out to be the result of a magic spell which altered everyone's memories (including her own) and that she's actually a Cosmic Keystone in human form.
  • The Cosby Show:
    • Cousin Pam. Much older than most of the examples listed here, but she essentially served the same purpose for when the older kids were gradually moving out.
    • Denise gets married off-screen and comes back with a stepdaughter named Olivia right around the time that Rudy starts going through puberty. Is it possible this was a direct nod to Oliver? Olivia/Oliver?
    • Even Rudy herself, despite being one of the original Cosby kids. Later season episodes were far more focused on her and her friends than previously
    • The grandkids Winnie and Nelson (Sondra's twins) got more screen time as well—numerous scenes of Cliff or Claire interacting with them.
  • Amen did an older version of this as well, with Clarence, a street-wise kid whom Deacon Frye took under his wing showing up in the final season of the show. And there was Jeanette, a foster child of Thelma's, who showed up in the first season rather than later, unlike most examples of this trope.
  • On 227 there was Alexandria DeWitt (played by Countess Vaughn), who was added as a character in season 4. However, by the end of the season, Alexandra was gone when her archaeologist father retrieved her.
  • Diff'rent Strokes:
    • Sam (Danny Cooksey), the new younger brother from Phillip Drummond's second marriage. The series went from focusing on Willis playing older brother to Arnold to Arnold playing older brother to Sam. There wasn't much room for Willis afterwards.
  • Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman's mother brings new doctor Andrew Cook to town to take over for her during her maternity leave and take over for good should she decide not to return to work. He ends up marrying her daughter Colleen in the series finale.
  • Eight is Enough had Cousin Jeremy (Ralph Macchio, who went on to become The Karate Kid).
  • The Facts of Life:
    • Kelly, the teen shoplifter, was added after the girls moved out of the dorms. Thankfully her addition was short-lived.
    • There was also Pippa, the Australian foreign exchange student, added for what turned out to be the last season.
    • And also Andy, who was adopted by Beverly Ann.
  • In Family Matters the Winslows adopt 3J, a streetwise little orphan. Since there already was a kid in the show, little Richie, they merged into a single split-personality Cousin Oliver ("Maybe we shouldn't do this." "Oh, come on, it'll be fun!").
  • Joey Lawrence for Gimme a Break!, then his brother Matt. The Lawrence kids made a cottage industry of being a Cousin Oliver.
  • Penny (Janet Jackson) on Good Times was introduced to give Wilona someone to care for, since the Evans kids weren't really kids anymore.
  • Growing Pains had two: Chrissy, the youngest Seaver child (played by Ashley Johnson), and then later Leonardo Dicaprio's homeless-kid character.
  • Little House on the Prairie:
    • The final seasons feature a hilarious number of random "adorable" orphans shoehorned into the Little House after the original kids left home. These include Albert (adopted off the streets of the Big City), James and his sister Cassandra (parents killed in a wagon crash), Jenny (left on Laura's doorstep by her dying brother-in-law), etc. This is despite the show already having two younger Ingalls sisters in Carrie and Grace. Oddly enough, as more than one fan has remarked in alarm, Pa Ingalls never did build an addition to his two-room shanty.note 
    • The Olesons' adoption of street urchin Nancy, who just happens to look and act a lot like Nellie. This is a mild subversion, in that Nancy is added to be the Alpha Bitch as opposed to a beacon of cuteness. Even more interesting, this is an invoked example—Harriett Oleson deliberately adopted the brattiest, most badly behaved child in the local orphanage to replace the grownup Nellie. Nellie herself lampshades it in one episode, worrying that Nancy may feel like she's not really wanted in the family since she was specifically chosen for her resemblance to Nellie.
    • Incidentally, Jenny, introduced a year after Nancy, may have been made the age she was in order to have a little girl around Nancy's age with whom she could butt heads, much like Laura and Nellie years earlier.
  • Married... with Children had Peggy's young cousin Seven, who was adopted by the Bundys at the beginning of Season Seven (get it?) since the original "Children" were both adults by that point. The character proved so unpopular with viewers and writers alike that partway through the season, he suffered from Chuck Cunningham Syndrome when he was removed with absolutely no explanation (though he had his Face on a Milk Carton for Lampshade Hanging effect). The problem with Seven was how Married relied on a lot of adult, sexual, and sadistic humor that really wouldn't work with a child (Kelly and Bud were already teenagers in the first season and fair game for more mature comedy), and writing jokes appropriate for him clashed with the usual tone of the show.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 sharply parodied the Trope in the "Escape 2000" episode with "Timmy Bobby Rusty", a lisping kid whom Dr. Forrester employed to help boost the show's sagging ratings. He lasted exactly one segment.
  • Parodied in My Name Is Earl, in one episode Earl fantasises about a perfect sitcom life with his wife Billie in which they adopt his African American "Cousin Wendall" when their own kids are grown and not so cute anymore.
  • In My Three Sons they formally adopted Chip's orphan friend Ernie. Justified, sort of, by the need to maintain the accuracy of the show's title after Mike was chucked from the show. But then the show lasted so long that Ernie eventually became a teen and the producers decided to add stepsister Dodie.
  • Justin on Power Rangers Turbo for a lot of fans. The hate has depleted somewhat due to his actor being a pretty cool guy and interacting with fans.
  • Gosei Sentai Dairanger with Ko fits, except he is a bit of a pervert and relies on his Empathic Weapon to help him out. In all fairness, Cousin Olivers were not uncommon in the original series and were arguably a useful proxy for the younger fans.
  • The diner in the Supernatural episode "Jump the Shark" is called Cousin Oliver's... and the plot is about a possible younger brother turning up. Subverted though, when it turns out that the character in question (Adam) was actually their half-brother, emphasis on "was" because he was already dead before the start of the episode. In season 5, the angels bring Adam back for a few episodes, in which he was actually useful to the plot. For one of these episodes, Sam, Dean, and Bobby play at the idea that he's family and act like they value him at least as much as (say) a close friend like Cas. Then they promptly forget about him. By the time season seven rolls around, nobody cares in the slightest that he's spent years being horrifically tortured by Lucifer and Michael (when given the chance to save him in season 6, Dean chooses Sam over him). Ultimately, this trope is subverted by laziness.
  • The Porters' foster child Declan in the last series of 2point4 Children. He also served as a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for the departing Jenny.
  • Played with in The X-Files in which one episode had a man who assumed this identity because he associated with the original Cousin Oliver. A person who is unloved.
  • Oliver replaced Jeff in Coupling. Considering how the Trope Namer is Cousin Oliver, it could be done as a parody. However, in one episode after season 3, Jeff is actually removed from a clip of a dinner party.
  • April on Gilmore Girls. Even more annoying in that she is a science-and-math-oriented version of Rory in response to viewer complaints that they missed the younger Rory. Rory had great taste in music which kept her from being a total loser, April was all nerd with very few (if any) redeemable traits. She also was the source of major tension in Lorelai and Luke's relationship, which didn't endear her to the viewers any.
  • Done in The Donna Reed Show when the family adopts a homeless child after their eldest daughter leaves for college.
  • In Blossom, when Carol moves in with Nick, we're introduced to her little daughter Kennedy. Blossom and her brothers had a good relationship with her, but fans of the show didn't.
  • Jamal's younger cousin Casey on Ghostwriter.
  • Gloria on Touched by an Angel is an unusual example - her actress Valerie Bertinelli turned 41 just days before her character's first episode, late in Season Seven, aired. But being a newly-created angel she is a Blank Slate, requiring the guidance of Monica in particular. By this time Monica was well-versed in the business of helping mortals, so there had to be another angel whose naivete could cause problems on an assignment. While Monica remained the central character, Gloria got occasional B-plots, such as befriending the angel guarding the Ark of the Covenant while Monica talks an archaeologist out of revealing its location to the world. (The series lasted another two seasons, with its drop in ratings likely having more to do with it being moved back to Saturday nights than anything.)
  • Little Nicky in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, even though at least he wasn't a spotlight stealer, unlike most of those listed here.
  • Ricky, the kid next door who liked to sing with The Partridge Family (often seen as a Dueling Show to The Brady Bunch).
  • Arthur McArthur, also known as "the little fat kid", from Hey Dad..!.
  • Billie Jenkins was an extra witch added onto Charmed who came out of nowhere and became like a sister to the Halliwells.
  • iCarly
    • Gibby's younger brother Guppy was introduced around the time when Noah Munck started puberty (Guppy's even portrayed by Noah's real-life brother Ethan). However, he's in only five episodes.
    • Spencer's nemesis Chuck Chambers was Put on a Bus to military school in the final season, most likely due to Chuck's actor Ryan Ochoa having outgrown the role. Chuck's previously unseen and unmentioned younger brother Chip seeks revenge on Spencer. Though Chip only appears in one episode.
  • Dale from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Subverted in his final appearance in which he turns out to be a psychotic killer pushed to breaking point by a season of being treated like a screw-up and a kid. Though in their defense, he was a screw-up and a Manchild.
  • Sky, a late addition to the cast of The Sarah Jane Adventures, only appeared in the final three stories of the series as a regular before it was cancelled due to the death of its lead actress. Played straight in that Sky is not necessarily a Cousin Oliver in the sense of being an annoying addition, but she does qualify as far as being a young character added to a well-established cast that was growing older than their target demographic.
  • On Degrassi, Snake's never-before-mentioned godson, Connor, comes to live with him — conveniently right after his daughter goes away to college.
  • Adric in Doctor Who, although elements of the trope are averted in that the character was simply one of a long line of transient companions, and the series itself continued for a number of years afterwards. Plus Adric's final episode was one of the most dramatic send-offs for a character in the history of the series. He is definitely the series' number one Scrappy, but it was due to his holier-than-thou attitude and not his age... and his death changed a few minds about his Scrappydom.
  • Rose from Downton Abbey is a little older than the trope usually implies, but otherwise fits. Introduced out of nowhere in the final episode of series 3, she ends up being a Bratty Teenage Daughter who runs away from her chaperones, takes up with a married man, throws a tantrum when she gets caught, and generally makes a complete nuisance of herself. Her personality was due to having a tense relationship with her overbearing mother, who was in the process of a divorce from her father. Going to Downton was an escape for Rose. She matured in seasons 5 and 6 by taking up charity work and getting married.
  • For ER's fifth season, new medical student Lucy Knight joined the hospital staff, cast in the same Naïve Newcomer role that Carter had filled when the show premiered and receiving plenty of As You Know dialogue (part of a soft Retool meant to bring new viewers up to speed). Although her appearance didn't tank the show, she's still a very good example of this trope in that her appearance coincided with the show's first critically weak season, and her failure to catch on led to her being killed off a mere year and a half into her tenure. It's one of the few shows whose frequent use of this trope is actually necessary and realistic—as other medical students/residents would advance academically and graduate, it would be logical to bring in new ones—Gallant, Neela, etc. Even its final episode was the first day for a new doctor.
  • Ally McBeal: Ally's biological daughter appeared out of nowhere in season 5. You ask how a single female lawyer got herself an eleven-year-old kid? Why, from her donated ova.
  • Remington Steele introduced a rare adult version in the final season in the form of Jack Scalia, who joined the series at the 11th hour as an Indiana Jones-esque adventurer who becomes a romantic rival for Laura's affections. Although on the surface he doesn't seem to meet the criteria, the character had much of the same impact in terms of alienating the audience; many viewers were already upset that series star Pierce Brosnan had lost out on playing James Bond thanks to NBC unexpectedly renewing the series for a short six-episode season, so the series was adding insult to injury by adding the Scalia character.
  • Step by Step pulled a triple whammy. First they commit a Cousin Oliver with the introduction of baby Lilly in season 4. They then aged up baby Lilly to 5 years in the sixth season. And in season 7, there's also a Chuck Cunningham Syndrome with the disappearance of Brendan Lambert, who was the youngest child before Lilly's birth.
  • A Different World brought in no less than six of these for its new freshman/sophomore class at the beginning of what turned out to be its final season. Unfortunately, despite the fact that like ER, this would be necessary and logical as the older characters graduated and went on to graduate school/marriage/careers, true to form, the new characters failed to catch on and ratings plummeted until the show was canceled.
  • Two and a Half Men: Louis in Season 12 and to a lesser extent Charlie's long-lost daughter Jenny. Both of whom were brought in to replace Jake after he was written off the show.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has an inverted example with Frank Reynolds, with Danny DeVito joining a cast of actors who were in their twenties or thirties.
  • Forever Knight: in the third season the network wanted to make the show more appealing to younger audiences so they introduced a lot of "younger" and "hype" characters like vampire Vachón and his vampire friends who all look like younger versions of La Croix and Jannette.
  • Glee, similar to A Different World mentioned above, brought in new students in its later seasons as the original Glee Club members began graduating high school and moving on with their lives. But except for Unique, the "New" New Directions did not catch on with fans. After two seasons, they were Put on a Bus and another New New Directions was brought in. These kids were better-received than their predecessors, but by this point, the show was explicitly in its final season.
  • True Blood: The final two seasons spent a great deal of time focusing on the romance between Holly's teenage son Wade and Sheriff Andy's half-fae daughter Adilyn (technically less than a year old but aged up to a teenager).
  • Joe Pritchet in Modern Family is introduced as Jay and Gloria's new biological son after the seventh season of the show, right at the moment when Lily is entering puberty thanks to Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome. Cameron and Mitchell were looking for another child to adopt during the first seasons but the idea was dropped, although in some episodes of the tenth season, they are taking care of Cameron's nephew now that Lily is a teen.
  • Not even All in the Family of all shows was immune from this! As the ninth and final season introduces a 9-year-old distant relative named Stephanie Mills, who was abandoned on their doorstep after her father extorted some money. This was most likely done because while Gloria and Mike had a baby named Joey during Season 6 in a similar ratings ploy, they wanted somebody who was an actual character rather than a Living Prop. She was also a recurring character in Archie Bunker's Place.
  • Wonder Woman launched an Oliver gambit in season 3. "The Man Who Could Not Die" moved Diana Prince to the Los Angeles field office of the IADC and introduced T. Burton Phipps III, a wisecracking black kid who was inexplicably free to wander the halls of a federal agency unescorted and with impunity. Ultimately averted by the series not returning for season 4.
  • Strong Medicine: In the show's second-to-last season, Dr. Kayla Thornton joined the staff. Despite being an adult, she is clearly this, as a rookie physician as opposed to the more experienced ones.
    • In the last season, Dr. Dylan West joined the show. His high school sweetheart soon reappeared in his life, along with the teenage daughter he never knew existed.
  • On Blackish, there was the youngest child Devante despite Bow being pregnant with him in season 3 and more recently Kyra, a homeless teenager who was taken in by the family after Zoey left for college until her father Perry reappeared to regain custody of her.
  • Dr. Katie Herman, a Cameron Howe wannabe in the final season of Halt and Catch Fire, possibly counts as this.
  • Despite being an adult, Without a Trace's Elena is arguably this when she joins the cast in Season 4. Her daughter is a straighter example, even being the focus of an episode.
  • Sisters did an adult version of this as well, with a heretofore unknown fifth sister contacting the family in Season 4, and a more typical (though still older than normal) version in Season 6 when she becomes a foster mother to a street kid.
  • The George Lopez Show: Angie's niece Veronica moved in with the Lopez family around the time that Carmen was getting ready to head off for college. Veronica is actually a few years older than Carmen but is just as spoiled.
  • One Tree Hill: Haley and Nathan's son Jamie, who becomes part of the main cast from season 5 onwards absolutely reeks of this trope. Many fans criticized him for getting a disproportionate amount of screentime with his own subplots that took away time that could've been better spent on the adults, and for being far too unrealistically smart for his age, with Nathan and Haley treating him more like a young adult than a kid(including letting him give a speech at a wedding).
  • Specifically averted in the Sex and the City revival And Just Like That.... Cynthia Nixon said one of the things she's most proud of about the show is that they didn't "youthify" it by adding a 21-year-old niece, keeping the focus squarely on the main characters navigating life and relationships in their 50s.

    Puppet Shows 
  • It's a Big Big World: Riona, Snook's niece, joins the cast in Season 2 as a Token Mini-Moe and the co-host of the show. She is also the only child character in the show. Riona's arrival came at the cost of Madge, Wartz, and Ick being removed.
  • Sesame Street: In the late 90's and early 2000's, Baby Bear would occasionally be seen babysitting his baby (as in infant) cousin, who always garnered attention from other residents for how cute he was. Oh, and his name? Cousin Oliver. (This was before Baby Bear officially had his baby sister, Curly Bear.)

    Video Games 
  • Robots don't age, but Capcom added the rookie Axl, who acted all of 13 to the cast of Mega Man X7 to contrast with veterans X and Zero.
  • Joey MacAdoo, Samantha Pearce, and Arthur Chen in the Backyard Sports series, replacing the much more mature Jocinda Smith, Sally Dobbs, Kenny Kawaguchi, and Billy Jean Blackwood. Joey in particular is also maligned as a Creator's Pet.

  • Every once in a while an example comes along that defies the precedent, that's exactly what happened in Coming Up Violet. As many readers know, the primary shtick with Fur Will Fly was that Brad was the only human living in a world filled with furries. At least until Brad sets a whole mess of pan-dimensional aliens [like himself] free from a detention facility, but that's neither here nor there. The comic's sequel changes this dynamic by introducing Dawn, a young — and incredibly normal — teenage girl to the mix. However, rather than being resigned to the Scrappy Heap, the fans love her and she adds quite a bit of character to the cast — indeed, being an even bigger Fish out of Water than Brad ever was. (May overlap with the Suspiciously Similar Substitute.)
  • A "cousin Marliver" was discussed as being a possible new character in Marco & Marty, directly referencing this trope. His catchphrase would have been, "Who wantsa flan!"

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • In the second season of Action League NOW! (actually KaBlam!'s second season), the creators added in Quarky, a doll who was said to be Bill the Lab Guy's daughter. However, fans found her quite annoying (the creators answered this by taking her out during season 3).
  • American Dad!: Rogu appears to be this, despite only appearing in a few episodes. It doesn't prevent him from having fans.
  • The 14th season of Archer added Zara to the team. She's younger, vastly more competent and very smug. Her flawless characterization did nothing to win over the fanbase, especially since with this being the final season, all she was guaranteed to do was take precious screentime away from the established cast that could have been better invested into giving them conclusive arcs.
  • Batman:
    • Parodied and referenced in the The Animated Series episode "Baby Doll", where "Little Cousin Spunky", the new child star added for the last season of Baby Doll's sitcom, was also designed to resemble Cousin Oliver. (They even had Robbie Rist in the episode, though he voiced another character.) Also subverted in this episode — Robin watches the entire series trying to find clues; Spunky turns out to be the only enjoyable thing in the show... well, the only thing Robin liked, mostly because Baby Doll was his favored victim.
    • The Brave and the Bold: Bat-Mite calls the trope by name when summoning Ace the Bat-Hound during his attempt to make the show jump the shark and get cancelled in favor of something Darker and Edgier. Ambush Bug tells him that Ace is an accepted part of the mythos - only for Bat-Mite to explain he was talking about Ace's new sidekick, who is Scrappy-Doo in a mask.
      Ambush Bug: You fiend!
    • Bat-Mite himself in New Adventures, to the extent that he wrecks the series by spoiling the Batman/Robin dynamic and taking screen time away from the more worthy third wheel, Batgirl. Batman and Robin view him as a Sidekick Creature Nuisance.
  • Parodied on The Critic, when Duke attempted to add a cute kid with an endearing speech impediment to Jay's show to try to boost his ratings.
    Jay: Well, I find you "wepulsive" and "wepugnant"!
    Kid: [suddenly normal-voiced] Hey, that speech impediment shtick is copyrighted. You'll be hearing from my lawyers! [cute voiced] I mean, wawyers.
    • In Season Two, this was downplayed with Alice's 5-year-old daughter Penny, who was certainly adorable and precocious but had considerably less screen time and significance than Jay's 12-year-old son Marty.
  • The fifth season of Doug (and first season of the Disney incarnation) introduced Doug's new baby sister, Cleopatra "Dirtbike" Funnie, who was born in the second Christmas Episode. Unlike most examples, only a few episodes revolved around her.
  • Spoofed in Drawn Together with Strawberry Sweetcake.
  • Spildit of The Dreamstone qualifies to some degree. She has most of the traits, being younger, mischievous and rather obnoxious. She avoids disturbing the dynamic too much by only making the occasional appearance, however, and gains at least some positive cred for being about the only character to Throw the Dog a Bone for Sgt Blob and his men.
  • Bubba the Cave Duck from DuckTales became this so quickly, he was Brother Chucked straight after his introductory episodes.
    • Which was spoofed in the reboot DuckTales (2017) in an episode featuring a rebooted version of Bubba mostly as a cameo but discovered in the end as the ancestor of Scrooge. On the other hand, the reboot does have what some fans consider its own version of Cousin Oliver in such characters as Lena and Violet.
  • Poof, Cosmo and Wanda's son on The Fairly OddParents! Done again in season 9 (2013), with the addition of a fairy dog named "Sparky", and then done again, twice, in season 10 with Chloe and Crocker's nephew Kevin. You'd think after Sparky, they'd get the idea...
  • Referenced in the Family Guy episode "Emission Impossible", when Stewie fears that a potential new baby means he will be replaced, which results in a Brady Bunch-themed Cutaway Gag where Oliver amuses the family while Bobby is forced to stay in the garage.
  • In the 1993 special A Flintstone Family Christmas, Wilma offers to foster a juvenile delinquent named Stoney over the holidays, with Fred reluctantly trying to become a father figure to Stoney despite his criminal tendencies. This all happened in a future timeline where Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm got married, moved to Hollyrock, had twins, and were delayed coming home for Christmas, hence the apparent opening for a new child in the Flintstone residence. All of this was dropped by the following year's Flintstone Christmas Carol, with everyone back to their typical ages, long before Stoney (let alone the Rubble twins) were born.
  • The animated version of Godzilla (not that one) added a baby called "Godzooky". A bit of an aversion, as Godzooky was based on Godzilla's son Minilla, from the original films.
  • Inspector Gadget: Corporal Capeman added nothing to the series when introduced and his chemistry with the others is zilch.
  • Handy Manny: Flicker the flashlight is much younger than Manny or his other tools and unceremoniously dropped into the show partway through the second season. However, he’s significantly less annoying than most of the other Cousin Olivers out there.
  • Kim Possible: Season 4 introduced Ron's adopted Japanese younger sister Hana. Fortunately, she played an extremely small role (when she even appeared) outside of two episodes, so her existence did not significantly impact the tone of the show. It helps that both episodes are well-liked by the fanbase.
  • Kiara was an only cub in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, but in The Lion Guard she received a younger brother, the protagonist Kion.
  • Looney Tunes: Lola Bunny, although not a kid, was shoehorned into the lineage the same way a Cousin Oliver often is. They took it to the point of putting her baby self in Baby Looney Tunes... even though the gang first met her in Space Jam.
  • Spoofed in the Pinky and the Brain episode "Pinky and the Brain and Larry".
  • The Raccoons: Bentley was introduced around the second season. He was Ralph and Melissa's nephew (and a kid version of Bert), and his introduction had surprisingly almost zero repercussions among the fandom. (His debut appearance strangely had him referred to as Ralph's cousin.)
  • The Junior Ghostbusters (three kids that were "honorary" Ghostbusters) were introduced in the third season of The Real Ghostbusters push by the executives as a "strategy" to attract younger audiences.
  • In-Universe example in Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling, where a baby Fathead is added to The Fatheads. Rocko hates it because he's shocked by the sudden change in the status quo, but everyone else likes it— even Ed, who realizes that the baby Fathead represents his daughter and it helps him reconnect with Rachel once again.
  • Dil, and later Kimi, in Rugrats (1991). Kimi got it even worse than Dil did since most fans regarded the seasons after the second movie as the worst in quality by dumbing down the babies (even though they were already dumbed down after the hiatus return in 1997). Both of these characters were Cousin Olivers when the show was on, but now many fans accept the characters and like them equally as other characters.
  • Sam & Max: Freelance Police added a Gadgeteer Genius character, who was also a little girl, due to Executive Meddling insisting that they added a recurring female character to the show. Steve Purcell liked her but wanted her kept out of the series as much as possible due to fear of her messing up the dynamic between the two main characters, so while the fandom's feelings towards her are mixed, she's generally considered not to harm the show too much.
  • Scooby-Doo:
    • Scrappy-Doo. He is parodied in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, where when Daphne noticed his statue, Fred was quick to cut her off and mention that they promised that they would never speak about the incident ever again.
    • There's also Flim-Flam, the ethnic kid from The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, though it's possible he may have been added as some sort of company bet to see if they could actually create something more obnoxious than Scrappy-Doo. Also parodied in Mystery Incorporated when Daphne offhandedly mentions he received a 25-to-life prison sentence.
    • Scooby-Dum, who made appearances in The Scooby-Doo Show and The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour.
  • Sealab 2021: Sharko, Marco's illegitimate half-shark son, from the final season, is a spoof of this character type. The finale has him show up, only to get whacked by Shanks's 'Captain's Log' to cheers from the audience.
  • The Simpsons: The episode "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show" thoroughly parodied this trope. According to Word of God, an executive suggested the writers should add a new kid who had "the genius of Lisa but the attitude of Bart". In response, they made an episode where the Itchy and Scratchy cartoon gets a new character, Poochie. In the episode's story, Poochie was created to be a hip new character with "pizzazz". However, he does nothing funny in his first appearance and the audience immediately hates him. The in-universe creators of the Itchy and Scratchy cartoon quickly remove Poochie from the show ("I have to go. My planet needs me.") complete with a notice that he died on the way home. The episode also contains a further parody with Roy, a college-aged "cool guy" who is inexplicably living with the Simpsons family. Lisa even lampshades the aspect of adding a new character to boost low ratings just before Marge greets Roy for the first time.
  • The Smurflings were added in the fifth season of The Smurfs (1981). They are basically kid versions of the Smurfs; more accurately, Nat, Snappy and Slouchy were de-aged previous Smurfs, and Sassette was created by Gargamel like Smurfette. In the sixth season, they added a villainous kid, Scruple, as Gargamel's apprentice.
    • Then it was Nanny Smurf, an unexplained third Smurfette from Grandpa's time and her furry companion, Smoogle, introduced in the eighth season.
  • The "Fast Forward" season of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), which has the turtles travel to the future, introduces April and Casey’s Child Prodigy great-grandson Cody Jones. Doesn’t help that April and Casey were absent for the season, so fans ended up seeing him as a Replacement Scrappy for them.
  • Nibbles the grey mouse from Tom and Jerry is essentially this, though he doesn't seem to be widely hated for it. The fact that he only shows up in the occasional short may help.
  • Transformers:
  • We Bare Bears: Parodied in "Family Troubles", which reveals that Grizzly starred in a struggling Canadian sitcom as a cub until they tried to replace him with a new kid character: the hip, skate-boarding cousin Lorenzo.
  • A non-aging example, in season two of Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!, a girl named Daizy was introduced. The season two theme shoehorned her in.
  • This trope can be a variation on having a Kid Sidekick and is very prone to happen when a live-action series is turned into an animated one; this is usually done for Saturday morning TV or the local equivalent, so the thinking is that kids want to watch other kids involved with the heroes. A classic example is Emergency +4, in which the paramedics and fire-fighters from the show Emergency! were saddled with a bunch of four kids who got to chase the grown-ups around in a van labelled "+4". The network that commissioned the Star Trek animated series was reported to want to introduce a similar bunch of young "cadets" on the Enterprise. Thank Finagle Roddenberry said no... at least until TNG and the Creator's Pet Wesley.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Cousin Oliver Syndrome


The Trope Namer Explained

During a review of the Batman episode, Baby-Doll, Walter brings up a factoid that one of the characters is a parody of Cousin Oliver, explaining how the trope went down and even bringing up an Easter Egg of how the actor who played Cousin Oliver voiced one of the characters in the episode.

How well does it match the trope?

4.97 (36 votes)

Example of:

Main / CousinOliver

Media sources: