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Entertainment Below Their Age

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Looks like nautical nonsense is something Peter would wish.

"When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly."

If a character enjoys a TV show, book, movie, or toy marketed to a younger demographic which they've clearly outgrown, the audience may be scratching their heads in confusion. On the upside, works primarily intended for children tend to attract a demographic of adults or adolescents due to clever writing, unique animation, likable characters, Parental Bonuses, and other material they would have paid little attention to as a young child due to a short attention span and undeveloped mind. On the downside however, this could be an attempt to portray a character as immature or stupid, especially if the work is geared to toddlers and preschoolers. Their enjoyment of this series can be a sign that they're a Kiddie Kid/Manchild or Cloudcuckoolander. However, there are occasions where this is just used as a one-shot gag Played for Laughs and never brought up again. The work is usually a Show Within a Show parody of a Real Life work, especially in children's works where copyrighted names are less frequently appearing.

If the character is otherwise mature to the extent of an Only Sane Man, their low-key enjoyment of a children's work could be a Hidden Depth to show they're Not So Above It All.

For the inverse, when characters (mainly children) enjoy a work intended for older audiences, see Entertainment Above Their Age.

Sub-Trope of Periphery Demographic. Can be deconstructed and subverted by Animation Age Ghetto, Subverted Kids' Show, What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?, or What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?. For real-life people who have goofy tastes, see One of Us.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Doraemon: Nobita and The Space Heroes, Nobita (a fifth-grader) is a fan of a toku show whose target audience is children half his age. What's even better is that Doraemon himself is revealed to be a fanboy too.
  • Hajime and Nene, from New Game!, openly love tokusatsu shows like Insect Five and Magical Girl anime like Moon Ranger, the latter explicitly noted to be aimed at little girls. Hajime even blows most of her pay on toys from these and other shows, leaving her constantly flat broke. Hifumi is a more closeted case, but is shown to be a big Moon Ranger fan herself.

    Asian Animation 
  • BoBoiBoy: In "Fan Mail", one of the fan letters is from Ahmad Kassim bin Abu Kassim, the father of one of the previous fans who had sent a letter. This person is immediately commented upon by Probe and Computer as the series is for children.
    Probe: Hmm, a fifty-five year-old fan of BoBoiBoy?
    Computer: Sounds like this old man is young at heart!

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Cookie: Although she is very intelligent, Beauty's favourite TV show is Sam and Lily in the Rabbit Hutch, which is for very young children. Her mother, Dilly, also likes it.
  • Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World: June is a fan of the children's books Ivy's mother writes and illustrates, and even notes "they're for younger kids".
  • From The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole:
    Came home from school early with a severe migraine (missed the Comparative Religion test). Found my father watching Play School and pretending to be an acorn growing into an oak. Went to bed too shocked to speak.
  • Manimal Crackers: An accidental example appears when Jessica Rothenberg tries to entertain Simon MacCorkindale by showing him Monty Python, but due to her mother using it to tape VeggieTales instead, she accidentally shows him The Wonderful World of Auto-Tainment instead. As it turns out, not only does he not mind, but finds the show to be quite charming. His favorite character on the show is Archibald Asparagus, for obvious reasons.note 
  • C. S. Lewis addresses this in the dedication of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:
    My dear Lucy, ... you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Big Bang Theory: The main guys, particularly Sheldon, get hit with this the most, due to the juxtaposition of their incredible intellects with their manchild tendencies and interests in superheroes, collecting action figures, cosplay, and such. However, all of the main characters have moments of this, and the changing cultural opinion towards nerdy things during the series run made this get downplayed over time:
    • Sheldon calls Penny out in "The Nerdvana Annihilation" as a hypocrite for calling the guys' interests childish when she herself still keeps stuffed animals in her apartment and wears Hello Kitty lounge shorts.
    • Neuroscientist Amy has a deep fondness for the Little House on the Prairie children's books, to the extent of writing self-insert fanfics and getting a themed birthday around the series.
    • All three of the women play hooky from work to go to Disneyland and get princess makeovers in one episodenote .
  • Doctor Who:
    • The original incarnation of The Master was shown in "The Sea Devils" to be strangely fascinated by The Clangers, whistling along with them and joking about "a rather interesting alien lifeform". This got a Call-Back in "The Sound of Drums" when the Simm Master was similarly intrigued by Teletubbies.
    • In "The Rings of Ankhaten", the Doctor's Newspaper-Thin Disguise when spying on young Clara is The Beano Summer Special.
  • Full House: Joey loves cartoons, especially Hanna-Barbera ones like Yogi Bear. He can do quite good impressions of characters.
  • Good Luck Charlie: PJ, age 17, is a fan of The Gurgles, a singing group and TV show of the same name for toddlers.
  • Lizzie McGuire: The episode "Lizzie and Miranda's Magic Train" shows that Lizzie and Miranda secretly still love their favorite childhood show, The Magic Train, a preschool show about a group of people dressed in animal costumes singing songs to small children. They become eager to see them perform live once they hear their band is coming to town. Deconstruction comes into play when Alpha Bitch Kate Sanders sees the duo of friends at their concert and makes fun of them for going there alone, while Kate was only there to chaperone her little cousin. Lizzie takes a stand towards the end when she tells the entire school that Clover and Daisy, the two protagonists of The Magic Train, can teach them a lesson in loyalty and confidence, ending the episode with the entire school (sans Kate) joining in a musical cover of a dorky song from the show expressing pride in silliness.
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Zach, a college student, is a fan of PAW Patrol and claims to quote the show to calm himself down.
  • Babylon 5: B5 Chief of Security Michael Garibaldi is shown several times to enjoy Looney Tunes cartoons. At one point Ambassador Mollari asks Zack if a picture of Daffy Duck on Garibaldi's wall is "one of his household gods", and Zack fibs that it's "the Egyptian god of frustration".
    Mollari: Hm. Suits him.
  • Smallville: According to Lois Lane, Clark Kent has a Tweety Bird nightlight well into high school, implying his love of Looney Tunes. This is a reference to the fact that Superman is a DC Comics property, which is owned by Warner Brothers, who also own Looney Tunes.

  • An Old Master Q strip sees the titular character (who's at least in his fifties, emphasis on old) rushing home from work, taking a quick shower, and eager to catch the late-night channel... a kid's cartoon.

    Video Games 
  • Takane Shijou from THE iDOLM@STER is 17 in the first vision games and 18 in the second vision games, but loves to watch shows intended for preschoolers.
  • I Was a Teenage Exocolonist: Nomi-Nomi is at odds with their Heliopause peers in part beacause they still enjoy entertainment they were expected to outgrow a good few years ago. A recurring pattern in dialog choices that will lose any existing frienship with Nomi-Nomi is suggesting that they are too old for the entertainment they turn out to be enjoying.
  • Planescape: Torment: It's possible to purchase a small, articulated figurine of a Modron at one of the stores in the game. While it's actually used to access the Bonus Dungeon, you can also choose to have The Nameless One play with it like a small kid with an action figure. Not only will they express joy at vanquishing imaginary foes with it, Morte will become jealous if he sees you playing with it and ask for a turn. The game gently lampshades this - play with it enough and your Character Alignment will begin to push towards Chaotic due to the sheer silliness.
  • In The Sims 4, Sims with the childish trait enjoy watching kids' TV and playing with toys.
  • Undertale: Despite being old enough to hold a steady job, Papyrus's favorite book is Peekaboo with Fluffy Bunny.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • American Dragon: Jake Long: In one episode, Trixie mentions that Spud's favorite show is Mr. Piggy's Playhouse.
  • Animaniacs: The episode "Babysitter's Flub" shows that Pinky is a fan of the children's music group The Groggles, which is a parody of The Wiggles.
  • Arthur:
    • In the episode "That's a Baby Show!", Arthur becomes addicted to a Teletubbies spoof called "The Love Ducks". As the title of the episode implies, he fears judgment from his friends for liking a "baby show", and when he finally admits to watching it, they initially mock him before giving the show a chance - and they end up getting addicted too!
    • In the episode "The Squirrels", Arthur and Buster are scared after watching a squirrel-based parody of The Birds. Trying to work through their fear, they rent a bunch of preschool aged cartoons about squirrel characters (and even D.W. lampshades that the cartoons are too kiddy even for her). The owner of the video rental store also comments that this happens every time The Squirrels airs on TV, that countless kids end up clearing him out of any squirrel cartoons for the same reason (albeit with the excuse that they're doing homework over squirrels).
  • In the Bob's Burgers episode "The Equestranauts", Tina is a fan of the eponymous magical talking horse adventures show, and she and her dad are equally surprised to find there's a massive following of adult male fans who call themselves "Equest-icles".
  • Invoked in The Buzz on Maggie episode "The Flyinator", where Maggie and Rayna sneak into the titular R-rated horror movie. While Maggie stays throughout the movie to endure the trauma, Rayna is too scared to continue watching it and runs into the theater that's showing The Prancing Princess, a princess movie for toddlers, to watch it instead, singing along with the theme song and collecting the merchandise. At the end, Maggie's older brother Aldrin is shown secretly playing with a Prancing Princess doll while his family isn't looking, only for it to turn out to be little brother Pupert's doll over which he's fighting him for.
  • Camp Lazlo: Scoutmaster Lumpus prefers to watch "Mr. Cotton Goes to Bubbleland", a movie made for young kids, over horror movies.
  • Family Guy:
    • In "You Can't Do That on Television, Peter!", Peter gets into the preschool show Jolly Farms when stuck watching over Stewie.
    • In "Road to Rupert", Peter annoys Meg while she's driving and watches SpongeBob SquarePants (see the page image above).
  • The Loud House: Clyde McBride, age 11 or 12, is a fan of Blarney the Dinosaur (a parody of Barney the Dinosaur), which is meant for a preschool demographic.
  • In The Owl House episode "Any Sport in a Storm", it's revealed that The Good Witch Azura (much like The Owl House itself) is written for ages 6 to 11. Luz and Amity, the only two fans of the series seen in the show, are both 14 years old. While Luz at the very least is shown to have been following the series since she was in the target demographic, it would have been impossible for Amity to have started reading it any earlier than when she was 12.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Fifteen-year-old Candace has been a fan of Ducky Momo since she was little. The one time the audience get to see Ducky Momo for themselves, it's a blatant parody of real-world preschool shows in general, and the kind of Fake Interactivity seen in shows like Dora the Explorer in particular.
  • Ready Jet Go!: Dr. Skelley likes the Show Within a Show Commander Cressida, just like her daughter Sydney.
  • The Recess episode "Bonky Fever" centers on Mikey turning 10, and realizing that Growing Up Sucks because his mom won't be there to accompany him at the bus stop anymore. In a regressive attempt to hold on to his childhood longer, Mikey develops an obsession with Bonky the Dinosaur (a parody of Barney & Friends). This is a Compressed Vice, as he grows out of it once he realizes he doesn't have to act childish to retain his childhood, and that he still has a long way to go to grow up.
  • Robot Chicken has a sketch where a teenage girl's father gets addicted to Inuyasha, an anime aimed at teenagers. Towards the end of the sketch, he also gets hooked on Gossip Girl (2007).
  • Rugrats:
    • In "At the Movies", the whole family goes to the theater to watch the latest "Dummi Bears" movie. The children (and Grandpa Lou) lose interest quickly, while the rest of the adults become enraptured. Stu in particular is distraught when the film is disrupted and they never get to find out if Little Shauna survives.
    • In another episode, they go to see a Reptar On Ice show (with a very cheesy Romantic Plot Tumor). The kids go off in search of Reptar, Didi and Stu fall asleep, and Grandpa actually gets into it.
    • In "Dummi Bear Dinner Disaster", the adults visit the Carmichaels when the creator of the show, Paul Gatsby, is over for dinner. The poor man spends the whole dinner fielding questions about the show by the enrapt adults. When Chas admits to being sick with worry when "Jelly Bear caught the gloomies", he finally explodes with, "What is wrong with you people???"
    • In "Looking for Jack", the mafia boss Jack Montello is revealed to be an obsessed Dummi Bears fan, which is what convinces him to take Charlotte and the kids to a Dummi Bears concert.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The episode "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken" shows that Milhouse still watches Teletubbies at the age of 10 and even wears Teletubby underwear.
    • In "Rosebud", Homer is briefly shown watching Barney the Dinosaur and enjoying it.
    Homer: Heh-heh-heh! I can see why this is so popular!
    • In "The Book Job", Milhouse is shown to be a fan of Barney and Friends and is upset when a dinosaur show he attends is not similar to that series, throwing his Barney doll onto the stage in reaction.
    • In "The Color Yellow", Ralph Wiggum, an elementary schooler, is shown to be a fan of Sesame Street when he presents a drawing of a dream he had where he had a party with Elmo and Buzz Lightyear.
  • A minor Running Gag on South Park has Butters loving things for preschoolers—he auditions to join a boy band Cartman and the gang formed with "Little Bunny Foo-Foo," loves to play pretend by imagining himself as different characters like "Detective Butters," and is often seen humming kiddie songs to himself for fun. It's weaponized in the "Imaginationland" trilogy when Butters's big imagination gives him Reality Warper powers in the titular world.
  • Squirrel Boy: The episode "I, Stan Corrected" features a gag of The Bully Kyle watching a toddler sing-along videotape with a song called "Licking Lollies" which repeats the title in the chorus thrice followed by an "I love you!", which Kyle starts singing along to while wearing a lollipop costume.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: A running gag in "First First Contact" is that Ensign Boimler is over-the-moon excited to celebrate the upcoming "Captain Freeman Day", and is not deterred in the slightest whenever somebody reminds him that the event is primarily a crafting day for toddlers.
  • An episode of X-Men: Evolution has a scene in the Brotherhood's hideout, where two of their members, the teenagers Blob and Toad, are shown watching a Powerpuff Girls Captain Ersatz cartoon while having breakfast.


Video Example(s):


The Love Ducks

In "That's a Baby Show!", Arthur becomes addicted to a Teletubbies spoof called "The Love Ducks", skipping "Dark Bunny". As the title of the episode implies, he fears judgment from his friends for liking a "baby show", but when he finally admits to watching it, they don't mind (not shown here).

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / EntertainmentBelowTheirAge

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