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Entertainment Above Their Age

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Lori Loud: No, my point is, since when has Lola seen The Godfather?! She's seven!
Lola Loud: There's a lot you don't know about me, Lori.

Sometimes in fiction, children don't just settle for reading books, watching TV and movies, playing video games, etc. that's meant for them. They also take in works (whether real or made-up) that are intended for people much older than them and, in spite of everything, they end up enjoying them.

Sometimes this is meant to show that the kid is a Child Prodigy, Wise Beyond Their Years, or an Adorably Precocious Child, especially if they read old, famous books like Of Mice and Men or Crime and Punishment. On the other hand, sometimes it overlaps with Troubling Unchildlike Behaviour and signifies a Creepy Child or Nightmare Fetishist, especially if the work is very sexual or violent. On the other hand, if they watch horror movies that aren't really that terrifying, they might simply be an Unabashed B-Movie Fan.

Sometimes if the work of fiction the child consumes is very serious or adult, the child will not know what's going on and make Innocent Inaccurate assumptions. Other times, they know perfectly well what's going on and may have Hidden Depths. Either way, they might say something From the Mouths of Babes. It can also indicate that the parents are Permissive Parents, or are neglectful or irresponsible.

Either way, it can be Played for Laughs. Music/Age Dissonance is a sub-trope. Compare Age-Inappropriate Art and Nightmare Fuel Colouring Book for when children make art that's above their age level, Kids Shouldn't Watch Horror Films for when a child tries to watch an adult (horror) movie but gets scared off, and What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?, Parent Service, Demographic-Dissonant Crossover, Defanged Horrors, and Demographically Inappropriate Humor for when a work is for kids, but has some adult-seeming content. If it's a video game, it can overlap with Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000, with Parental Bonus if the work actually exists, and if the work the kid consumes is more adult than the actual work, with Family-Friendly "Mature" Content. Sub-trope of Periphery Demographic. Contrast Kiddie Kid, who may invert this trope.

For the inversion occurring when adults, teenagers, pre-teens, or older children enjoy works intended for a younger demographic, see Entertainment Below Their Age.

This trope is Truth in Television. You'll find plenty of children who will declare their love for works not made or even inappropriate for them, especially after the increase of usage of The Internet where they'll find plenty about such works and if the works look kid-friendly. The fruit is forbidden, after all.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • 10-year-old Ryoko Yoshida in The Demon Girl Next Door combines this with Troubling Unchildlike Behaviour — she reads war manuals and books about weapons for fun.
  • Downplayed in Lucky Star; 17-year-old Otaku Konata is shown to enjoy H-Games, which are meant for mature audiences of 18 and older. It's frequently lampshaded by other characters how she's not quite old enough to be playing those games, and once Konata turns 18 she expresses excitement over being able to buy them herself (as opposed to just borrowing from her dad, who's quite the otaku himself).
  • Yo-kai Watch: In episode 6, Nate, Bear, and Eddie try to watch shows on a channel that Whisper says is for "mature audiences only" (Jibanyan even notes that it contains "scantily-clad women"), but Signibble keeps interfering by turning off the TV.
  • In the anime of Yu-Gi-Oh!, the first episode sees Seto Kaiba attending the same school Yugi, Jonouchi/Joey, Honda/Tristan, and Anzu/Tea all attend, and a brief shot sees him reading Also sprach Zarathustra while the main group discuss Duel Monsters.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • Big Nate:
    • Nate (who is eleven) is a fan of the comic series Femme Fatality, which is about the eponymous attractive superheroine. His dad Marty notes that it's quite violent and suggestive.
    • In one strip, Nate and his friend, Teddy, are discussing movies and both agreed Dumb and Dumber to be their favorite film... just as resident nerd Francis (who is only the same age as them) strolls by. When Nate comments, "bet Francis doesn't have a favourite film", Francis retorts that his favorite is Casablanca, one of the "all-time best classics".
      Nate: You mean the one with animals going to Africa?
      Francis: NO, that's Madagascar!
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Six-year-old Calvin frequently tries to watch adult movies (such as the time he and Hobbes attempt the Totem Pole Trench trick so they can watch Vampire Sorority Babes in a theater), though most of his attempts to watch them are unsuccessful. One time he actually succeeds in doing so is during one arc; after he locks Rosalyn out of the house, he and Hobbes watch movies that they're not allowed to watchnote  until his parents and Rosalyn burst in.
    • In one strip, Calvin watches a show while he's sick in bed. Judging by the dialogue (a man and a woman admit they're cheating on their spouses and agree to murder them so that they can be together), it's pretty mature, and Calvin comments that he sometimes feels like he learns more when he stays home from school.
    • One strip has Calvin order an album from a band called Scrambled Debutante. In his words, their songs focus on "depraved violence, mindless sex, and the deliberate abuse of dangerous drugs." Hobbes lampshades this by pointing out that his mother would flip out if she saw it laying around. Calvin then reveals (as he's throwing away the actual record) that he bought it specifically for her reaction.
    • In a later strip, Calvin asks his mother if he can purchase "a Satan-worshiping, suicide-advocating heavy metal album." Rather than get upset, she points out that it's all an act—"The fact that these bands haven't killed themselves in ritual self-sacrifice shows that they're just in it for the money like everyone else"—and encourages him to seek out genuinely subversive art rather than buy into what Calvin dubs "mainstream commercial nihilism."
  • Peanuts: All over the place. Linus frequently quotes the Bible and is a fan of Citizen Kane (this one must run in the family; a later strip shows Rerun watching the film and Lucy attempting to spoil it before Linus intervenes), Schroeder refuses to play any music except Beethoven, Marcy has quoted Shakespeare on multiple occasions, and Charlie Brown has read War and Peace. The last one was a school assignment but is still far above Charlie Brown's age level.
  • FoxTrot:
    • In one series of strips, fourteen-year-old Paige is revealed to have seen R-rated films such as Indecent Proposal and Basic Instinct, which results in her getting grounded by Andy. When Peter questions how she could even be let in the theater (in comparison, he gets busted every time despite being sixteen), Paige reveals that she makes kissy lips at the cashiers.
      • Another strip has Paige and Nicole tell Andy that they plan to see The Patriot (2000). Andy immediately forbids them from doing so.
    • In another series of strips, Paige watches a trashy talk show called "Jerzy Spaniel" while babysitting, since Andy outlawed watching the show at their house. Unfortunately, the show contains profanities, and the two-year-old girl Paige is babysitting happens to hear one of these words...
    • Ten-year-old Jason, being a huge nerd, likes to watch Game of Thrones, much to Andy's chagrin.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Invoked in the first movie. Greg lures Manny into reading Rodrick's magazine Moto Mamas by putting a Tootsie Roll in Rodrick's backpack so that he can get Rodrick in trouble.
  • In the opening scene of Dr. Who and the Daleks, Susan, the 11-year-old granddaughter of a genius scientist, is reading a college-level physics textbook.
  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife: Mr. Grooberson, rather than teach a bunch of apathetic summer school kids, puts on The '80s horror movies like Cujo for them to watch. This could be a reference to the fact that the original Ghostbusters (1984) was itself an adult horror comedy that kids watched nonetheless.
  • As in the book, Matilda is an avid reader of classic novels despite being six-and-a-half for most of the film. This leads to a very funny scene - not in the booknote  - where her father catches her reading Moby-Dick ("Moby WHAT?") and leaps to the conclusion that it's a dirty book, so he tears out all the pages and burns it.
  • Men in Black features a shoot/no-shoot pistol test for potential MIB agents, with cardboard cutout figures as targets in a ghetto setting. The future Agent J passed by only shooting the target shaped like an 8-year-old girl carrying a Quantum Physics textbook. This, despite other targets being dangerous-looking aliens. His logic was that any child out late at night in the ghetto with such advanced texts was not actually a child and up to no good.
  • Sleepless in Seattle:
    • 8-year-old Jonah is able to freely talk about his father's sex life because he "watches cable", and listens to The Beatles with his young friend Jessica. Subverted in that he wasn't allowed to watch Fatal Attraction.
    • Jessica herself gets really emotional over An Affair to Remember after learning about it from Annie's letter.

  • Angela Nicely: In “Matchmaker!”, Maisie (a six-year-old girl) compares Mr. Weakly to James Bond.
  • In Deenie, Janet and Midge take Deenie into the city for a girls' trip. One of the activities that they hoped to do was to go see an X-rated movie, but the trope is subverted when the clerk at the adult movie theater refuses to sell the girls tickets when they cannot prove that they are of age.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid:
    • "Old School" sees Manny, who is only three years old, requesting The Hobbit as a bedtime story (though it's implied that he mainly just wanted to stall going to bed).
    • In "The Ugly Truth", it's mentioned that Greg's younger cousin Benjy (who is either a toddler or a baby) is already reading chapter books. Greg comments that he wouldn't be impressed if his kid could read, but still wasn't potty-trained.
  • Discworld: In both Hogfather and Thief of Time, Susan encourages this in her charges, on the grounds that books that are too old for them are inherently more interesting, and will therefore help them discover the joy of reading. Gawain's consumption of the campaigns of General Tacticus, for example, means he can now use the word "disembowel" in conversation.
  • Gangsta Granny: Discussed; Ben's mother wonders if he's hiding a "naughty magazine" under his bed. Ben's only eleven.
  • I've Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level has Falfa and Shalsha, two mentally and physically eight-year-old (but chronologically in their fifties) slime spirits who regularly read books that adults would find tedious and/or challenging for fun. For example, during Halkara's introductory chapter, they read a thick nonfiction volume about the military mistakes of an elven general that led to the severe weakening of his kingdom.
  • Johnny Maxwell Trilogy: In Only You Can Save Mankind, Kirsty, aged twelve, calls herself "Sigourney" when she's fighting aliens and Johnny, also aged twelve, gets the reference.
  • Matilda: When the eponymous brainy, five-year-old girl reads all the kids' books in the library, she starts reading adult books, including Nicholas Nickleby.
  • In Oreimo, Kirino, a teenager in middle school, loves to play little sister-themed H-games.
  • Pondovadia:
    • The main trio, all twelve-year-olds, go to a murder mystery dinner for one of their birthdays. Everyone else on the mystery dinner is a college student, and the kids lie about their age.
  • Skulduggery Pleasant: By age twelve, Stephanie Edgely was already an avid fan of her uncle Gordon's adult horror novels. Since Gordon's stories were mostly based on the exploits of real sorcerers, Skulduggery sometimes uses Gordon's books to help explain certain magical concepts to Stephanie.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Gilmore Girls:
    • Teenaged Rory Gilmore not only reads above her age level (including Tolstoy and other obscure Russian poetry), but also shares many of her mother's interests in entertainment, such as The Donna Reed Show (albeit ironically).
    • Jess Mariano, despite his bad grades, bonds with Rory in part because of their shared interest in reading, such as Hemingway and Salinger.
  • Glee:
    • Teenaged Rachel Berry's role models are Patti Lupone and Barbra Streisand. This is partly due to her gay dads giving her the middle name "Barbra" and raising her on musicals, but Rachel's driving ambition to be a Broadway star brings her love of musicals and similar media up to an 11 (though she does listen to and sing more modern numbers as well).
    • Kurt Hummel, likewise, also tends to have mature tastes in fashion and music, referencing Alexander McQueen and performing a 1960s Judy Garland/Barbra Streisand duet with Rachel.
  • Corner Gas:
    • Subverted in "Oh, Baby". Brent tries and fails to scare Wanda's bratty son Tanner by pretending to be Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger, causing Brent to realize that a six-year-old probably hasn't seen many slasher flicks. Played straight when a later scene establishes that Tanner is familiar with the Austin Powers movies, because Brent has to explain the difference between Mike Myers and Michael Myers.
    • In "Trees a Crowd", Brent and Hank take back their old treehouse from some rude preteens. Hank is later seen reading an issue of The Walking Dead that the kids left behind.
  • In an episode of Criminal Minds, a flashback scene shows profiler Spencer Reid recalling that as a child, he once brought his mother a copy of Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust for her to read to him. She, knowing he was a child prodigy, merely complimented him on his choice.
  • Full House: In "Silence is Not Golden", Charles tells Stephanienote  that she should think of a funny movie like Who Framed Roger Rabbit to distract herself from being beaten by her father Danny, revealing that he has an abusive father and he expects Danny to do the same.
  • Mad About Alice: In "Alice's Restaurant", Joe wants to see Revenge of the Robots, despite being both only 9 and the movie being 15 and above. While Alice refuses to let him see it, however, Doug does, and Joe ends up both enjoying it and wanting to see its sequel.


    Puppet Shows 

  • Bertolt Brecht deliberately invoked this trope by inviting young children to rehearsals for his pieces, which deal with such themes as war, religion, rape, and existential crises. His main goal was to make sure the show was working—Brecht's philosophy was that the images and action of theatre should tell a story without words, so if the kids (who didn't understand the adult ideas being discussed) became confused by what was happening onstage, he knew that it was unclear and thus made changes.


    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • GoAnimate:
    • In various videos, the troublemaker-of-the-day (who is normally an Enfant Terrible) wants to see a movie for adults, so they'll sneak into a theater to watch it, only to get busted by their parents.
    • Sometimes, a troublemaker watches some adult show (i.e. Family Guy) and their parent comes in, shuts off the TV, and promptly grounds them for it.
    • Zigzagged in "(Character) Brings an NC-17 Rated Film to School" videos. Sometimes the character who brings an NC-17 rated movie to school has a Vague Age or is an adult who's still in school, but they're often a child. In those same videos, another classmate will bring an R-rated or PG-13 rated film for Movie Day, resulting in them getting a warning or being sent to detention (or worse).
  • The Most Popular Girls in School:
    • In episode 8, Mackenzie, Brittnay, and Rachel are shown to have liked The O.C. when they were in the third grade.
    • In episode 60, during a flashback, Mackenzie, Rachel, and Shay (who were in the third grade at the time) talk about Mean Girlsnote  and seem to like the movie.
    • In episode 33, Mrs. Zales mentions that Katelynn (who's seven) watches Dragon's Den with her. Katelynn then says she likes Mr. Wonderful. In the same episode, Mikayla (who is only nine) recites a monologue from Beasts of the Southern Wild during a pageant.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: Jimmy and his friends want to buy a game called Doom Bringer II, which is apparently "for mature players only due to violence, exaggerated mayhem, and old lady kicking." The plot is kickstarted when the cashier denies their purchase because they're too young, prompting Jimmy to try and make them all older. Later on, the trio, now seniors, go to the store and get weird reactions when they buy the same game.
  • Arthur:
    • Discussed in "Nerves of Steal", when Buster has a Guilt-Induced Nightmare after shoplifting a toy, in which his friend Francine mentions that she read Crime and Punishment over the summer. Both Buster and Francine are eight years old.
    • In "Revenge of the Chip", four-year-old D.W. wants a book about macroeconomics from the library read to her (despite forgetting what the book's about) to prove she's mature.
    • In a promotional song, the Brain, who is only about eight or nine, reads The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It gives him nightmares about being Dr. Jekyll, but he still enjoys the book.
    • In "Arthur Makes a Movie", Arthur and his friends want to see the newest James Hound movie note , but since they’re only eight and the movie is rated PG-13, their parents ban them from watching it. Prunella is still allowed to see it, though, despite being only a year older.
  • Bob's Burgers:
    • A couple of episodes suggest that Gene and Louise, who are eleven and nine respectively, have been secretly watching Game of Thrones. In "An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal", Gene lists "Season premiere of Game of Thrones" among the holidays the kids like more than Thanksgiving, much to Bob's confusion. In "The Gayle Tales", Louise's story is a blatant parody called Gayle of Thrones, though when Bob questions if she's actually watched Game of Thrones, Louise pretends she's never even heard of it.
    • In many Halloween Episodes, Louise's costumes of choice are characters from PG-13 and R-rated movies (Anton Chigurh), (Blade Bunner) and Peter Pan's Labyrinth.
    • In "The Handyman Can", Louise's story includes a reference to Mad Max: Fury Road. Bob is upset that she would watch such a violent movie, while she denies that she would even know how to stream that movie using Linda's account.
    • In "Interview With A Pop Pop Pire", Gene tells a story very similar to They Live!. When Bob notices this, Gene admits he watched it from the hallway after Bob told him to go to bed.
    • Gene routinely references films and shows that were popular (and aimed at adults) long before he was born. It's unclear if he understands the references though.
    • Subverted in "Drumforgiven", when Louise makes a threat likening herself to John Wick, but immediately clarifies that she hasn't actually seen the film:
      Louise: "Hey, quick question: you ever see John Wick? ... Well I'm John Wick, and Gene is my puppy. And you're those guys who did something to the puppy, I'm not sure what because I only saw the trailer, but I know enough about it to know that you are gonna pay. PAY!"
  • Danny Phantom: 16-year-old Jazz Fenton, who considers herself an adult in a teenager's body, is often seen studying psychology texts in her spare time. In addition, in "Pirate Radio", when the adults in town all become supernaturally brainwashed by a new easy listening radio station, Jazz is included as one of the victims.
  • Daria. Our titular character was reading well above her grade level even in elementary school. In high school, she's reading books one would usually see associated with college curriculum. And in fact, at one point has to explain several mistakes in a college paper about DH Lawrence to a college student, explaining that there was no apostrophe in the title Sons and Lovers. She even has a (brief) lucrative career writing essays for college students.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: In "Don't Be a Baby", Dexter and Dee Dee ask their parents for money so that they can watch an R-rated movie called Violance: Robot Vigilante!. Their parents turn this down, saying that they're too young for it.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
    • In "Urban Ed", Kevin can be seen reading a presumably-inappropriate magazine called Bikini Babes.
    • In "Luck of the Ed", Eddy is shown to have a stash of pin-up magazines that he got from his older brother.
    • Subverted in "Little Ed Blue". Ed is extremely cranky because he has a pebble in his shoe. Edd and Eddy try to find something to make him feel better and they find out that Ed keeps a magazine called Chicks Galore under his pillow. Then it's revealed that it's really just a magazine with pictures of baby chickens and Eddy is disappointed (and more than a little concerned) that it's not the kind of chicks he wanted.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: In one episode, Timmy learns to appreciate the Inkblot Cartoon Style of The Silent Age of Animation from his grandfather.
  • Family Guy: Stewie frequently engages in this. In "A Hero Sits Next Door", he attempts to read The Art of War (Sun Tzu) (only for Lois to take it from him) and he read East of Eden because he's in Oprah Winfrey's book club.
  • Gravity Falls: In "Summerween", Grunkle Stan, who refuses to buy candy for Gravity Falls's version of Halloween and scares away any trick-or-treaters who come, meets his match with two kids who say they have been watching horror movies since they were two years old, and thus cannot be scared away.
  • Kaeloo:
    • In "Let's Play at Reading Books", Quack Quack is shown reading a book with girls in skimpy outfits. Mr. Cat also wants that book, but Quack Quack refuses to give it to him, not even when Mr. Cat offers him loads of yogurt.
    • In one episode, Stumpy tells Kaeloo that he watches things that "aren't for kids his age" all the time, and Kaeloo is horrified for a minute until she looks at his laptop screen and realized that he was talking about watching knitting videos for old ladies.
  • The Loud House:
    • In "Stage Plight", 8-year-old Lucy, 6-year-olds Lana and Lola, 4-year-old Lisa, and 15-month-old Lily go watch a production of Romeo and Juliet. Justified because their older sister, 14-year-old Luan, is playing Juliet.
    • In one episode, six-year-old Lola mentions that she once saw a mob movie.
  • Ready Jet Go!: In "Treasure Map", Mitchell the Kid Detective reads Treasure Island. Mitchell is also shown to be a fan of Sherlock Holmes.
  • Roger Rabbit Shorts: While Baby Herman himself is an adult despite his babyish appearance, his character within these shorts is an actual baby. In "Roller Coaster Rabbit", after Herman has wandered off, Roger digs through his carriage and finds a magazine with a centerfold of Jessica Rabbit.
  • Rugrats: In "Angelica Breaks a Leg", when Stu is about to give Angelica (who is three years old) some chocolate pudding, she is watching what appears to be a war movie (or possibly an action movie or a cop show), judging by the explosions and gunshots that are heard from offscreen. She's also laughing raucously.
  • The Simpsons:
    • "Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment", when Homer gets an illegal cable hook-up, he leaves the Top Hat Channel (which is said to have a lot of erotic movies) on. Bart (who is only ten) watches it and loves it, so he charges the boys in the neighborhood to watch some stuff on it with him.
    • Zig-Zagged with Bart and Lisa's love of The Itchy & Scratchy Show; while it's marketed toward children in-universe and airs as part of the children's program The Krusty the Klown Show, it contains depictions of graphic violence harsh enough that one episode is slapped with a Content Warning, though it's unhelpfully placed after the episode airs. We then cut to Bart and Lisa laughing hysterically.
      The preceding program contained scenes of extreme violence and should not have been viewed by young children.
  • South Park:
    • Zigzagged; whether or not Terrance & Phillip is for kids depends on the episode, but either way, most children in South Park Elementary think it's a laugh riot (much to the dismay of the adults, especially Sheila).
    • In "Osama bin Laden Has Farty Pants", Kenny (who is one of the most perverted of the South Park Elementary kids) is shown to have several porn magazines in his schoolbag.
    • In "Passion of the Jew", Cartman (a fourth grader) becomes obsessed with Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of the Christ, to the point he forms a fan club it (noticeably, he's the one child in the fan club)
    • In "Make Love, Not Warcraft", Clyde is briefly seen reading a Playboy magazine.
    • Ike is only three and can barely talk, yet he likes to watch the news and once read several novels (all of which were written with adults in mind) over the course of one day.


Video Example(s):



No wonder these girls turned out the way they did if they were watching The OC in third grade...

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Main / EntertainmentAboveTheirAge

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