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Former Child Star

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"I didn't know what I was signing up for. I was three."
"He's a former child star?! Oh, just lock him up and throw away the jail!"
Bosco, Sam and Max: Culture Shock

Former Child Star = Current Life Mess.

Probably one of Hollywood's biggest Acceptable Targets, the Former Child Star is a celebrity whose career was at its peak in their formative years. Alas, such an unorthodox childhood can leave its mark on anyone (especially if they were Not Allowed to Grow Up), and it always does in fictional depictions of the Former Child Star. In adulthood, they may be a struggling actor who finds it hard to be taken seriously when everyone remembers them as "that one kid from that one show," if they're remembered at all.

It doesn't help that puberty is a fickle beast and there is no guarantee that a cute and adorable kid will have Hollywood looks as an adult. Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe may have matured nicely since their Harry Potter days, but there are countless others whose adolescent years weren't nearly as kind, making it that much harder to find acting work as adults.

As for those who left showbiz, many wind up mourning their glory days in a dead-end job, caught up in Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll, or (dis)gracing the covers of tabloids after a run-in with the law. Sadly, a case of Truth in Television, as the troubled biographies of some real-life Former Child Stars will show.

It should be noted that the worst examples of this trope in real life come from kids whose home lives were unstable to begin with: abusive, exploitative stage parents and/or a family history of addiction will make a child actor particularly vulnerable to the excesses of Hollywood. There are others who grew into relatively-normal adults, like Jodie Foster and Bill Mumy, because their parents took care to give them a stable upbringing under the circumstances.

No doubt Growing Up Sucks for them... especially if they're treated as though they never did.

May cross with Support Your Parents if the child actor's parents are financially supported by their child's fame.

A subtrope to No Celebrities Were Harmed. Compare White-Dwarf Starlet, an older version of this trope, as well as Hates the Job, Loves the Limelight. See also Horrible Hollywood. For other grown-up kids, see School Yard Bully All Grown Up and Kid Hero All Grown-Up.

This trope applies not only to theatre and motion picture, but also to several sports, such as gymnastics, and arts, such as ballet, where the athletes rise to the top very young and the career is likely to be short.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Double Subverted by Angela Carpenter from Carole & Tuesday, a former child actress who is actually coping fairly well with life after the peak of her fame. It's her attempt to get back into the limelight, spurred on by her Stage Mom and an unfeeling producer, that causes her to spiral into a burnt-out wreck, culminating in her collapsing on stage from a drug overdose.
  • Osaragi from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War was an outgoing and bubbly Child Popstar, but her mother's affair and not having the social skills to deal with her classmates' resentment led to a terrible and depressing time in middle school and turned her into the introverted cynic she is in the present.
  • Ojamajo Doremi:
    • Onpu Segawa was a wildly popular preteen Idol Singer whose successful career is constantly shown throughout the series. The Light Novel that takes place when the characters are in high school reveals that she now has trouble securing acting roles because she can't break away from her child star image.
    • Onpu's mother and manager Mio was this close to becoming a child star, but suffered an accident in an audition and couldn't go further. That led her to become Onpu's Stage Mom.
  • Kira Saeki of Shounen Hollywood is a particularly young example; he used to be a popular child actor on a daytime soap, but after he grew up and got off the show his audience as a member of Shounen Hollywood flocks to him for his former role. He's also become rather jaded concerning the entertainment industry, embarrassed of his old role, and a bit egotistical for letting his its fame get to his head.

  • George Tirebiter from The Firesign Theatre's album Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers used to star in the "Porgie and Mudhead" movies, a series of goofy teen comedies from The '50s that parody Archie Comics and The Aldridge Family.

    Comic Books 
  • Child Star, Box Brown's first fictional graphic novel, is about the child star of an '80s sitcom named Owen Eugene, whose life goes into a decline after the end of his show. The character is particularly inspired by Gary Coleman (he has a medical condition that makes him look much younger than he is for a long time) but also has elements of other notorious child actors.
  • Runaways features a group of former teen superheroes called Excelsior. Most of its members have essentially become the superhero equivalent of this trope, but special mention goes to Julie Power, who tried (and utterly failed) to parlay her status as a former member of Power Pack into an acting career. Happily, she later came out as bisexual, got her act together, became a teaching assistant at Avengers Academy, and dated Karolina Dean for a while before joining the Future Foundation. With the exception of Phil Urich, who went crazy thanks to the Goblin Formula and followed in the Goblin Legacy's footsteps, and Chris Powell, who followed in his father's footsteps and became a cop while having spurts of returning to heroics now and then, the rest of the team fell into obscurity.
  • In The Order (2007), before becoming a superhero, Rebecca "Becky" Ryan was a former child country star, with much of the attendant mental baggage.
  • Teen Titans: Beast Boy had a few forays into acting in his late childhood. By the time he grew up, however, his gimmick became phased out and he retired from acting. He doesn't really dwell on that, though, because being a hero comes with the bonus of positive public attention.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Seymour Cryder in Barbie As The Princess And The Pop Star used to be a child star, doing an act in a chipmunk costume; however, his career tanked when puberty hit. In the present, he manages Keira while scheming to bring his glory days back, going so far as to try and steal the jeweled gardenia plant that keeps Meribella's plant life alive so he can sell it.
  • "Baby" Brent in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. As a baby, he was the mascot of the town sardine cannery and has spent his entire life trading on his fame, down to wearing a diaper underneath his clothes.
  • The antagonist in Despicable Me 3, Balthazar Bratt, grew up to be obsessed with the character he played on TV in the '80s. As such, he moves and dresses like Michael Jackson, and his weapons mostly consist of modified '80s items, like exploding Rubik's cubes and wads of bubblegum that can trap whoever steps on them.
  • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish: Jack Horner used to perform his titular nursery rhyme to help sell his family's pies, but he became extremely jealous of other fairy tale creatures showing him up with magic. As a result, being reminded of his time as "Little Jack Horner" sends him into a jealous rage and gives him a mad lust for magic and power.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • "Baby Jane" Hudson, the title character of the 1962 film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. She was a child star of vaudeville in the 1910s. Decades later, she's a bitter, mentally disturbed alcoholic old woman, who still dresses like a little girl and is unable to accept that nobody even remembers her anymore.
  • The David Spade film Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star is about one of these characters trying to learn about "normal" family life from a typical suburban family in preparation for a role.
  • Jaleel "Steve Urkel" White played himself in the film Big Fat Liar, briefly showcasing his struggles as an adult actor when everyone remembers him as "that Urkel kid".
  • Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle had Real Life Former Child Star Neil Patrick Harris, although playing a far more dysfunctional version of himself than actually exists. This ironically led to a revival in Harris' career.
  • Main antagonist Sweet Pete in Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022). Once the carefree Peter Pan, he was tossed aside by the film industry after puberty and turned to crime. Needless to say, many parallels were drawn between him and the real-life example Bobby Driscoll.
  • Donnie in Magnolia, a former Child Prodigy on a TV quiz show who fell on hard times.
  • Life with Mikey starred Michael J. Fox as a former child star turned talent agent. However, in his case, it's even weirder as most of his fame came from him playing a child while he was an adult. These weren't roles he had played since he was a child; his entire career was simply Not Allowed to Grow Up.
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman's character in Along Came Polly plays with this trope, even featuring a movie poster in the style of The Breakfast Club, and a character meltdown when he tries to direct and play every role in a community theater production.
  • The title character in Stand-In (1937) is a former child star who's now struggling to pay the bills as a stand-in for an aging starlet.
  • The focus of the documentary Showbiz Kids. The featured actors all made it big as kids, and discuss how that affected their childhoods and adolescence to fellow child star Alex Winter. Some like Evan Rachel Wood and Milla Jovovich are still acting consistently, while others like Mara Wilson and Todd Bridges have soured on the industry. The more outlandish horror stories like Lindsay Lohan are brought up as examples of what the constant pressure can do to a vulnerable mind.
  • Jurassic Prey: Andy used to star on a show called "Crack Commandos" back when he was a kid. He went along with robbing a bank with Ed and Sparks because he couldn't take only making appearances at conventions and comic book store ribbon cutting ceremonies anymore.
  • Gary Valentine in Licorice Pizza comes off a promo tour for a movie where he's part of an ensemble cast of kids before auditioning for a clothing commercial that calls for a much younger-looking boy and getting offered one for zit cream, later landing on his feet as a teenage entrepreneur with a waterbed business that he pivots to a pinball arcade.
  • Ricky "Jupe" Park of Nope used to be the child star of a fairly popular, but short-lived sitcom, infamous for an incident where his co-star — a "trained" chimpanzee — went berserk, horrifically mauling several other cast members before getting put down. Despite his willingness to joke about it and feign nostalgia for his brief time in the limelight, Ricky is very clearly still traumatized from the experience, and ends up becoming more obsessed with trying to claim any form of stardom beyond the incident than to actually process or learn from it.

  • In Amagi Brilliant Park, Seiya Kanie used to be a child star with the stage name Seiya Kodama. Now that he's a teenager, he's not proud of it and goes That Man Is Dead whenever anybody recognizes him and tries to talk to him about it.
  • "Cold Snap" has a variation in which a famous Kid Detective has a public and humiliating fall from grace and grows up to be a bitter old man who never did as well in any other endeavor and turns to supervillainy to get back at a world that he feels never appreciated him.
  • The Gemma books by Noel Streatfeild are about a teenage former child star who is sent to comprehensive school. She changes her surname so as to be inconspicuous but she finds that she doesn't like being an unknown, and ends up becoming (locally) famous again.
  • Subverted in the X-Wing Series, part of Star Wars Legends. Garik "Face" Loran was a child star who appeared in Imperial propagandist "holodramas" until he realized the levels of cruelty The Empire was capable of. Now he's one part The Atoner, one part Master of Disguise (he's still a fantastic actor), and one part The Ace (though this is mostly an act, he can be a truly competent pilot when he needs to be). This definition of "child" is a bit flexible and seems to extend to "teen" since a number of women in his squadron had crushes on him when he was starring in holofilms. On the other hand is his old contemporary and rival Tetran Cowall, whom Loran says of at one point that "He was a good-looking kid, but as he grew up he got sort of homely and couldn't find work". Late in Solo Command, Cowall shows up in person and is revealed to have stayed Imperial. And also became a fighter pilot, just for a chance to beat Loran.
  • Pearl Bright of Jane Lindskold's Breaking the Wall trilogy is a contemporary of no less than Shirley Temple herself. However, Pearl herself subverts the usual description of this trope by being moderately wealthy thanks to her mother's careful investing of her childhood earnings, maintaining connections throughout Hollywood, and being an octogenarian badass.
  • The heroine of Tribute by Nora Roberts starred in a Full House clone when she was a little girl. After struggling with maintaining her fading acting career and doing poorly in college as she grew up, she started a successful business in restoring and selling old houses. Her grandmother was also one, going from a Shirley Temple Expy to one for Marilyn Monroe, complete with a deeply troubled personal life and mysterious untimely death.
  • Kenneth Valentine of John Varley's The Golden Globe is a seriously messed-up example, although, unlike the classic version, he's trying to hide from his past rather than wishing he could relive his glory days. He's actually a first-rate actor, but he avoids taking major roles because he doesn't want people to make the connection between him and "Sparky" (the role that made him famous as a kid).
  • Just barely subverted in The Great Opposition. After getting the lead part in an immensely successful historical film at the age of thirteen, Sima becomes increasingly depressed and lost as the director tells her she doesn't have what it takes for a long career in cinema. She can't do anything right, her grades go steadily down, and she ends up accepting a part in a low-quality comedy movie in her desperation to get back to the screen again. Fortunately, the latter makes her realise her error and snap out of it, and she finds new goals and interests in life.
  • Nicky Bradshaw in Tim Powers' Expiration Date, who as a teenager starred as a boy ghost in a sitcom called Ghost of a Chance. He's fairly well-adjusted; his life's something of a mess, but that's more to do with someone trying to murder him than with the child stardom.
  • The lawyer Metzger in The Crying of Lot 49 has a hidden past as a child actor, although he's fairly well-adjusted.
  • Nowhere Stars: Shona Tiernan was a child actress in a Keeper-themes tv show, before she was chosen to become a Keeper in real life. She accepted the offer in no small part because it was her ticket out of that life, and out from under her controlling mother's thumb. Her magic is in large part based around channeling her years of pent-up-rage into Shock and Awe attacks. It also made her extremely Genre Savvy.
  • During the Info Dump section of The Shining, a former child star named Little Marjorie is mentioned. Derwent bought a struggling movie studio after its biggest star OD'd on heroin at the age of 14. Marjorie's cause of death was reported to be a "wasting disease."
  • The novel Star Island centers around Cheryl Buntermann, AKA Cherry Pye, a twenty-something child actor turned pop star whose career is self-destructing due to her own Alcohol-Induced Idiocy, and her studio's efforts to keep her from doing anything that would cause her marketability to completely collapse until after they've released her latest album.
  • Jupiter Jones of The Three Investigators series, as a young child, was an actor who went under the name "Baby Fatso". While it has provided useful as he has some knowledge of how the film industry works, he doesn't like to be reminded of it. He's turned out pretty well-adjusted for someone who used to be called "Baby Fatso".

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Comeback Kids is a sitcom about two child stars from The '80s, Richie Eisenberg and Gary Fischer, trying to get back into showbiz and having to adjust to life in 21st century Hollywood.
  • An SCTV segment parodies the trope with the show Oh That Rusty!, which has been running for over 20 years with the same lead actor. He's clearly an adult and off-screen, he basically runs the show now, but his character Rusty has never aged. Since Rusty is eight years old, the show recasts the other characters and redesigns the sets to try and hide this.
  • Robin from How I Met Your Mother was a teen pop star in Canada. The rest of the group mock her mercilessly for it.
  • Wil Wheaton plays a version of himself like this in The Big Bang Theory, initially playing the Jerkass version of this trope, but developed into a washed-up and chronically depressed has-been taking bit parts in low budget B-movies.
  • In the Married... with Children episode "You Better Shop Around", Jerry Mathers (known for Leave It to Beaver) guest stars, playing himself as a washed-up former child star, who has resorted to judging shopping contests in supermarkets. Bud and Kelly mercilessly mock him for this until he points out his father never sold women's shoes for a living.
  • Marcus Little of The Suite Life on Deck was formerly the One-Hit Wonder kid rapper Lil' Little. His record label dropped him once he hit puberty but he later makes a Career Resurrection by creating a "hip-hopera" that gets a Broadway deal.
  • Mr. Show's finale has Josh Fenderman, a parody of Corey Feldman and his Michael Jackson-esque phase.
  • Liv from Liv and Maddie. Although since Liv went on to star in a hit movie and get another TV series, and is basically pretty happy, the trope is less harmful to her than other examples.
  • Parodied in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, where Rebecca's little brother Tucker sings a song called "I Want to Be a Child Star". The first chorus goes "I want to be a pre-teen Hollywood trainwreck" and the final one goes "I want to be a desperate Hollywood has-been."
  • Jessica Jones (2015): Trish Walker currently is the radio host of Trish Talk on WNEX. She used to be the star of the TV show It's Patsy! which she was pushed into by her abusive mother. A Running Gag in the show is random characters singing a few bars of the theme song when they recognize Trish.
  • Eerie, Indiana: Lampshaded in "Reality Takes a Holiday". Marshall, having been transported behind the scenes of Eerie, Indiana, runs off in the middle of make-up to prevent himself from getting killed off. When his on-screen sister Julie Condra wonders where he is going, the make-up artist says, "Where's any red-blooded teen star go when they get cancelled? On a crime spree."
  • The Boys (2019): Mesmer, who was booted from Voight for using his mind reading powers for insider trading. He makes a living signing DVDs of his television show.
  • The Murder, She Wrote episode "Film Flam", set in a Hollywood studio, has recurring appearances by Joan Kemp, formerly Wee Joan Kemp, who still talks in a little-girl voice about her former career, and is hoping that renewed interest in the director she worked with is going to mean her return to fame. It turns out that, thirty-five years earlier, she was the one who killed him.
    Joan Kemp: Forty years ago, I was a child star. Made a million dollars before I was twelve. Go figure, my family drank most of it and stole the rest.
  • Reboot: Zack has been acting since he was four and got his big break playing the child character in Turn of the Millennium sitcom Step Right Up, though since the show's cancellation all he's done are straight-to-DVD kids' movies. Unlike many other examples of this trope, he's decently well-adjusted, though still very immature, and harbors no bitterness towards the entertainment industry, still being proud of his career.
  • Drake & Josh has Helen fondly recall that she used to be the child star of a sitcom called Happy Times, a show that Drake and Josh were vaguely familiar with. Unlike most examples, Helen grew up to be a well-adjusted and successful owner of a movie theatre, and she recalls her time with warm nostalgia — after pulling out an episode of the show to jog their memory, she indulges in reciting her character's catchphrase: "That is not my job!"
  • The Righteous Gemstones: Baby Billy Freeman, who still goes by that nickname into his seventies, got famous singing Christian music as a kid in duet with his sister Aimee-Leigh. But while Aimee-Leigh managed to become a successful evangelist alongside her husband Eli Gemstone, Baby Billy clung to his past success as a singer and never moved on, spending his time between messy divorces trying to convince Aimee-Leigh to go back on tour with him and sabotaging Eli's relationships with his children. After Aimee-Leigh died Baby Billy's life completely fell apart until Eli gave him a church to run out of pity, which led him to try recruiting his niece Judy to fill her mother's place singing the same old song about misbehaving children they'd been singing half a century ago.
  • Powerpuff: Combined with Kid Hero All Grown-Up. Not only were the girls superheroes, but Drake made the girls adhere to Contractual Purity in their lives outside of work. They ended up growing into wildly different people as a result:
    • Blossom went to an out-of-state college and got a boyfriend, both of which help distract her from the guilt of killing Mojo.
    • Buttercup moved to Oregon and worked as a firefighter under the name "Bee", preferring to satisfy her adrenaline urges while being a "normal" hero as far away from Townsville as possible.
    • Bubbles becomes the typical Hard-Drinking Party Girl Womanchild associated with the trope, having moved to Hollywood to capitalize on her former hero status.

  • Peter Sellers' 1958 comedy album The Best of Sellers has a song, "I'm So Ashamed", where a pop singer laments his falling out of favor, having not had a hit song in three weeks. It's revealed that the poor guy's almost 9 years old now...
  • Barenaked Ladies' song "New Kid On The Block" has a line about this: "I'm a New Kid on the Block/I'm 23 and they won't let me grow up."
  • "Child Star" by The Unicorns deals with a former child star meeting with a disillusioned former fan.
  • Hobo Johnson's "Ode to Justin Bieber" discusses the psychological problems child stars face, and defends Justin Bieber on the basis that his young fame caused him some problems that he apparently dealt with well.
    "If you buy your mom a house when you're thirteen you're gonna be fucked up mentally you know?"

    Puppet Shows 
  • In the Dinosaurs episode "Out of the Frying Pan", when Baby becomes a commercial mascot for a set of frying pans, Fran eventually has a Dream Sequence where Baby is a washed up adult with smoker's lung and was arrested for trying to rob a convenience store (while still a baby).

  • The Broadway musical Avenue Q features Gary Coleman as a superintendent. And in the Mexico City production, the character was turned into a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Carlos Espejel, a Mexican comedian who was a child actor in eighties' Mexican TV. Imagine a kid dressed up as Dracula, trying awfully hard to be scary and failing miserably, time after time...
  • Baby Rose, from the original version of Babes in Arms, moved to New York after she got older and "became passé". Now a gorgeous teenager, she's followed everywhere by a barbershop quartet who sing backup for her, but she has so little money left from her Hollywood days that, when the rest of the cast gets sent to a work farm, she and the quartet get sent there too.
  • One of the original Forbidden Broadway skits is about actresses who can't get work as adults after having played the title role in Annie.
  • Gypsy is about a Stage Mom who pushes her two young daughters, June and Louise, to be vaudeville stars. She forces June to dress like a little girl even when she's an older teenager and neither of her children seem to know their real age because of how their mother infantilizes them. When they grow up, June runs away and gets married at a young age, while Rose forces Louise to become a star in her place and later become a striptease artist in order to get money, though Louise actually ends up enjoying this profession.

    Video Games 
  • The Soda Poppers from Telltale Games' episodic Sam & Max: Freelance Police adventure games, who were reoccurring characters throughout the first two seasons before revealing themselves to be evil in Episode 205, What's New Beelzebub?.
  • In Segagaga, Alex Kidd tells the sad tale of how he used to be a video game star when he was younger but fell by the wayside. He now works behind the counter at one of Sega's shops.
  • In What Remains of Edith Finch, Barbara Finch was a child star of monster movies whose claim to fame was her iconic scream. After she grew up and her voice changed, her career dried up, and she disappeared and was presumably killed (all they ever found of her was her ear) in her late teens, as she was trying to recapture her scream for a fan convention.

    Web Original 
  • Funny Or Die's Wax On, Fuck Off is about Ralph Macchio trying to become a Hollywood trainwreck (or at least look like one) in order to gain more roles.
  • Donnie Dupre of Demo Reel is revealed to be this. Now a lackluster filmmaker, Dupre was formerly known as Jimmy Boyd (an expy of Jake Lloyd), whose mother, a washed-up starlet, committed suicide during the filming of a Christmas movie Dupre was in. Young Dupre attempted to press on with the performance, but the suicide caused him to be unable to give it his all. As a result of the bad performance, Dupre's Hollywood reputation tanked, causing him to develop a grudge against the Hollywood system for the unfairness of the entire ordeal.
  • Amanda Simmons of Hotwives of Orlando was the "Florida Prune Juice" girl as a child. She never had any other success as a child actor, but has never recovered from her brush with fame and spends most of her time drunk, high, and engaged in petty crime.
  • ''The Case of the Gilded Lily'' has Ford and Claudette. They were co-stars and are still close friends, but the latter seems to have adjusted much better than the former.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series has minor baddie Mary Dahl, a.k.a. Baby-Doll, a former starlet from the sitcom Love That Baby. Eventually, she wanted to move onto other projects, but wasn't able to find work as a serious actress because she's stuck in the body of a little girl.
  • One episode of Bonkers has a former child star called Babyface trying to pass himself off as Mickey Mouse. Apparently he was so obnoxious people have gone on record to say that they would rather dance barefoot on the surface of the Sun than work with him again.
  • Static Shock has a one-shot villain named Replay who is a former child star with Self-Duplication, voiced by former child star Neil Patrick Harris.
  • The Simpsons:
    • "Last Tap Dance In Springfield" has this with Lisa's tap teacher, who was a Shirley Temple-style star and is now a nasty old harridan who hides behind cutesy mannerisms most of the time. She admits to tapping coded messages for the Allies in WWII and destroying Buddy Ebsen's credit rating ("He knows why."), so this two-faced nature was probably always there.
    • An adult Butch Patrick is a guest star in "Eight Misbehavin'", where he cheerfully comments that he turned out OK! .. while still wearing his very ill-fitting Eddie Munster costume.
    • It's revealed in "Radioactive Man" that Moe was one of the original Little Rascals until he kills the original Alfalfa in a fit of rage when he stole his bit. Fortunately for Moe, Alfalfa was an orphan owned by the studio.
    • In "Kamp Krusty", Bart demands that Krusty proves that he's the real Krusty by saying the name of the child actress who played his daughter on the short-lived sitcom President Clown. Apparently things didn't go so well for her.
    Krusty: I don't know her name! But she held up a liquor store last year!
    • During a reunion special in "All About Lisa", Krusty brings back The Kruskateers (a rather obvious parody of The Mouseketeers from The Mickey Mouse Club) as adults, or at least, the three of them who didn't become successful enough to tell him to drop dead. One of them is an ex-convict who apparently did time for taking the fall for Krusty.
  • Duckman: In "Days of Whining and Neurosis" Duckman is hired by the owner of a rehab center, and Duckman tells him he's impressed how the child actor who was remanded to the center by the court didn't rob a convenience store for three whole weeks after treatment.
  • One of the recurring themes in The Venture Bros. is that this ends up happening to all "Boy Adventurers" when they grow up. Jonny Quest himself, for example, is now a paranoid junkie. Rusty also attends a therapy session that features a Robin like former sidekick with an eating disorder, an Astro Boy-looking robot with anger management problems, and two The Hardy Boys-like former boy detectives who almost certainly killed their father. The whole experience actually leads Rusty to realize that by the standards of his peers he made out pretty good.
  • In one episode of Futurama, open auditions are held for the part of Calculon's son on the series' Soap Within a Show All My Circuits. Among the hopefuls are "that robot child actor who grew up and robbed a convenience store." He buys a lottery ticket from a robot child actor who grew up and became a convenience store — or, more accurately, a huge walking vending machine.
  • Bojack Horseman:
    • This happened to Sarah Lynn, the actress who played the youngest daughter on the title character's old show Horsin' Around (a Full House clone in its own right). More specifically, a mixture of a pushy stage mother, bad advice from Bojack (basically, "attention equals love"), and her attempts to establish her own career (by creating a Hotter and Sexier image) made her a Love Hungry Attention Whore. It's not too long after she devolves into the drug addicted trainwreck tabloid fodder type. And the worst part is that, in her mind, any attention (even the negative type) is better than none at all. She would end up dying at 31 of a heroin overdose, not at all helped by Bojack delaying calling 911 until he thought of a good alibi for how he found her so they didn't know he was on the bender with her.
    • Goober, the annoying house guest in Horsin' Around didn't turn out too well in adulthood either. The actor who played him (as BoJack so helpfully pointed out to Todd in one episode) ended up molesting some Laker Girls, and in the third season, it's revealed that he's become a sleazy nightclub owner and a drug dealer. Ironically, he's voiced by Fred Savage, a former child star who's had a well-adjusted adulthood despite not being as popular as he was in The Wonder Years.
    • Averted with the actors who played the other two children on the show: Joelle Clarke, the oldest, moved to England and became a stage actress (though it is mentioned she briefly struggled with an eating disorder due to fat jokes the show made about her), and Bradley Hitler-Smith, the middle child, quit show business entirely and went on to own a hardware store. Though if his attempt to make a sequel to Horsin' Around is any indication, he didn't let go of show business as well as he liked.
  • Parodied on Family Guy where it's shown that Elroy from The Jetsons is a barfly and Bam Bam from The Flintstones drives a cab.
    Elroy: Take me to Astro's grave!
    • In an episode where Stewie becomes the star of a series of commercials, Peter and Lois take every advantage of him and exploit him and his money. Brian saves Stewie by pointing out the fates of various other child stars. The kid who got his tongue stuck to a pole in A Christmas Story? He did porn. Boner from Growing Pains? Dead. Screech from Saved by The Bell? Porn. Corey Haim? Dead. Dana Plato? Porn, then dead.
  • We Bare Bears: "Family Troubles" reveals that as a cub, Grizzly was taken in by a TV studio and became a character on the eponymous Canadian sitcom. He enjoyed the job but left the show when they threatened to phase him out in favor of a hip new kid character named Cousin Lorenzo, and set out to find a real family. The reason no one seems to recognize him is that the episodes produced after Grizzly was introduced were stricken from the airwaves. Being a former child star would probably explain a few things about Grizz, like his tendency to be a people-pleaser and occasional desperation to impress people and make new friends.
  • What's New, Scooby-Doo?: The episode "It's Mean, It's Green, It's the Mystery Machine" subverts it with Andrew and Mandy Dinwiddie, a pair of teenagers who were once pop stars in an act called "The Mystery Kids" when they were younger; the third member, an adult named Flash Flannigan, was the original owner of the Mystery Machine and painted it into its well-known design (and is responsible for the act breaking up when he stormed off the stage one day and never came back, dying in a car accident sometime later). When Scooby and the rest of the gang meet them, Andy and Mandy are content to not be involved in the business anymore and would rather focus on things like tennis and prom dresses (respectively); the pair do, however, remember Flash fondly and visit his grave from time to time. While there is some trouble in their life during the episode, it's because their mother Susan would love nothing more than to see them make a comeback, while they just want to live normal lives.
  • Zeroman has Rusty Woodenwater. He was once the darling of Fair City and even had his own show. However, when he hit puberty, he has an on-stage acne outbreak that led to him being booed off said show. Now he's an embittered villain and regular nemesis to Zeroman.
  • Celebrity Deathmatch: The Frankie Muniz vs. Robert Iler fight revolved around avoiding this fate at all costs, as the episode was made right around the time the actors were hitting puberty and in danger of losing their marketability (Steve Urkel is used as an example). The winner of this match would be awarded the use of the Deathmatch time machine to rewind the clock and extend their careers a while. Muniz won, but the machine malfunctioned, transforming him into an old man. Ironically, both Muniz and Iler would both grow up to be aversions.
    • There's an infamous straight example in an earlier episode: Macaulay Culkin had a grudge match against Haley Joel Osment, specifically because Osment had seemingly avoided this fate. This was an especially unfair match since Osment was 12 when this match took place, while Culkin was 20. Osment managed to win anyway by summoning the ghosts of other celebrities who had died in the ring.


Evil Bratt

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

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Main / WhiteDwarfStarlet

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