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Free-Range Children

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These kids get around.

"Eighty percent of the reason being a kid sucks is you can't drive. You can't just zoom across town whenever you feel like it, you've got to wait for Mom or Dad to get home, or save up your allowance for cab fare, or latch onto the back of a garbage truck. Your ability to participate in adult-level adventures is thus severely limited."

Pre-teens in fiction will wander about their town, the country, or even the world, with little adult supervision or even concern. They'll ride down to their friend's house on the other side of town and go to places that aren't anywhere close to their own house.

It was in the mid-eighties when media-promoted fears of kidnapping and strangers caused parents and society to clamp down on the freedom of children to wander unsupervised.note  Before then, kids were commonly allowed much more latitude, particularly in the summer months, concerning what they did and where they went. While the freedom kids had to run about town still wasn't nearly as great as it tends to be in fiction (parents still needed to know where they were going, when they were going to be back, etc.), they were often allowed to at least take their bikes to local shopping centers, swimming pools, libraries, or woods. This was the particular case in a Close-Knit Community where other adults would notice and intervene in cases of danger.


Unusual travel permissiveness in a story can be an acceptable break from reality. A show involving Timmy and Sally being driven everywhere by their parents wouldn't be very exciting. Parents are, after all, useless and boring.

Compare Minor Living Alone and Invisible Parents for one of the more notable examples of this trope at work and Free-Range Pets for the animal equivalent. See also Kids Driving Cars, which takes this trope to the extreme. One extreme can be the Missing Child.



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    Anime and Manga 
As an aside, this is very common in Japanese media due to the Values Dissonance between Japan and the Western world.
  • Pokémon:
    • Just like the games, being ten in the anime is seen as an appropriate age to be given an incredibly powerful monster to keep as a companion and to travel around a world inhabited by many species of such monsters. School is never mentioned whatsoever outside of Pokémon-based ones and even these seem to be optional. This is a Justified Trope in that traveling around the world is only allowed because the child is accompanied by a powerful creature that can protect them if things go wrong. The Hoenn seasons of the anime had May hate and fear Pokémon at first, but unable to fulfill her dream of traveling the world unless she received a Pokémon for her own protection. Meanwhile, her younger brother Max was only able to travel with her, Ash, and Brock because she agreed to have custody over him for the duration of the journey; being too young to have his own Pokémon, he was forced to go home when May decided that she wished to continue her travels alone at the end of Advanced Generation. Word of God has people are considered of age for journeys once they turn ten, though not all children will choose to travel like Ash does in the anime. The (albeit non-canon) novelization by head writer of the original series, Takeshi Shudo, even explicitly mentioned that the legal age of adulthood is, indeed, 10, with all of the privileges and responsibilities that come with that. All that said,
    • The manga, Pokémon Adventures, also uses this trope. There it's all the more egregious due to how the world of Adventures is portrayed to be significantly more dangerous than most other Pokémon universes are shown to be. On top of this, the preteen-to-teenage Dex Holders are often seen taking on adult responsibilities like it's completely expected and normal for them, some even having or seriously considering full-on jobs and careers, ranging from stand-up comedians to self-run Pokémon talent agencies to International Police agents. One can reasonably believe that legal age of adulthood in the manga actually is about 13, if not 11 or 10, as preteens wandering about with no supervision is treated pretty much like as if they were high schoolers or full adults.
    • Hareta from Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl Adventure! is not only allowed to go on a Pokémon adventure on his own, but he was raised by Pokémon in a forest with very minimum supervision from Professor Rowan.
  • Super Gals: Sayo, about 11, is allowed to trail her big sister around the streets of Shibuya.
  • Digimon Adventure:
    • The Chosen are 8 to 12-year-old kids who run around Tokyo with no supervision (their Digimon aside), unquestioned, as would be the case with many high-schoolers.
    • This was likely part of the reason the ten-year-olds in Tamers got an age up in the dub. This seems to be the norm in Japan (see the real life section).
      • Digimon Adventure and Digimon Tamers were deconstructions of this trope — the Digital Worlds of each were filled with dangerous monsters that wanted to kill them and the kids often had problems adjusting to the level of maturity needed to survive, and in Tamers their parents generally were at least initially opposed to letting them go there. In fact, Takato's father, who is not quite as stubborn on this topic as his understandably concerned wife is, briefly discusses this trope with her, convincing her that it's ultimately their son's decision when the Tamers are preparing to head off to the Digital World to rescue Culumon and defeat the Devas.
    • Digimon Data Squad subverts this with the three main characters being either young adults or teenagers. Marcus is a street fighter. The youngest person in the show that owns a Digimon is Keenan, and he grew up in the wilderness of the Digital World nearly on his own.
  • In Neo Ranga, the girls range from about 10 to 18 and live alone without adults of any kind.
  • In Sonic X, Cream the Rabbit is allowed by her mother to accompany her friends on quests to save the universe, despite being only 6. She has Cheese with her, but still... Sonic and the others aren't much better, being all under 17 and Tails being as young as 8, but it's unknown where their parents even are.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura:
    • Sakura runs errands all over town and even goes to Hong Kong with only her big brother Touya (who's 17 years old tops) to supervise. Her brother is aware of her Magical Girl activities and worries about her but doesn't interfere.
    • Tomoyo has a troupe of bodyguards much of the time, but when needed they are inexplicably absent.
    • Sakura can also create a duplicate of herself to leave in her place, but her brother already knows it's not her.
  • Yotsuba&!:
    • Yotsuba can run all over the neighborhood without anyone to watch her (though she does usually have either her dad or one of the neighbors in close proximity). She does get scolded when she runs off on her own. She just never really seems to learn her lesson. Thankfully her world seems to be super safe.
    • It seems this concept was tried out in chapter 1 but was dropped because it made Mr. Koiwai seem neglectful rather than laid back and a bit forgetful. In the first chapter, she wanders around the neighborhood and Koiwai is confident she'll come back to the house when she gets hungry. However, after all the trouble she causes during that escapade he becomes more protective of her. The next time she wanders around unsupervised he does punish her.
    • Deconstructed in one chapter. At the fireworks festival, because Yotsuba hasn't realized the potential dangers of getting lost in a crowd after she runs off (the panel after being told not to let go of Koiwai's hand, naturally), Koiwai has Jumbo, Ena, and Miura hide to teach her a lesson.
  • In Detective Conan five seven-year-old children with a knack for wandering into murder scenes are allowed free rein over Tokyo. Two of them happen to be Older Than They Look but the parents don't know that. Somewhat more understandable when you remember that Japan has a much lower crime rate than the USA. Also kinda deconstructed in a Backstory arc when the Mouris, before separation, found the Kudos' very laissez-faire parenting a bit annoying. Indeed, the entire reason Shinichi ends up as Conan is that he curiously follows a shady-looking guy (whose companion he earlier noted had the eyes of a cold-blooded killer and is curiously nowhere to be seen) he thinks is up to something illegal. He's right, but it turns out the shady guy doesn't want anyone to find out and is perfectly willing to use violence to make sure it stays secret.
  • Flying Witch has an interesting exchange in episode 5. 9-year-old Chinatsu spots the cat Chito sneaking out, runs in and shouts to her mother that she's going out for a bit. When asked where she simply says "I don't know but I'm sure it's someplace amazing", and all her mother has to say is "watch for cars", at which point Chinatsu proceeds to follow Chito all around the town. And when she comes home covered in dirt from head to toe, her mother still asks nothing and just tells her to wash the dirt off before coming in.
  • Lyrical Nanoha. Nanoha's parents practically let her join the enforcement branch of an interdimensional government at age 9. And the government branch seems to have no problems sending out a pair of children to deal with an Artifact of Doom that's already killed hundreds of trained soldiers, which is guarded by a Lady of War with a flaming chain sword, among other things. For backup, they get another 9-year-old. Granted, said children are the biggest guns in the dimension.
  • The Powerpuff Girls in Powerpuff Girls Z are only twelve but run around the city without much issue.
  • Bakugan allows some kids to ask adults to take them somewhere by a plane or space shuttle.
  • The protagonists of Wandering Son are allowed to go to ride trains to other cities at nine years old, accompanied by no adults. On Takatsuki's first trip to the city (while dressed as a boy), he gets hit on by an adult woman, who later becomes a Cool Big Sis. The protagonists are allowed to hang around two adults whom their parents don't know, and even sleep over at their house. Though, to give them a break, their parents are unaware of their friendship for some time and they use vague terms like "friends" - though when they do tell their parents they don't seem scared, just mad that they're keeping secrets from them.
  • Sailor Moon: Chibiusa and (even more extreme) Chibi Chibi, whose strolling off becomes a plot point of one episode.
  • In Space Brothers, Mutta and Hibito's parents were present, but seemed to be fine with them running off on adventures alone. This includes a three-day bike ride to Kyoto on their own.
  • Naruto:
    • This was generally averted due to all of the pre-teen ninja being assigned an adult supervisor. The Sasuke Retrieval Arc was the only canon departure from this. With all the adult ninja being assigned to other missions, none of the members of the retrieval team were older than fourteen. This trope also extends to the Sand siblings who came to their rescue, as there is no evidence their teacher was present.
    • Played straight often during the filler arcs where Naruto, usually accompanied by one or more of his friends, would head out on a mission of some sort. These mini-arcs tended to be lighter fare, but still involved the genin travelling several days from their homes with no supervision in the middle of a Cold War.
  • Non Non Biyori has the 5 school-age children, one as young as 6, wandering around the countryside, often many miles from home.
  • Rolling Girls both plays this straight and averts it. Nozomi's mother is very worried about her and initially protests her daughter's plan to ride across Japan on a motorcycle, but gives in once her husband convinces her to give Nozomi some space. On the flip side, none of the other three protagonists' parents seem to have any issue with their daughters ditching school and going on a cross-country road trip.
  • Appears often in Michiko & Hatchin. 9-year old Hatchin goes off by herself and is left alone by Michiko constantly. The same can be said for all the other children who are encountered, as they are mainly seen without adults. Played with in that they rarely do this for enjoyment, but rather out of necessity.
  • The characters in Serial Experiments Lain live in a society where it's perfectly normal for fourteen-year-olds to visit an adult nightclub and hang out at night. This also applies to Taro and his friends, who are even younger. In this case, it's supposed to seem weird and creepy to the audience.
  • In Mitsuboshi Colors three elementary girls are absolutely free to roam Ueno Park and its surroundings until 5pm. They even reach Akihabara (two stations away) playing hide-and-seek.
  • This is usually avoided in Bunny Drop except for going to school. Six-year-old Rin and her similarly aged friend Kouki go to school by themselves, but they come home with their parents.
  • In Cowboy Bebop, Edward Tivursky, a genius, eccentric teenager, is this to an extreme, living on her own for much of her childhood, since her kind but mentally unwell father unintentionally abandoned her.
  • Yo-Kai Watch: 11-year old Nate and his similarly aged friends have free-range of their city and the surrounding area.
  • Gankutsuou: Albert, Franz, and Eugénie are all around 15 or 16, and are shown driving off to the beach and the countryside in their own cars and motorbikes.
  • Seems to the rule in every Beyblade series. The characters are never older than teenagers, but they are free to go all over town, to other towns or even other countries seemingly with no parental disapproval. As long as they're doing it for their Beyblading dreams, it's all good.

  • With Terry Ananny's focus on children, this crops up from time to time when the setting clearly isn't at home. A notable case is Winter Wonderland, where the children are at least nearby houses, but one is chopping wood unsupervised and another is alone cooking while the flames leap higher than the pot.

    Comic Books 
  • Paper Girls: It's All Saints Day in 1988 and Erin, Mackenzie, Tiffany, and KJ band together for mutual protection against any lingering Halloween weirdness as they run their early morning newspaper delivery routes. Yes, there actually was a time when 12-year-old kids really were allowed to deliver newspapers in the predawn darkness.
  • Tim Drake being essentially unsupervised while he is not at school allows him to follow Batman around on his bicycle when he is concerned that the Dark Knight has become reckless. His parents' constant absences are what gave him the time to occasionally follow Batman and Robin around on patrols when he was younger as well, in Gotham.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Diana comes across some kids sledding when one loses control and goes across a road, nearly getting killed. They learn she's never sledded before and offer to teach her so she spends quite a while with them playing in the snow and trying to keep them off the road and there is zero indication of any adult supervision outside of Diana. When they're done playing for the day the kid who nearly got killed earlier goes to his mother's place of work to wait for her to get off so they can go home together.

    Fan Works 
  • The Twilight Child:
    • The main character, when she was a foal, as the first flashback shows. In one instance, she runs off just seconds after being lectured for wandering off.
    • The Cutie Mark Crusaders, naturally, but Scootaloo most all, at one point she's found wandering around town on a school day.
  • Subverted in Gensokyo 20XXV. If Reimu were younger than her assumed age-regression age (which is implied to be either five or six), she would be a Straying Baby, she is clearly not allowed to be free-ranged and they do worry about her when she goes missing but that didn't stop her from getting out anyway. Same thing occurs with the other children, given their circumstances, and the adults do worry and often go out to find them.
  • We have this also in Kill la Kill AU with the kids, seeing as Satsuki, Nui, Ryuuko, and Mako (although mostly the latter three, especially Ryuuko) are seen going here and there, i.e, seeing how many times Ryuuko has been thrown in jail and in one comic the kids are seen going places at night, then again, their parents didn't know that is what they were doing. We also had this with Mako's mother, Sukuyo, as a child, according to Ragyou, due to her parents being loving yet painfully absent-minded
  • Phineas Flynn and Isabella Garcia-Shapiro in Finding Dad travel 900 miles from their home in Danville to New Orleans, and are even allowed on domestic flights.
  • Pokemon: Johto Quest: Protagonist Emily Hawthorne is one of these for a majority of the series as she travels freely through the Johto region.
  • In If I Only Had A Heart, Izuku and Mashi are basically given free rein to do whatever they want after school because their parents are busy at work. Izuku mainly uses this time to design new machines while Mashi watches, but he also has Mashi help him install new prosthetics during these unsupervised hours. Inko becomes painfully aware of this after Izuku gives himself a seizure with his new artificial eye. After this, she has her neighbor Aizawa as well as his friends Nemuri and Hizashi walk to and from school and look after him in her absence.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Izuku and Bakugou used to hang out together unsupervised when they were kids, as per canon. It gets horribly deconstructed when Izuku doesn't learn to control his newfound Super Strength before brawling with Bakugou for bullying someone, which ends with Bakugou nearly dying after Izuku accidentally throws him through a brick wall.
  • In My Huntsman Academia, Izuku and Katsuki used to go for romps in the woods around Mountain Glenn when they were kids, even though Grimm are known to prowl around the area.
  • Used as Deliberate Values Dissonance in Blind Courage. Zelda lets her blind and sheltered daughter wander around the local forest by herself. At almost 7-years old, Baby is old enough to go play outside by herself.
  • In the oneshot Cicada Psalms, it's mentioned that kids in Hinamizawa are given a fair amount of freedom because it's a small rural town in 1990:
    The sun’s dying down, but Mikoto has lived here her whole life, and it’s Hinamizawa, and everyone knows everyone, so Keiichi, who has to lock up, sees her off to walk home alone without a worry. Little Mikoto scampers off down the path with her little backpack, but then she turns back, and very swiftly, without a word, hugs Keiichi tight. It lasts a few moments. Then she rushes off, faster than before.
  • Her Max:
    • A six-year-old Ruby convinces her parents to leave her home alone with her two-year-old brother for a few hours.
    • After the death of their parents, Ruby and Max become fully free-range. The only adult supervision they have is their grandmother, who doesn't live with them.

    Films — Animated 
  • Exaggerated, with the consequences played for drama, in Pinocchio. Instead of taking Pinocchio to his first day of school, Geppetto merely directs him to walk there with the town's other children. Although Pinocchio has the mentality of a boy about six years old, at this point he has only been alive for one day and has never been outside his house before. Not surprisingly, he doesn't actually get to school.
  • Despite being grounded for most of South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Stan, Kyle, and Cartman are still free to roam the town as they please, largely because their parents are too busy waging war on their behalf to keep track of where their children are.
  • Deconstructed in Disney's The Rescuers Down Under. Cody is free to run around the local areas of the Australian outback... but runs into the film's villain (a poacher) and... then you have the plot of the movie.
  • Deconstructed in Lilo & Stitch. Nani takes over as Lilo's guardian after the death of their parents. She has to take care of her six-year-old sister, but work often leaves her away from home. As a result, Lilo walks home a lot, though Nani usually walks her home from dance rehearsal. Nani and Lilo have issues with CPS because they don't believe Nani is in the best situation to be a good guardian for her sister.
  • As a part of the Deliberate Values Dissonance in The Wizard of Oz, Aunt Em and Uncle Henry leave their young niece to take care of their farm for the day.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In BMX Bandits, the young teen heroes ride all over Sydney without any parental supervision at all. And some of the characters in the bike cavalry are even younger, and equally unsupervised.
  • A big problem for the 2007 Bridge to Terabithia film, which is set after 2000. Nowadays, the well-off city-born Burke parents would never have allowed Leslie (their only child and only ten) to go even near the rope or in the woods by herself (or even with Jess), precisely out of fear that something might happen, despite the natural tendency of country-born parents often letting their kids do exactly that, after of course teaching them how to do so safely (or not, it's pretty much Russian Roulette). As with the Harriet The Spy example above, the book was written in the seventies, where one could arguably see this happening, but the movie is clearly set in the year it was released.
    • It implied that Jess and Leslie snuck out to the woods without their parents knowing, and they somehow managed to keep their parents completely uninformed about their little adventures. Which is somewhat justified, since the Aarons are too busy watching over their other four children and considers Jess, their only son, to be capable to taking care of himself, whilst the Burkes, being from the city, are on the eccentric side and thinks Leslie is independent enough on her own despite her age. The trope still fits though.
  • Shirley Temple vehicle Bright Eyes features Shirley hitchhiking to the airport. Her character is five years old.
  • The four junior high protagonists in Camp Nowhere are pretty free-range to begin with. That said, the concept is brought into full play once they set up their own phony summer camp and bring along several of their friends. The trope is also explored in detail—issues like boredom, homesickness, injuries, and brushes with the law crop up throughout.
  • In The Candy Snatchers, mute toddler Sean's parents let him come and go as he pleases.
  • The Cave of the Yellow Dog: Maybe it's different when you're a family of nomads living on the actual range—or the steppes of Mongolia as it were. Still, Nansal can't be more than nine, is tasked with getting on a horse and taking the sheep out to graze. Her mother gets very upset when Nansal doesn't come home—Nansal got distracted looking for her dog.
  • Cop Car: The protagonists are two young boys who have run away from home to wander around the wilderness outside their town. They find a cop car and take it for a joy-ride, claiming it as theirs.
  • The dangers of this trope are shown in the 1928 film The Crowd. The protagonist's toddler-aged daughter ends up run over and killed while crossing the street with her barely-older brother. In their case, they were in view of their parent's house but were still mostly unsupervised.
  • The three siblings in the French movie Demi Tarif were abandoned by their single mother (though she occasionally calls). They are between the ages of 11 and 8 and live alone, steal food, roam the streets, beg for money, and do anything they want as they live alone in a Paris apartment. They also try to hide the fact that they live alone, which is difficult. The stress of living alone shows on all of them.
  • Early silent The Evidence of the Film shows a kid who looks about seven working as a messenger boy, walking across town. The role was played by an 11-year-old girl. Justified in that in this time period, it was not only common but completely legal for kids to have actual paying jobs, some of which would have been far more dangerous of themselves than simply allowing the kid out to play.
  • The kids in The Florida Project freely wander the Kissimmee strip area without supervision, with it not being until one major incident that one of the mothers take action.
  • In A Girl Named Sooner, Sooner decides to return to her old home, and a yokel on the side of the road even gives her a ride without asking about where she is going.
  • Harriet the Spy: In the movie, the children are only 11, yet they wander aimlessly around town with little to no concern from their parents. The book may have been written in the '60s, but since the movie was clearly set in the '90s, it was a bit jarring to see.
  • In The Human Comedy, five-year-old Ulysses is allowed to wander all over Ithaca, CA with a group of older boys. Eventually he wanders away from them and winds up alone and crying. Since Ithaca is an absurdly idealized Everytown, America, he's immediately recognized and given back to his older brother.
  • Invasion of the Neptune Men has a group of children who can seemingly go anywhere. And not simply around their neighborhood; they can waltz into government buildings during high stakes defense meetings and press conferences regarding an alien invasion. Lampshaded in the MST3K viewing: "Apparently the kids have level five security access". In the "MST3K Episode Guide" book, while reviewing Gamera, Kevin Murphy elaborates:
    "In Japan, there is a class of children who are, well, special...these are the monster children. The merest, most remote chance encounter with a monster sweeps the child into the inner circle of Japanese military and government security and strategic planning... The monster child is a treasure to the Japanese matched only by the emperor and his family..."
  • In the 1997 informative video The Kids Guide to the Internet, the mother leaves her kids and their friends alone with an internet connection, free to wander where they please on the Internet of the 1990s, where it was far easier to wander haphazardly into porn.
  • In Mario (1984), Mario's parents are so busy during the tourist season that no one is around to watch him except his older brother Simon. The other neighborhood boys are also allowed to spend hours playing in the hills with Mario and Simon.
  • Many Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen vehicles have this trope:
    • In To Grandmother's House We Go the girls, who are six, board a city bus trying to get to their grandmother in Edgemont. The only reaction an older woman who talks to them has is that the bus doesn't travel that far.
    • In How the West Was Fun, the eight-year-old twins ride horses from a rural dude ranch to Denver and back, and regularly roam around said ranch by themselves.
    • In The Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley series, the girls play kid detectives who can "solve any crime by dinnertime". The kids travel (often by bike) as far away as Transylvania and remote tropical islands with no parental supervision, which none of the adults they come across question.
    • The You're Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley's series occasionally had the girls and their friends running around the Mall of America or a fashion college with virtually no adult supervision aside from a college-aged cousin or sister who would conveniently leave the scene when the plot demanded it.
  • At the beginning of Run Wild, Run Free, Philip attends a clinic for emotionally disturbed children, but his mother stops taking him because she doesn't think he's making any progress. Philip can't attend a regular school, so for the rest of the movie he's free to spend all his time wandering the moors.
  • Stand by Me has the Four Kid Band seemingly crossing county lines to see a dead body. They all agree to lie to their parents about where they're going, and none of the adults bothers to check with the others. Justified in-universe in that, first, it's 1959, and second, the alleged parents range from indifferent (Vern's) to borderline-criminally neglectful (Gordie's) to abusive (Chris's) to single-mom-with-dad-in-the-psych-ward-of-a-VA-hospital (Teddy's).
  • Stand by Me's Distaff Counterpart is Now and Then, which features the girls biking for an entire day to read archived newspapers at a library.
  • The kids in Super 8. Justified in that it's set in the 1970s.
  • Ultraman X The Movie: Here Comes! Our Ultraman!: The local archeologist and single mother, Tsukasa Tamaki, is allowed to bring her 11-year-old son, Yuuto Tamaki, with her to archeological digs and site excavations, where the boy is free to roam about picking up whatever artifacts he can find. Especially jarring considering the film takes place in a universe where giant monster attacks happen on a regular basis, and the preceding TV series has an episode where two children, having wandered too far near a lake, nearly gets devoured by a giant water monster...
  • All three youngsters (and the rest of their Sunday School class) in Whistle Down the Wind.

    Literature - Fiction 
  • Duumvirate, in spades. Bioengineered children are treated as adults by age eight, and the six-year-olds know how to fly jets. Want to mess with one? Go on, try it. What's the worst that could happen?
  • Feeling Sorry for Celia has a great version of this trope. The titular girl, who is herself a Cloudcuckoolander, runs off to join the circus. The mother, who had been worried but expressing it strangely for a good part of the book, is instantly put at ease when she's told that her daughter is just with a traveling circus, saying "Oh, the circus! Why didn't we think of that earlier?" Another example from the same book is when a younger Celia and her best friend were planning on building a treehouse. Her mother is absolutely fine with the idea, no questions asked; however, the best friend's mother wants to know details. The two mothers get in an argument over the issue.
  • In The Baby-Sitters Club, the eighth-graders are treated like high schoolers, while the sixth-graders are treated like young teens. They're allowed to run around New York City and Europe and take little kids sailing on the ocean, all without adult supervision. Eleven-year-old Jessi gets the starring roles in all her ballet productions and was left in charge of her 8-year-old sister and baby brother for a whole weekend.
  • The Famous Five: Certainly there was less helicopter parenting in 1950s Britain, but letting a group of 10- to 12-year-olds go on weeklong camping trips in various desolated areas with no supervision? They have the dog to take care of them, it's probably fine. The books do have them age up a couple of years. Julian was meant to be 15 or 16 at one point. One website worked out, from the pattern of summer/Easter/x-mas/half-term holidays they had, that by the end of the books they should all be in their early 20s.
  • Dandelion Wine is full of examples of this.
  • Animorphs carefully averts the trope; the heroes constantly have to make up excuses and lie about supervision for their absences from home, or even get substitutes for themselves. Except Tobias, who's "lucky" enough to have legal guardians so disinterested they barely even notice when he goes missing.
  • Deconstructed in the Tomorrow, When The War Began series. Here are a band of Australian teenagers who roam around the countryside, armed to the teeth, participating in guerilla-style warfare, all without parental supervision. However, this is only because their parents are being held in detention centers after Australia was invaded.
  • Stephen King:
    • The parents of the seven main kids in IT might as well be nonexistent, considering how they let their kids roam around unsupervised all day despite there being a killer preying on children loose in town. Of course, one of Pennywise/IT's powers seems to be making the townsfolk indifferent, maybe even accepting, of his evils, so it might be Justified. Partially justified in-story for Bill Denborough's parents, whose grief over the death of his younger brother has made them both withdraw emotionally (even by the standards of the era).
    • The novella The Body, which became Stand by Me. As with It, above, it's largely justified: although the kids do have to come up with a cover story, it's clear that the adventure is only possible due to rampant familial dysfunction and Parental Neglect among the group, with two, Chris Chambers and Teddy Duchamp, explicitly having abusive, alcoholic fathers, and protagonist Gordie LaChance's parents in Excessive Mourning after the death of his older brother.
  • Elizabeth Enright's Melendy Quartet has the Melendy children running unsupervised all over New York City and the countryside. When Oliver (who's six) does it in imitation of the older ones, it's not with permission, and he gets into trouble. After that, the older kids decide that they'll accompany him to do whatever he wants on his Saturday because it's not fair that they have more freedom than he does.
  • As does Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which is based on her own childhood in that borough.
  • The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. Now Frank and Joe are 16 and 18, but in the earlier editions, they were 13 and 15.
  • The Boxcar Children series is essentially built on this trope. The children's independence is not only allowed but encouraged by their grandfather (who raises them). Henry and Jessie, the two oldest, are only 14 and 12, but they usually seem more like high schoolers and act basically as parent figures to Violet and Benny, the two youngest — who are 10 and 6 but also act older. Throughout the series, they've done such varied things as camping out, exploring the Arizona desert, and even caving, all without a lick of supervision. This makes sense since the premise of the series is that they lived just fine in an abandoned boxcar for several months before learning their grandpa wasn't a jerk.
  • Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Huck gets a pass because he's an orphan (more or less), but in general the kids are allowed to go wherever they please, and the parents only get worried if the kid doesn't come home for a few days. A little girl's birthday party includes an afternoon of exploring the local caves, though it's well known that you could get lost and never find your way out.
  • Lucinda Wyman and Tony Coppino in Ruth Sawyer's Roller Skates. Set in the 1890s, a policeman sees Lucinda doing pretty much as she pleases every day and thinks that New York isn't too big a city to turn a child loose in, "barring a few corners of it." One "corner" turns out to be a fancy hotel, and Lucinda, aged ten, finds an adult friend of hers who has been stabbed to death. The policeman never finds out about that.
  • In The Roman Mysteries the four main characters border on this trope, and cross the line into it during several books.
  • In Alice, Girl from the Future books, the kids living in the 2070s and later often tend to be like this, especially on Earth and other civilized planets.
    • In the earlier and more serious stories it actually gets deconstructed: for example, in One Hundred Years Ahead, Alice is left in a public zoo to work alone with a priceless thought-reading machine, and it's not too long before the latter gets stolen.
    • In the later books, however, played perfectly straight. In The War with Lilliputs, Alice, Pashka, and Arkasha (all of them aged twelve) live fully by themselves in Arkasha's country house, and the grownups are okay with it because at least the kids stay on Earth and close to Moscow. In Alice in Gusliar, children are even allowed to make long-distance time travel on their own with the adults' full consent.
  • The Magic Treehouse series averts the trope by having no time pass while the treehouse takes them anywhere or anytime in the world.
  • Justified in The Thirteenth Tale. Before they have a governess, Emmeline and Adeline go wherever they want to in the village because the Missus and John-the-dig are too busy taking care of a huge house and too old to keep up with them.
  • Most of the Stark kids in A Song of Ice and Fire, since they have a tendency to be separated from their parents for long periods of time. Rickon, the youngest Stark at 3 years old, practically becomes feral along with his direwolf Shaggydog. Deconstructed in that the only reason Bran and Rickon Stark can go anywhere is that their home is destroyed and they are both presumed dead. After her father's death, Arya ends up in the company of criminals and assassins.
  • The Swallows and Amazons series has kids who are allowed to go sailing on their own, even though they can't all swim, from an Island on a lake where they're left alone for days on end. In one book, their 4-5-year-old sister comes along too. "Better drowned than Duffers. If not duffers, won't drown."
  • Lyra in the His Dark Materials series, due to her interesting personal circumstances grows up with no parents in an Oxford college - that is to say, a place designed to educate adults. As a result, her education includes advanced physics but not the fact that the earth orbits the sun, and she's effectively feral, but as a result very independent, Street Smart, brave, and a chronic liar: traits that serve her well in her adventures. Justified with Angelica, Paolo, and many children in Citigazze. Adults can't go into Spectre-infested areas so the children, sometimes orphaned by the Spectres, go where they want. Sometimes, adults even send the children places to find food.
  • Doris Burn's Andrew Henrys Meadow starts out with one kid, who likes to build complex contraptions, catching heat from the rest of his family for those contraptions getting in everyone's way. He retreats to a tranquil meadow and builds a little house for himself to build stuff all day in. Eventually other oppressed kids show up, and he builds houses for them. They spend hours at a time in their makeshift village until their parents start wondering where they keep running off to.
  • The kids in most of Zilpha Keatley Snyder's books are this. In The Egypt Game it becomes a plot point because of the child murders in the area.
  • Pretty much every James Patterson juvenile character exhibits this to some extent, but I Funny's Jamie Grimm went to another town by himself for a comedy contest on his own - did we mention he's paraplegic? - and it's strongly implied he wheeled himself home in the middle of the night.
  • Books by Diana Wynne Jones exhibit this to differing degrees, depending on the level of Parental Neglect (a frequent trope in her books) and somewhat on the decade in which the book was written.
    • The children in The Ogre Downstairs (early 1970s) have attentive parents, but the youngest child (aged seven or so) is allowed to go to the library on her own in the daytime, though it's clear that none of the children is allowed out after dark.
    • The girls in The Time of the Ghost, set in the late '70s, live in a separate building from their parents, who don't check up on their whereabouts and don't notice when one of them goes missing (on purpose, to test them).
    • Polly in Fire and Hemlock (1980s) ends up wandering alone around a city she doesn't know well, not knowing where she'll spend the night, because her divorced parents have both assumed that the other one is going to take care of her - but it's made clear that her parents are irresponsible, and her granny is appalled when she finds out.
    • Later books tend to have a much elder sibling character (or similar) who can plausibly supervise, such as Vanessa in The Homeward Bounders or Fifi the au pair in Archer's Goon.
  • In Seanan McGuire's October Daye novel Ashes of Honor, a human child had to live quite close to the school, since she walks, which surprises a young fae. On the other hand, the police only treat her as missing after 48 hours, which causes Toby to think about how they would never wait that long.
  • The main characters of Lockwood & Co. by Jonathan Stroud run the eponymous agency by themselves, with no adult supervision.
  • Emily The Strange The Lost Days: Subverted with Emily/Earwig, though she doesn't know it until she gets her memory back. However, Molly's parents let her go anywhere she wants as long as her grades are good. Anywhere includes anywhere in the country.
  • Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games at eleven years old roamed around town trying to sell her sister's baby clothes and ended up looking through garbage bins in the pouring rain and her mother didn't seem to notice she's gone. At the age of twelve Katniss (and Gale, who was fourteen) was running around in the woods trying to gather food and hunt which was not only potentially dangerous for kids that age in its own right, in Panem it's illegal and would have terrible consequences if the wrong person found out. Neither Katniss' nor Gale's mother seemed to mind at all.
    • This is justified and played with for Katniss. She had to do the aforementioned things because her father died and her mother became so stricken with grief that she barely noticed her children anymore. Katniss resents her mother for life because she wanted her mother to scold her for doing such things and feed her, as mothers are ought to do. Basically, she was forced to become a Free-Range Child, even though she didn't want to.
    • It's also justified for Gale. Though Hazelle is an infinitely better mother than Mrs. Everdeen, she has to take care of Gale's three younger siblings in a poor household and no husband (he died alongside Katniss' father), while her manual job only provides a meager income that's not sufficient to feed them all (even after Gale started helping her, he still had to take tesserae, which increased his chances of being Reaped). Plus, Gale is a competent hunter. It's not as if she had a choice.
  • A bicycling shoal of them in rural Oxfordshire play a major part in Michael Innes' Appleby detective story, Operation Pax / The Paper Thunderbolt.
  • Pippi Longstocking. Granted, well, her mother is in Heaven, her father is a Captain who roams the Seven Seas on his ship and later on the King of some exotic island kingdom, and since Pippi is living in a house all alone with no adults, a certain orphanage lady is always after her. But Tommi and Annika? Whenever that red-haired anarcho goes on another adventure, be it all around Sweden or even to somewhere overseas, their thoroughly square parents let them tag along! (Tommi and Annika were just as square before they met Pippi.) Then again, what bad could happen to you when you accompany a girl who is stronger than most grown-ups, and who neither knows nor cares for and therefore doesn't really obey any laws of physics and therefore has the liberty to do anything she wants to?
  • Sara-Kate's family situation in Afternoon of the Elves is at the darker end of this trope. She runs wild and does whatever she wants, apparently free of adult supervision because her mother is too sick and/or depressed to look after her, and Sara-Kate is trying to keep it a secret so she won't be taken away by CPS.
  • Bat Pat: in both the books and the animated adaption, the parents of the 3 main protagonists don’t seem too concerned about their kids going out in the night or traveling all over town on their own.
  • In Bambi, Bambi's mother and his Aunt Ena encourage this with their kids as is realistic for deer. After they're weaned, they force their kids to wander around all day alone. The twins usually stick together, and sometimes Bambi plays with his cousins too, but usually he sticks to himself.
  • Tailchaser from Tailchaser's Song used to go off to play by himself in his first summer. This came to a halt when he returned home and found his family gone.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • Averted with kits (who are five months or younger). They're not allowed outside of their Clan's nesting place.
    • Played straight with apprentices, who begin at roughly between the equivalent of 10-13. They're allowed to go within their borders on their own, however they're usually accompanied by warriors.
  • The cub-aged main characters in Seeker Bears all walk around together for various reasons. One was abandoned by his mother, the other ran off taking the Call to Adventure, the third character's mother died, and the fourth has no mother. It's frequently mentioned that it's odd for them to be on their own at their ages.
  • Flavia de Luce is eleven years old and spends her time riding around on her bike investigating cases of murder. She does run into adults who tell her she has no business getting involved in police work on a regular basis, but Flavia has long since learned to make use of the gaps in adult supervision and of the hands-off parenting of her widowed father.
  • Hive Mind (2016): Children old enough to have their monitoring bracelets removed (on their 10th birthday) have the run of the public places on their level. Thirteen-year-olds move up to Teen Level to live independently for five years before becoming an adult.
  • In Ascendance of a Bookworm, commoner children as young as three are typically let out the city gate (under supervision of children who aren't that much older) into the surrounding woods to gather firewood for their working parents, forage, or do other things like trying to invent paper. This is justified by the fact that in this culture, children are expected to begin training for their adult vocation at the age of seven, so they expect a lot of discipline and maturity at a young age. On top of this, the main character is part of a poorer class where children have to start contributing to the household literally as soon as they can.
  • If I Fall, If I Die: Will's mother is so agoraphobic she can't leave the house, and Jonah is being raised by his brothers, who let him do whatever he wants. The two of them are free to spend their free time skateboarding, exploring, and investigating Marcus's disappearance alone in the bad part of town.

    Literature Non-Fiction 
  • Christiane F. strongly implies that a lot of teens of her age (keep in mind that Christiane was a girl living in Berlin who became a prostitute) just wandered around in the streets without their parents knowing what they did all night.

    Live Action TV 
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark? might as well be the epitome of this trope. Think about it. The children are outside late at night in the middle of the woods telling horror stories that would make you wonder if their parents knew they were outside this time of night. Just look at the name of the crew: The Midnight Society.
  • The high school years of Buffy the Vampire Slayer used this trope. The teenage scoobies will be seen wandering around numerous points of town from their school building to a restricted research facility, during and after school hours. Buffy herself is used to climbing in and out of her bedroom window to hunt vampires at the local cemetery. It's explained in season 2 that each of the scoobies allow themselves the free time to fight evil and save the world by calling their respective parents and telling them they're staying at everyone else's house.
  • Many of the underage cast of The Wire, in a case of either Parental Neglect or Parental Abandonment (depending on the character), played straight. In one scene from season one, police go to Wallace's mother, fearing for his life. She doesn't know where he is, doesn't care, and doesn't care to be bothered by cops: he owes her $10, and she's "trying to get my drink on." As the audience has previously discovered, the 16-year-old Wallace has spent the last several months living in a vacant building with several younger kids.
  • On How I Met Your Mother Barney's childhood was apparently like this, as he comments that he would go grocery shopping and buy nothing but candy when his mom was gone for the weekend.
  • The Tomorrow People (1973) had a solution to the issue of children running off on adventures with aliens on distant planets or around London that was so simple and straightforward that it is hard to believe: They just told their parents that they were an advanced form of human and were tasked with protecting the Earth. Once they'd seen their children teleport, the parents didn't see themselves as having much choice but to accept it.
  • Dean on Supernatural was allowed to do pretty much everything he wanted to do, as long as he watched after Sam, which John didn't even have to ask him to do. He reveals this with slightly melancholic undertones to a girlfriend in high school who seems to be quite surprised and a bit worried.
  • In the Power Rangers universe the parents aren't seen or even acknowledged unless they're relevant to the plot. A perfect example is the final episode of Power Rangers Turbo where the team boards a rocket to go into space. Justin stays behind to stay with his father. Nothing is mentioned about the other parents, so apparently they wouldn't miss their kids. Granted the Rangers are all high schoolers who spend most of their time in a popular high school hangout and they all have cars. Though the kids going off in space definitely counts (though they return to Earth in a matter of hours due to Artistic license on space travel)
  • In Power Rangers Mystic Force, there's a two-parter where Vida becomes a vampire. It takes place over several days, naturally mostly at night. We never found out what the parents thought of their teens being out all night, and Vida being nowhere to be found all that time as far as the parents were concerned.
  • In Power Rangers Dino Thunder, at least, the teens are known to be with their science teacher, who used to be a Power Ranger himself and is used to that anyway.
  • In iCarly, Carly, Sam, and Freddy are allowed to do pretty much anything they want since they usually lack actual parent supervision, though this is sometimes averted with Freddy's overbearing and overprotective mother.
  • In Round the Twist, the Twist kids regularly wander all about Port Niranda without adult supervision - from a new toxic waste-dump to the depths of the local unexplored forest, nowhere seems off-limits. To be fair, the two older Twist twins are 14.
  • On The Walking Dead, no one seems to be tasked with watching Carl, despite the worldwide zombie apocalypse. Carl wanders freely as the plot needs him to.
  • Kyle XY tends to zigzag this a lot, varying between impromptu investigative adventures into the woods, hidden bunkers, or just the other side of Seattle, to take down evil megacorps, ferret out conspiracies, or even get a friend's car out of a towing lot to the kids getting grounded and forced to sneak around (and out of) the house. Lying to parents, covering for siblings, and generally skulking about is all over, especially if the quest involves going to a party or a bar. Justified in that they are high-schoolers, some of them are even touring colleges they plan to attend, several of the kids have their own cars, and that Nicole trusts Kyle more than the other kids because he's a super-genius and not a regular, impulsive teenager. Also increasingly justified as the super-genius starts to change into actual superpowers and the parents, though they legitimately try to keep an eye on their charges, are increasingly outgunned.
  • This is in full effect in Stranger Things with Mike and his friends in the first half of the season, and even moreso near the end. Stranger Danger hadn't yet kicked in in 1983, so this wouldn't have been unusual, especially in a small-town setting. Somewhat averted in Stranger Things 2, as the kids usually have the supervision of Hopper, Bob, Joyce, or Steve (who is himself only a teenager). Then again, Nancy and Jonathan do travel far enough away from Hawkins that they have to spend the night in a motel, and they're only teenagers. Also, Eleven travels to Chicago of all places during the season, although this does send Hopper into a frenzy, especially when he discovers she hitched a ride with a "nice man in a truck".
  • In Tiere bis unters Dach, the kids go pretty much anywhere they want in Waldau and the surrounding forests and farms. In one case, they even go over to a neighboring town to investigate a suspected pet-napping ring. The parents never seem to worry except when someone actually ends up in danger.
  • Zoey 101 practically revolves around this. Despite being in high school (as well as Dustin being a middle schooler), the students are able to go pretty much wherever without any adult supervision. The fact that it's a campus a lot of them hang out at makes it seem as if they were in college instead.
  • This trope is usually deconstructed and portrayed as negative in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. It is usually because of Parental Neglect and is often the cause of children being kidnapped, injured, or raped. One episode has Munch mentioning to a ten-year-old boy that, when he was his age, his parents wouldn't even let him ride around the block on his bike but the boy goes on the subway by himself.
  • All over the place in Yeralash, where the kids from the elementary up are seen to freely wander around the city, using public transport, etc., because the children are generally allowed much more independence from the early age in Russia, compared to the US.
  • Eerie, Indiana:
    • Poor Simon is completely ignored by his parents, who constantly fight with each other. The Tellers become his surrogate family.
    • Likewise, Sara Bob's family in "Who's Who". Her dad is physically present but Sara Bob has to care for him as well as her hellion brothers.
  • We Are Who We Are: Fraser and other Army brats seem to wander around base freely (along with the surrounding area). He especially goes very far afield and has to be picked up by Maggie when he's lost.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Chica Show: When it comes to the cartoon segments, Chica is one, as parents Mr. and Mrs. C (both puppets) only appear in the live-action segments.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes is more deeply philosophical than most 6-year-olds, and is allowed to ride his wagon all over creation, because behind his house apparently there's some kind of national park. This may be a case of an Unreliable Narrator (in addition to the time Calvin runs away from home and figures he must be in the next state by the time he's a few hundred feet away, he also believes he's been to Mars, traveled back in time, and transformed himself into an owl, for example). Everything looks bigger to six-year-old Calvin.
  • Peanuts. The strip began in 1950 but hit this trope due to being a long runner and with the introduction of Peppermint Patty's Cast Herd, who take the bus across town by themselves whenever they visit Charlie Brown's neighborhood. Then again, adults barely exist except for the "wah-wah" speech in the cartoons, or a few brief appearances in a few of them. Linus's Halloween tradition of spending all night in the Pumpkin Patch was cut short by being forced inside at 9 PM the year his Gramma was babysitting. The opinion his parents have of the matter is never brought up.
  • The Perishers, being a kind of quirky British take on the same concept as Peanuts, also does this. Every year the kids go off on summer holiday without any kind of adult supervision.
  • Rupert Bear and his chums have lots of adventures, often in exotic far-off places, but their parents never worry about their safety.
  • Heart and Dean get into some wild adventures away from home in Heart of the City.
  • This strip of Baby Blues.

  • In episode three of Mystery Show, called "Belt Buckle," the titular belt buckle was found on the ground by a boy named Jimmy Turk before being given to Starlee's client, Carson. Carson describes Jimmy as a good kid who just had a lot of unsupervised time, which let him wander around finding things like mysterious belt buckles and (allegedly) sticks of dynamite.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Monsters and Other Childish Things can easily go this way as the game focuses on young children and adolescents who have befriended Eldritch Abominations, and must deal with the trials and tribulations of childhood complicated by their new friends. Kids from broken homes and latchkey children are not uncommon Player Characters.
  • Empress Elisabetta Barbados in Anima: Beyond Fantasy. Despite being just 12-year old and ruling alone the most powerful nation of the game's setting, she likes to leave the palace to live adventures causing lots of headaches to those adults close to her.
  • Kids on Bikes - Tabletop RPG about free-range kids solving mysteries and saving the town. Very rules-light system. Hyper RPG, a professional tabletop RPG streaming channel, is running Kollok 1991, which is a Stranger Things-esque game / campaign using Kids on Bikes RPG.
  • Tales from the Loop & Things from the Flood - Tabletop RPG about free-range kids solving mysteries. Uses Year Zero rules engine.

    Video Games 
  • Mega Man Battle Network: Lan and Mega Man save the world left and right and wander about it, but Lan is only 11 years old and in fifth grade (a year or two older in later games). Lan's parents sometimes show worry, but he's still able to battle dangerous criminals without being held up in his room. To say nothing about Mayl, Dex, and Yai. While they occasionally can't accompany Lan to something or other due to something during the main plot, they always at least try to follow Lan into the evil base at the end of each game. The epitome of this has to be the 5th game where Yai manages to take the entire gang to a deserted island two hours away from home. And then they go to explore an abandoned mine with predictable results. You'd think after that their parents would never let them go anywhere on their own again. The second anime eventually solves this by making Lan a "Net Savior", basically an agent of the Net Police. After this he stops randomly wandering into criminals on random adventures and is actively dispatched into crime scenes and anyone attempting to stop him on the grounds that a dangerous site is no place for a child will immediately yield when he shows them his badge.
  • Mega Man Star Force: In the second game, Geo goes running off to other countries. His mom doesn't seem to notice her son's absence. Although at one point she scolds Geo when he returns home in the early morning. Geo can travel the world at high speeds using his radio wave abilities though so it's understandable she doesn't notice as he can leave his room to adventure then return before she even notices he's gone.
  • Pokémon:
    • The characters wander about their local region at a young age, with little concern from any adults. Although to be fair, the regions appear to so small that if one chucked a rock hard enough, it could cross several cities. It also makes sense that only children with tamed Pokémon are allowed to roam freely. It seems to almost be a rite of passage. Even then, most child trainers don't appear to really go far from home until they're in their teens, with this even being the case for the protagonist in Black and White, its direct sequel, and X and Y. Regardless, it's still a bit odd seeing very young trainers, such as preschoolers and the kids you see at beaches being farther from home than Campers and Youngsters. The beach kids, at least, usually make some reference to their parents being around (in RBY, one of them notes that her mom won't let her swim without a float ring).
    • Partially deconstructed in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. It is treated as very dangerous for the protagonist and their rival to head out into tall grass without any Pokemon. It's only until after the first encounter with the villain team of the game about 10-15 minutes into the game and they get their starter Pokemon that they consider going to the town down the road by themselves.
    • Deconstructed in Pokémon Black and White, as the teenage Bianca's father goes nuts at the thought of his daughter traveling out there alone in the dangerous world. Reconstructed as he's reminded that his daughter isn't alone, as she has regular contact with her friends, has monster bodyguards, and that roaming the world is a good way to expand one's horizons.
    • This is deconstructed yet again in Pokémon Sun and Moon, though Played for Laughs. Team Skull is a street gang made up of a bunch of teenagers and young adults, some of them from abusive homes, who turned to a life of petty crime because failing their Island Challenges has left them homeless, jobless, and with almost zero self-esteem. Unlike every other villain team in the series, their biggest concern is just getting enough money to buy food from day-to-day. The locals regard them as annoyances at worst and pitiable at best, with few characters treating any of their grievances seriously.
    Team Skull, represent! We can't pay the rent!
    Had a lot of fun, but our youth was misspent.
  • Nine-year-old Pearl is incredibly sheltered in Ace Attorney and barely knows anything about the outside world, probably because of her mother. However, after Morgan's arrest it can be assumed that the other women in the village are taking care of her. So why do these women let Pearl walk to Los Angeles by herself (a two-hour train ride from the village) and constantly hang out with Maya and Nick? Is anyone paying attention to this kid? But it's because that's a Japanese game, and portrays mainly Japanese society with some Eagleland Osmosis. It's pretty normal in Japan for nine-year-old kids to commute around all by themselves. Even sheltered ones.
  • Mother:
    • The first two MOTHER games are somewhat egregious examples, but Mother 3 justifies it by having the island be a former utopia.
    • In EarthBound, Ness realizes his tremendous role as leader of The Chosen Four, gaining support from his family and his close friends in his hometown, Paula's parents know their daughter has a destiny to fulfill (and how strong she and Ness are), Dr. Andonuts believes that Jeff can take care of himself, despite the fact that they haven't seen each other for 10 years, and Prince Poo is on a mission from his ancestors, something his people take very seriously.
    • Even protagonists aside, kids Ness's age or even younger can be seen here and there without direct accompaniment, such as a little girl near the path leading from Onett to Twoson or a young boy on the path from Twoson to Peaceful Rest Valley.
  • The Sims:
    • In The Sims 3, any Sim older than toddler can go anywhere in town the player or their own free will sends them, subject to curfew restrictions on children and teens.
    • Same for The Sims Medieval, which actually makes some sense, as children would have been working in their family's trade, given errands, and/or sent to a scholar for lessons. Add in the fact that unlike real medieval kids, Sims Medieval kids can't actually be hurt by anything, and you have a pretty justified example.
    • Averted with a vengeance in The Sims 2, where even latchkey kids who are home alone after school while the parents work are likely to draw the attention of the Social Worker. Going Downtown to a nightclub on their own is right out.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy X-2. Well, of course. The world of Spira is filled with children who have been made orphans due to Sin killing off the parents. Some, such as Shinra, have found new guardians, at least, of a sort. Others, such as a Calli, Lian & Ayde, and the Kinderguardians are definitely very free-range. Many of them are more than capable of fighting basic fiends and journey the globe much like the player characters.
    • The original also deserves a mention: Rikku is only 15 for the duration of the story, and Cid seems fine with letting her hop across Spira, by foot or airship - even inside the Big Bad Sin. Possibly justified by the fact that she is a capable fighter, and she's travelling with several older people (ranging in age from 17 to 35), one of whom is a legendary guardian.
  • Most of the Sonic the Hedgehog characters are minors (Tails is 8, Amy is 12, Sonic is 15, etc.), and very few of them have legal guardians. Cream (6) lives with her mother Vanilla, Charmy and Espio have Vector, and Blaze is a princess and is stated to have a living family, though they are unseen. In some cases, an explanation is given; Tails is an orphan and was the only inhabitant of a very small island before meeting Sonic, and Knuckles is the last of his species. The rest are unexplained.
  • Limbo, where the child protagonist wanders through a forest and a seemingly-abandoned factory. Other children try to kill you. There are no adults.
  • The Disgaea series often has adolescent protagonists who operate with no adult supervision, even traveling to other universes, and fighting constantly. Justified since the characters are mostly demons, meaning A) they are actually Really 700 Years Old, they just have the bodies and maturity of teenagers, B) demonic parents (if they are still around at all) don't really care what they get up to (best seen in Disgaea 3 where Raspberyl and her friends give themselves a curfew specifically to annoy their parents) and C) they are so powerful that they wield abilities like punching people into the sun or landing meteors on their enemies heads.
  • Tomodachi Life doesn't have many differences between adult and kid Miis, other than kids not being able to get married. This means that Kid Miis move into and live in their own apartments, wander the island and get part-time jobs without any parents or guardians in sight.
  • Deconstructed in Umineko: When They Cry when Rosa frequently leaves her nine-year-old daughter Maria alone so she can run off on vacation with her boyfriend, and other adults like the owner of a local convenience store are troubled to see her wandering around with nothing but her stuffed lion that she talks to as though it's alive. Any attempts to intervene with social services usually ends badly, and it's acknowledged to be traumatizing for Maria.
  • Yes, Your Grace: Maya explains showing up at the castle alone at age twelve by her parents letting her roam around while they're working. It turns out that the real reason is that her father is leading a group of refugees that has been mistaken for a invading army by the player character's scouts, so he has several reasons to not be keeping a close eye on Maya.
  • Yo-Kai Watch allows the elementary-aged protagonist to run around wherever they please with no issue. They spend all day running around town, running to other towns, and even traveling by train alone in Yo-kai Watch 2. This is played with when it comes to night, though. On one hand, they use a youkai to sneak out. On the other hand, NPCs only mildly scold you if they see you walking around in the middle of the night.
  • Princess Maker 2: The player can send Olive out into town or even on adventures to distant parts of the kingdom completely on her own. Though, in the case of the adventures, Cube will always rescue her if she gets into too much trouble, implying he's somehow keeping on eye on her.

  • Fi's mother in Storywisher is apparently fine with her daughter and nephew wandering through the woods alone.
  • Project 0 this scene only starts to feel out of place when you realize that they're 13
  • Cyanide & Happiness demonstrates that leashes aren't so bad in comparison.
  • Bad Machinery. Most of the time; though in one storyline, with a predator terrorizing the town, the parents do clamp down on the kids' movements, interfering with their sleuthing; and in another, they need to pretend to be at one another's houses in order to free themselves to go out at night.
  • Manly Guys Doing Manly Things parodies the Pokémon tradition with Jared Kowalski, a teenager who balked at the idea of leaving home on a Pokemon journey (because it would separate him from his Xbox games), until his parents got fed up and kicked him out of the house. They were shocked and upset that he wouldn't take off to Walking the Earth with his pet Pokémon.
  • In Erstwhile, following the "Snow-White and Rose-Red" Fairy Tale, the girls' mother is untroubled by how they slept in the forest overnight.
  • In Frivolesque, you have fourth grader Mimi and her friends often hanging around town with no adults around.
  • Precocious has the Sapphire Lake kids (and on occasion others) wandering around the neighbourhood, and in one arc they go downtown. Tiffany's thoughts? 'I was told lowlifes and villains hang out here [the corner of Cruelty Ave and Evil Rd]. But it's only us! Where are they?'
  • Dawn of Time initially appears to be a feral child. Mantell is shocked to find that she has a home and parents... but her parents explain that they could never hold on to her for long.
  • Deconstructed in Camp Weedonwantcha: the campers' parents don't mind them running around in the wild without supervision because they don't care about them at all. In addition, the kids get seriously injured and sick quite often, and it's heavily implied there have been a few casualties.
  • Flora in Forest Hill was raised in a hippy community and could do whatever she felt like doing including never having to wear any clothes .
  • It ain't called "Latchkey Kingdom" for nothin'. Willa is 13 years old and Dungeon Crawls half because it's fun, and half because she lives alone most of the time and has to have some way of paying for food. The society of Hilla accepts Free Range Children as the norm and will happily sell swords, explosives, and booze to any kid who can afford it.
  • Exaggerated in Atshi’s backstory in Anecdote of Error. Her sister, Mishmai, took her halfway around the world to another continent all by herself, to get her medical treatment from a healer friend free of charge. Mishmai was twelve and Atshi was five at the time.
  • Sam, from Questionable Content can be this, although she usually turns up at Faye’s repair business or Dora’s coffee shop, both of whom know her father and let him know where she is.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Deconstructed in Avatar: The Last Airbender, where a bunch of kids can travel around the world because, with the exception of a few characters, all of their parents are either dead or busy fighting the war. It doesn't help that every one of the kids is essentially a Child Soldier. There's also some Deliberate Values Dissonance involved; sixteen-year-olds are considered full adults, and many of the villains have high military rank despite being in the same age range as the heroes.
    • In the sequel, The Legend of Korra, Korra is implied to have never had this because unlike Aang, she has been watched over and protected by her parents and the White Lotus her whole life; even as an older teenager, adults object to her running around Republic City willy-nilly. Mako and Bo Lin, by contrast, were orphaned as children and so were basically nothing but free-range.
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series: Lilo is about seven years old and yet she and Stitch run about Hawaii finding Stitch's cousins with little older supervision. Mertle, who says she's the best hula dancer in the seven-year-old division in Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, also seems to have a bit more freedom than most children as she travels with her friends. It is kind of justified that Lilo's allowed some freedom after Stitch joins the ʻohana, though. Do you want to imagine what would happen to a normal person who tried to harm or kidnap the girl while her super-strong and rather protective alien "dog" was there? She was also being left alone like this in the original movie even before Stitch came into the picture. It explains a lot about why Social Services had their eye on Nani.
  • The Loud House and its spinoff The Casagrandes: Lincoln and most of the kids his age are allowed to traverse town themselves without any adult supervision. Only Lily is the sole exception.
  • Hey Arnold!:
    • The kids in the story are about 9 years old and in fourth grade, but they run about the city with little concern from their parents. Their maturity level also seems to suggest middle/high schoolers opposed to elementary schoolers.
    • In a flashback this is used for drama with Helga's parents. When Helga was five at oldest, she had to walk to her first day of preschool by herself because her parents were too busy fawning over her older sister Olga. To make it worse, it was raining. This Parental Neglect badly affected Helga.
  • Doug: The sixth-graders seem to be much more like high schoolers, even though it is stated that Doug is only about 11. The gang run about their town with little concern from Mom and Dad, although Doug sometimes needs his older sister to drive him places. A particularly egregious example is in "Doug's Hot Ticket", where he and Skeeter travel to a town more than 60 miles away... in a bus full of complete strangers. Granted, it is Doug's former hometown that they're traveling to (Bloatsburg), but still...
  • Arthur: Many scenes in many episodes involve the main 8-year-old third-grader cast biking around the town (which was relatively large) by themselves, eating out at the local ice cream parlor, with no parents in tow. Looking at these kids, they seemed more like middle schoolers/early high schoolers than elementary schoolers.
  • South Park: The kids are the same age as those from Arthur and have even more "adult" adventures, with little interference from their parents. There was one episode where Stan goes to New York to return a margarita maker, and you never see Randy or Sharon questioning where their son has gone, despite the fact he's on the other side of the country by himself. In "Night of the Living Homeless," they go so far as to applaud the fact that the boys are driving a bus cross-country by themselves, as it spares them the trouble of stopping the homeless problem. On the very rare occasions when their parents are aware that they're missing, the approach they take to getting them back is...less than effective, to say the least. Then again, all of the adults on South Park have the Idiot Ball every episode. The kids have also been to Ethiopia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Peru, Costa Rica, Imaginationland, at least two other solar systems, and Canada. In the episode "Child Abduction is Not Funny", this was done deliberately by the parents as their final solution to the child abduction crisis, as they have become too paranoid to even trust themselves to actually protect their children. The kids end up living with the Mongolians that have been attacking the wall surrounding the town.
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius: Jimmy and friends, who are in probably fifth grade, are given incredibly free rein, often making trips to space, Egypt, and the depths of the ocean with minimum interference from parents. There are a few instances where Jimmy is prevented from flying in his homemade rocket into space (Without a space helmet even!) before finishing his chores, but still, that is incredibly free rein. On a typical day, the kids will go down to the local fast food joint to hang out, and their parents are nowhere in sight. Subverted in Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius where the plot revolved around the kids feeling annoyed about the restrictions their parents keep placing on them. But really, the only thing they kept him from doing was going to a theme park on a school night, which really isn't that bad.
  • Kim Possible is only a teenager, but her parents have no problem with her traveling the world and defeating evil masterminds, just as long as she doesn't go out with any boys. Still, she's somehow managed to build a global network of contacts that she's done favors for and can get a ride to anywhere on Earth.
  • Scooby-Doo:
    • A Pup Named Scooby-Doo: Their parents are mentioned and even shown a few times, yet they hardly ever give the kids any restrictions, allowing them to run freely around Coolsville, running from creeps and unmasking them.
    • Their traditional selves are canonically high school age (the oldest two being seventeen and Velma being fourteen) but can travel cross country and get into serious situations without adults. The original premise handwaved this since they were musicians on tour but the actual series says nothing about it. Averted in many later incarnations where they're age lifted into adults.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The show does this frequently and lampshades it with jokes about Homer's neglectfulness as a parent. It is also (coincidentally?) the trope namer, as this phrase is seen in the Halloween episode, Treehouse of Horror V, although it was used rather more literally in that context, the opposite / an inversion of this trope.
      As they tiptoe down the hall, Bart can't resist looking into the detention room. It's now set up with small cages in which children are given some sort of IV. Martin looks haggard in his cage and he shakes convulsively, bringing an admonishment from Skinner: "Easy there, young man, you'll only make yourself tired and stringy. Now, to check on the free-range children," he continues, looking out the window at a pasture of children running around.)
    • Averted in the season 27 episode "Orange Is The New Yellow" Marge gets arrested because she let Bart go to the park by himself. Marge mentions in court that when she was a kid she was allowed to be alone outside all day, which gets her mother retroactively arrested.
  • Stewie Griffin from Family Guy: A 1-year-old who is able to get his hands on the parts to construct superscientific devices and weapons and is frequently far from home, with little concern from Lois. (Lack of concern from Peter is expected.) However, he's still working on how to use the toilet. (Stewie, that is.) But Brian the dog does serve as a guardian for Stewie.
  • The Rugrats franchise often has a problem with this;
    • In Rugrats, the parents keep the babies in a playpen, but they just walk away from them after they are put away, allowing them to escape and roam about with no interference. This gets ridiculous in one episode, in which the parents are visiting a store. They put the kids down, and literally walk away like it is nobody's business.
    • All Grown Up!: One particular episode involved the 11-year-olds Tommy and Chuckie going down to a warehouse in another part of town at night where two possible criminals could have been working, in order to protect Kimi.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: A few of the main characters are not adults yet run all about saving the Earth, but we never hear any complaints from any of the moms and dads about what their kids are doing (the one or two that are still alive, that is). They have powers but that isn't much better.
  • Rocket Power: The late elementary school cast runs all about Ocean Shores with little concern from their parents. To be fair, Ray tends to be laid back about everything, except when the gang really screws up. He also works in a restaurant near the beach and skate park, where the kids usually are. Twister's parents, just say to him when he gets in trouble, "We'll talk about this later," and little is usually shown after that. Sam's mom is pretty fussy, but he still tags along wherever the gang goes. And presumably, she wants him to be within a certain area where he can contact an adult. Also it looks like the kids are more around a certain area of Ocean shores. Most of the action takes place around their cul-de-sac and the pier which is right where Ray works. There are a couple occasions where they appear to go outside the zone and have to use a GPS, or get in trouble when they're caught doing something unsafe like surfing in a channel.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy is usually an aversion, as the action is typically restricted to the cul-de-sac and adjacent areas, like in plenty other suburban areas. For the Big Damn Movie, however, the characters travel across country without supervision (justified with the Eds, who are essentially on the lam, not so much for the others), crossing sweltering deserts, festering swamps, and abandoned factories. The Eds are even "driving" a car at one point (meaning that Ed is running through the bottom of the car, Flintstones style).
  • On The Fairly OddParents, Timmy and the other kids will be seen wandering the town on their own when the plot calls for it. One episode had Timmy biking through the desert and at a fast-food restaurant at night without his parents. He also tends to spend extended amounts of time in Fairy World without his parents noticing. As in South Park, 99% of the adults in the show aren't exactly the brightest bulbs on the tree.
  • Dora the Explorer and her cousins in Go, Diego, Go!. Dora is a little girl let run around the rain forest with her equally young monkey friend, while Diego and his sister aren't even high schoolers yet go on animal rescue missions on their own. In Dora and Friends: Into the City! Dora is a preteen with a group of similarly aged friends yet they are allowed full range of the city.
  • The Wild Thornberrys: i.e. the one about the little girl who wanders around the jungle with no parental supervision, avoiding crises and conversing with the local wildlife with the aid of her foreign language-speaking monkey and her Raised by Wolves little brother. To be fair, Mr. and Mrs. Thornberry's biggest failing as parents is that they seem to put too much trust in their teenage daughter Debbie to keep an eye on things while they're away studying said local wildlife. In the Big Damn Movie, when they discover that Eliza's managed to chase after a poacher despite having been sent to a London boarding school, they're horrified that Eliza would put herself in that much danger.
  • Invader Zim: None of the parents seem to pay any attention to their kids, but Dib and Gaz have extra free range on account of their dad being a Cloudcuckoolander Mad Scientist. One episode seems to lampshade the trope when Zim himself gets lost by trying to go to a different part of town on his own.
  • On Rupert, Rupert and his friends travel around the world and back, consort with all sorts of mythological creatures... and then are told by their parents that they're too young to go camping out without parental supervision.
  • Ben 10:
    • In both the original and 2016 series, part of ten-year-old cousins Ben and Gwen's free rein comes from their elderly grandfather Max, who is driving them around the United States for their summer camping trip and is not as physically fit as he was in his younger days. The original series has less justification, as that continuity had Max as part of an interstellar police/counter-terrorist organization for most of his adult life, which you'd think would give him the common sense to keep better watch around Ben, who happens to have one of the most powerful pieces of technology in the galaxy but repeatedly disregards caution and attacks alien evildoers with no concern for the consequences. In both versions, but especially the original, Gwen's maturity in accessing dangerous situations somewhat of justifies the lack of supervision.
    • Averted in the second series, Ben 10: Alien Force, where Ben has matured noticeably from his hyperactive young self, but still happens to be a 15-year-old boy dealing in potentially fatal missions on an intergalactic scale. The only reason his parents don't put the leash on him is that they are not even aware of his escapades until the episode "Grounded", at which point they forbid him from using his Omnitrix and restrict his day-to-day activities for fear of his safety. Which he promptly ignores, because there's absolutely nothing they can do to enforce it when he can transform at will into dozens of super-powered aliens. His parents lift the punishment before the episode is even close to over.
  • Big City Greens: In addition to the family traversing Big City, Cricket, Tilly, and their other kid friends are allowed to traverse themselves without adult supervision.
  • This trope may be an understatement in Codename: Kids Next Door. The child-based organization's operatives get their training in an Arctic Base built in the coldest part of Antarctica, they are brought to the Moon (toward the KND Moonbase, natch) to be submitted into the KND when training's finished, and while they're KND Operative, usually depending on their job within the KND, may be sent anywhere in the world, all with their parents taking little to no notice. In some cases their parents notice, and often even approve. In fact, Numbuh 5 points out to Numbuh 4 that the KND only fight evil adults — while their parents may be kind of strict and perhaps embarrassing at times, they aren't necessarily "evil" and only want what's best for their children.
  • In Daria, the high-school-aged kids walk around Lawndale without a driver's license until later on.
  • My Little Pony:
    • This essentially applies to Megan, Molly, and Danny in the original incarnation of My Little Pony, as well as the baby ponies whenever the plot calls for it.
    • This also applies to the main characters in My Little Pony Tales as well. They're all quite young yet go on adventures around anywhere they please with little issue.
    • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
      • There are the Cutie Mark Crusaders, who are able to wander all over town and the overlying regions with no supervision, even into the local Eldritch Location on occasion. Sweetie Belle's parents only appear once; otherwise she's in the care of her older sisterRarity. It's eventually revealed in Season 7 that the Apple Bloom had parents, but it's all but outright stated that they died. According to a licensed book (and later confirmed in the show), Scootaloo is mainly raised by her aunts because her parents are busy with work (which turns out to be exploring far-off territories for scientific work). It's debatable exactly how old the CMC are, however. If one views Cutie Marks as an analogy to puberty the trio could very well be the equivalent of 9 or 10 in human years (possibly even older) which is plenty old enough to be wandering around a sleepy rural village on their own.
      • Subverted in the episode "Dragon Quest", where the girls let Spike go alone on a quest to join migrating dragons, but it turns out they were planning to follow him all along anyway.
      • In "Just for Sidekicks", nobody apparently bats an eye at them being missing while they head off with Spike on a train ride to the Crystal Empire.
      • While not explored in-show, Word of God says that Starlight Glimmer was a latch-key kid as a child.
  • Fanboy and Chum Chum apparently take care of themselves; in fact, their parents are unmentioned. The same with Kyle. They still do attend school, though.
  • Gary and Joel are Unsupervised, they have no parents with them and are left to figure everything out by themselves.
  • The heroes in SheZow are able to go to far-off places thanks to the Shehicle.
  • Inspector Gadget doesn't seem to keep that close an eye on Penny, although she does seem to fly around often with the family dog Brain. Then again, maybe that's for the best because the inspector is seen as a bumbling idiot and sometimes ends up in a situation where he could lose his life and make Penny a possible foster child. Episodes sometimes start in places where the bulk of the action takes place. Examples include the circus, New York, and the arctic.
  • Maisy is a highly odd example. Not only is There Are No Adults in effect, but the characters, a cute female mouse and her friends go where they want, do what they want, drive cars, fly planes, take their own baths, etc. Really, there's nothing explicitly indicating that they aren't adults, other than their very childlike appearance, childlike babble speech and tendency to play with toys and stuffed animals (not that adults don't ever do that last one, of course.)
  • In Emily and the Baba Yaga, the adults send Emily off alone into the forest, and her father doesn’t seem to worry.
  • Max and Ruby features an older sister who seems to care for her younger brother 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with only sporadic intervention by their grandmother. The two regularly go shopping across town via bus, among other things. Supposedly the parents are offscreen but nothing suggests this in-series. At least until the 2016 Retool, which added on-screen parents.
  • Out of all the main characters of My Life as a Teenage Robot, Jenny is the only one who has an onscreen parent. Parents of others such as Brad and Tuck, Sheldon, and the Crust Cousins are never seen nor mentioned.
  • In both The Lion King (1994) and The Lion King II: Simba's Pride this is averted as cubs get scolded for wandering too far away from Priderock. In The Lion Guard, Kion and his friends seem barely older than Simba was in the first half of the original film yet are allowed to run around everywhere, even into the Outlands. They are at least partially justified due to being Kid Heroes however Kion's only slightly older sister Kiara and her friends can do the same despite not having any powers.
  • On Goldie & Bear, Goldie, Bear, and the others pretty much have the run of Fairytale Forest on their own. Their parents are apparently entirely unconcerned about there being any real danger within it that could trouble unsupervised children.
  • Averted in 3-2-1 Penguins! Jason and Michelle do have adult supervision when going on their space adventures, namely the eponymous penguins.
  • Maggie in Maggie and the Ferocious Beast wanders around Nowhere Land with her Beast, completely unsupervised—except for maybe Hamilton—despite being only six. However, she's also pretty responsible for a six-year-old.
  • Word Party: Well, they do ask you if they can go outside, but then you have no control over where they go once you say yes.
  • On Creative Galaxy, show star Arty often travels into outer space and other planets accompanied by nobody but his small shape-shifting blob friend Epiphany.
  • Kaeloo: None of the characters are more than 13 years old, yet they do random things like going to outer space, fighting aliens, buying weapons, drinking alcohol, etc. and nobody has any problem with it. Though it's somewhat justified since There Are No Adults in Smileyland, and especially in Mr. Cat and Quack Quack's cases since the former is a runaway and the latter is an orphan. Averted in Episode 33, where Stumpy's mother sees him juggling chainsaws on TV and calls him so she can tell him to stop because it's too dangerous.
  • DuckTales (2017): The triplets and Webby are hit with cases of Disappeared Dad and Missing Mom, leaving them free to go off on their own adventures. Helping this case is the fact that Great-Uncle Scrooge and Grandma Beakley are totally fine with letting the kids go off on their own, as long as they let the adults know. And as for Uncle Donald, well, he's tied up trying find a job to support his nephews, and by the end of the pilot episode, has accepted the fact that the nephews have inherited the family's adventuring genes too.
  • In Ready Jet Go!, the children are always doing stuff on their own, such as building a treehouse. Craig Bartlett even stated that the kids' adventures are supposed to be similar to his childhood adventures where the kids would just run around without adult supervision. Although, the kids do have adult supervision in space. Taken Up to Eleven in One Small Step, which marks the first time that the kids go to space by themselves. However, they got Carrot and Celery's permission to go by themselves.
  • The Mystery Twins in Gravity Falls are given fairly free range of the town whenever they don't have to work in the Mystery Shack. Granted, the other employees of the shack often hang out with them, but Soos is essentially a manchild, and Wendy is only a few years older than the twins herself. Increasingly averted in season 2, when their grunkles begin to spend more time with them. Played straight by Lil' Gideon, whose parents simply can't control him, and he does whatever he wants whether they like it or not.
  • Taken to it's natural conclusion in Phineas and Ferb. They frequently build amazing inventions in their backyard, and doing so often takes them all across the town of Danville. Certain episodes have them travelling around the world or to the north pole. Whenever they get questioned (which is frequent, especially in early seasons), they agree that yes, they ARE a little young to be doing the activity in question. Naturally, their parents never find out about any of their schemes.
  • The Peanuts franchise combines this with Adults Are Useless:
    • While a staple of the Peanuts franchise as stated above, it's taken to extreme in Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown. Here the children, while in summer camp, embark on a multi-day raft race through a mountainous river without any adult supervision. They encounter dangerous rapids. They are apparently high enough in the mountains that it snows in the summer. They luck out and find a warm cabin to spend the night. All the while, they have to deal with "bullies" who are actually a group of psychopaths who actually try to kill them by sending them down a dangerous fork in the river.
    • It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is pushing it even by 1960s standards. Linus is allowed to sit in a pumpkin patch all alone on a dark night and he even falls asleep outside. It's his sister (not his parents) who decide to bring him home.
  • This is usually averted in Caillou but one episode, "Caillou Walks Around the Block", involves four-year-old Caillou getting out of the house on his own and walking around town. It is a Banned Episode on PBS precisely because Caillou is unattended while outdoors.
  • A "Superstar" segment of Jem features eight-year-old Ba Nee walking home with two kids. The blonde girl, who is even younger than Ba Nee, somehow went to the pharmacy and picked up her dad's prescription pain medicine all by herself.
    • It used to be extremely common to send children on errands like these, including to buy cigarettes. You gave them an extra nickel to buy something for themselves as well.
  • The Crumpets: King, a lion-costumed boy who is one of the three youngest of the 142 Crumpet children, learns that the captive exotic animals owned by his adult brother Grownboy are endangered by his sister Caprice, their Evil Uncle Hurried and Granny. Offscreen, he travels from the family's house to Grownboy's house on a high-rise in the middle of the city, arriving with facial bruises and his costume slightly worn out.
  • In the Ewoks episode, "The Land of the Gupins," Wicket and his friends agree to help the Gupins almost at the drop of a hood. However, there is also an apparent last-minute comment by Teebo, depicted in the distance as an imposed voice over line, that they intend to speak to their Elders first, and the scene changes to the characters on their way with permission to go apparently granted.
  • The main students from Class of 3000 seem to be able to travel around Atlanta with no issues despite all being in the 12/13 age bracket, or in the Christmas Episode, flying to the North Pole. In some cases, this is justified by it being a class exercise and they're with Sunny.
  • In Curious George, all the child characters, in both the city and country, are allowed to wander about their communities freely. The oldest of the children, Bill, is a young teen or nearly a teen but the others are all in elementary age, with the youngest, Allie, being a kindergartener. This applies to George as well, who is often referred to as a "little monkey" and is essentially a child; The Man with the Yellow Hat trusts him to travel about both the city and country with no supervision.
  • In Steven Universe, the titular protagonist moved out of his father's van and into virtually his own house so he could focus more on training with the Crystal Gems when he was still very young (the gems have an adjoining temple they live in). Additionally, he roams around the beach and the boardwalk unsupervised with nary an eye batted by the other adults in the town.
    • Averted though with his best friend Connie, whose parents (especially her mother) are incredibly strict and overprotective. As Connie learns to assert herself better, her parents realize their authoritarian style of parenting was only pushing Connie away, and they loosen up to the point that they allow Connie to accompany Steven on missions in later seasons.
  • Moral Orel deconstructs this trope. While Orel and his friends often run around town without adult supervision, this is shown to be because his and most of the other kids parents are incredibly neglectful. This usually leads to them causing havoc in town, such as raising the dead and causing a zombie apocalypse, impregnating women with bags of semen in the middle of the night, or destroying a manger scene in front of the Church, and only stopping them when it’s too late, and hardly doing anything to remedy the situation. In “Beforel Orel” it’s shown that Orel’s parents have been letting him run around a playground next to a Electric Tower since he was 4 YEARS OLD.

    Real Life 
  • Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette's essay "Savages," about herself and her brothers and sister in the village of Saint-Sauveur, is a prose poem about this.
  • If Charlotte Brontë and her sisters and brother hadn't been this, we probably wouldn't have their amazing novels and poetry today.
  • Gerald Durrell's childhood in Corfu was this, as related in My Family and Other Animals.
  • The Free-Range Parenting movement, kickstarted by journalist Lenore Skenazy when she let her then-nine-year-old son ride the New York subway home alone in 2008 causing her to be dubbed the "World's Worst Mom" by some detractorsnote , openly advocates for reduced parental supervision and letting children take on age-appropriate independent activities. Skenazy herself has written a book and hosted a television series extolling the virtues of more relaxed parenting.
  • This video found on YouTube discusses both sides of this trope.
  • As noted in Too Smart for Strangers and in a similar manner to Missing White Woman Syndrome, child abductions had a massive spike in news coverage in the '80s, which lead to a societal shift towards more attentive parenting and restrictions on kids being able to act independently. In reality, statistically child abductions are far more likely to be from family members (particularly disaffected divorced parents) or known acquaintances than complete strangers coming across them on the streetnote .
  • Japan zigzags this trope.
    • On one hand, it's very common to see school-aged children walking around freely or even riding the train without an adult. Since Japan has far less crime than in many other countries, in part because their society views everyone as part of an interconnected social group (basically, if you try and commit a felony in public, everyone sees you, and you're caught red-handed), it's generally viewed as much safer for kids to travel about unsupervised. A Japanese proverb, かわいい子供には旅をさせよ, is commonly interpreted as "if you love your children, send them out while they're young."
    • Averted once a kid enters middle school. Liberty gets severely limited at an age where you would expect them to acquire more liberties to socialize out of home, they're expected to get from home to school and vice versa alone but only trough a pre selected path, they can't use smartphones, just regular cellphones and only for emergencies. It should be noted that all of this is just in paper and can't actually stop kids, to counteract this you can get reprimanded in school for your personal activities outside of school hours and schools have been pushing cram schools which leaves kids with even less free time.
  • This trope is in full effect in many countries other than the United States (though Americanization turns more and more parents into helicopter parents). Especially prevalent in The Netherlands and Denmark where children who have outgrown the child seats of their parents' bicycle are expected to bike to and from school, after-school activities, etc... In other countries many towns have functional public transportation that isn't considered dangerous. Children frequently commute on this system on their own.
  • The documentary Class Action Park discusses this trope, saying that in the 80s, like in the movies of the decade, minors would basically seek adventure going around anywhere they wanted (one of the interviewees notes people would tell about their weekends saying "I went to my cousin's house" and "I ventured into an Abandoned Hospital and found a group of skinheads which pursued me" in the same tone). This included going on their own to the title park - basically a real life Amusement Park of Doom, with rides that often injured guests and even a few deaths to their name.


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