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Harmful to Minors

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"What do you suppose something like this does to a kid?"

There are a lot of things Moral Guardians believe kids should not be exposed to, and that doesn't just include violence and bad language. Issues such as sexuality, death of loved ones, bad guys winning, horrific historical events, and other things are generally kept from kids until they're considered mature enough to understand them, or at least handled with extreme sensitivity. Because Children Are Innocent.

But, sometimes a kid comes across something kids shouldn't see anyway. Maybe the kid accidentally opens the parents' bedroom door while they're getting it on. Maybe the kid has a parent who dies violently before their eyes. Maybe some other thing happens that throws the kid into the harsh realities of life before they're ready. Expect at least one image of Blood-Splattered Innocents.

Often used as a Freudian Excuse for iniquitous characters.

Note that this isn't about what is or isn't harmful to minors in real life. Plot device, people.

Compare Corruption of a Minor, Children Forced to Kill and What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?. Contrast Corruption by a Minor, Troubling Unchildlike Behavior, and Bloodbath Villain Origin. See Would Hurt a Child if some evildoer is specifically targeting a minor.

Example subpages

Other examples:

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Examples of kids being exposed to horrific violence:

    Comic Books 
  • At the very start of his Backstory, Bruce Wayne's parents were killed before his very eyes, which led him to become Batman.
  • The Darkness: Appolonia Franchetti was playing with her dolls one night until she saw her father blow-torching a man to death because he was sleeping with his wife, while Appolonia's mother was forced to watch, which destroyed her mind and made her catatonic. Appolonia noted that her childhood ended at that moment and she vowed to avenge her mother and make her father pay.
  • In IDW's recent Godzilla comics, one of the characters is a young girl who ends up losing her family in a kaiju attack. She also witnesses some pretty fucked up stuff during the course of the first series like brutal fistfights and violent kaiju battles. The main protagonist Frank Woods even admits that he doesn't think she'll be able to have a normal childhood after all this.
  • In Green Arrow: Quiver, when Oliver Queen is returned from the dead, part of the villain's plot is to kidnap the boy, Stanley, and expose him to murderous horrors to summon his monster companion. Eventually, the elder and younger Green Arrows come to rescue the kid, but the Monster appears too. The Monster refuses to obey the commands of the villain and eats him alive instead, with Oliver Queen staying aside, thinking it's an appropriate punishment. The Monster then frees Stanley and takes him home to erase all the traumatic memories to restore his innocence and mental health.
  • Heavily implied in issue #3 of IDW's My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, where Queen Chrysalis supposedly kills a kitten (off-frame) in front of three little fillies. Just to show them that she can. Yes, it is based on a TV-Y show.
  • Both versions of the Helena Bertinelli's Huntress's version involve this. In her original backstory, she was raped when she was six by a rival crime boss to torture her father. In the modified backstory Greg Rucka introduced in Cry for Blood, it was retconned that her family was killed while she was eight.
  • The basis of the character Todd Casil in Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, being the next-door neighbor of the titular character and a consistent witness to his activities. Todd witnesses things some things that would have adults running in terror. Todd later got his own Spin-Off - Squee - that exaggerated this, having the six-year-old abducted by aliens, befriended by The Antichrist, and committed to a mental asylum, in addition to his serial killer neighbor and Abusive Parents from the original series.
  • In one of the Jonny Quest comics ( likely the series from Comico), Dr. Quest has to rescue Jonny and Hadji from a dog-fighting ring that had stolen Bandit off the street as a, er, "training target" for the fighting dogs. When the fighting dogs get a shot at the head of the ring, Dr. Quest holds the boys' faces against his shoulders so they can't see what happens next.
  • Batwoman Kate Kane was kidnapped along with her mother and twin sister on her twelfth birthday, and the driver of their car was murdered in the attempt. While being held captive, she was subjected to the sounds of her mother being beaten, and then both her mother and sister were shot to death during her rescue. All this lead to Kate's single-minded desire to join the Army.
  • Red Robin Tim Drake saw Dick Grayson's parents die when he was at most 6, though probably younger, leading to his youthful obsession with Batman that included wandering around Gotham unaccompanied to try and get photos of the hero. Much later he arrived at the scene of his father's bloody murder moments after his father expired, which (in addition to the deaths of his girlfriend and two best friends that happened around the same time) caused a sharp and distinct change in his personality.
  • Marv from Sin City was tied to a tree and left overnight as a child and he mentions that he got his signature gun Gladys from a kid in high school, with the implication that he killed him. Considering the city he grew up in, this shouldn't be that surprising.
  • Shazam!: In a retelling of Captain Marvel's origin story, Billy Batson spends most of it treating the superhero gig as a fun adventure. Then his best friend Scott is fatally shot by assassins sent after Billy by Doctor Sivana and dies on the operating table despite Billy getting him to the hospital as quickly as possible. Billy as Captain Marvel bursts into Sivana's office and barely stops himself from killing him, then flies off to a deserted snow-peaked mountain and sobs over his best friend's death. Superman isn't happy that Shazam passed the burden of this power onto Billy (though he did it because Billy was the only person on Earth that Shazam could trust with that power) because "[Little kids] shouldn't have to worry about assassins attacking them and killing their best friends!"
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Lyta Milton is a direct observer of her mother's rampage against mankind, but as a toddler doesn't seem to understand the horror being shown to her until she watches her mother try to goad Wonder Woman into killing her as they fight and then laugh in response when she's beaten down and called out on being a Death Seeker. As her mother is Circe it was unlikely she'd have had a chance at a better childhood with her, and once she's been taken in by the Amazon several of them are unsettled by the changes her mother's actions have wrought on the child.
  • In her origin story, Supergirl is barely fifteen when she sees everyone in her hometown getting sick from radiation and suffering horrible, painful deaths.

    Fan Works 
  • In Child of the Storm, oh so very frequently with the younger characters. The full list would encompass entire pages, but since most of them are involved in Harry's antics, his will be sufficient. First of all, by the start of the story, he's faced everything he had up until the first Quidditch match in Prisoner of Azkaban, including at least four murder attempts, not counting the basilisk, and multiple exposures to Dementors. Believe it or not, it actually gets worse.
    • In the first book, he is: kidnapped by wraith-like monsters that want to eat him and his friends; witness to a brutal battle (the 'Battle of the M4'); attacked with his friends (and cousin) and trapped on a mountain at night, in a cave, surrounded by an army of monsters, sees several of his companions badly wounded, forced to duel a robotic killing machine directed by Baron Zemo, nearly roasted alive, and forced to watch as one of his friends (who he's developing feelings for) pulls an attempted Heroic Sacrifice; trapped in a memory of the former by his malfunctioning Psychic Powers, along with Ron, Hermione and one of his mentors; attacked at Hogwarts by HYDRA, forced to see the corpse of a friend ( Luna) who he'd been trying very hard to protect, caught up in a brutal fight with Daken, who kills him; a witness to his father being gunned down and put into a coma in front of him as he's attacked by HYDRA again; a participant in the apocalyptic Battle of London, having to fight all kinds of monsters, and ends up with Chthon in his brain.
    • In the sequel, he is: forced to Indy Ploy a way to save his friends from Voldemort's sick (and literal) mind games by resorting to Mind Rape; kidnapped with Carol by Sinister and the Red Room, and he sabotages his own Indy Ploy escape plan, resulting a horrific Trauma Conga Line that involves being his body being turned into their new assassin, the Red Son, which drives him insane, turning him into the Dark Phoenix and leaving him with world-class PTSD; put on parole by the Council Elite of Skyfathers with it being made clear that even one step out of line will result in his obliteration; forced to control himself and constantly resist the easy option of turning to the Phoenix to try and save Carol, nearly being beaten to death (twice) by Dracula, and seeing one of his best friends nearly killed, with an eye ripped out, by Dudley, his cousin - now a vampire - who he is then forced to kill, before resorting to almost draining himself of blood to save Carol... and that's just the edited highlights. Really, it's a wonder he's sane.
  • In the CATverse story Small World, Marilyn Keeny watches the Scarecrow, also her older half-brother, viciously murder their mother, and he later deliberately traumatizes her with the mangled corpse.
  • In Absolute Power Sucks Absolutely, Maxime strips Kahndaq's entire military naked for pointing guns at him, Captain Marvel, and Wonder Woman. Then he remembers that Cap is a ten-year-old in an adult's body and immediately rushes to cover Cap's eyes.
  • A Brighter Dark: Mozu's backstory is given a lot more focus, revealing that when bandits arrived her mother had her hide under the bed. Which ended up giving her a perfect view as her mother was repeatedly raped and murdered.
  • A Dark House Inadequate has two big examples. The first example is less "in your face" than the usual but for Lucy, Lisa and the twins, Lincoln admitting to trying to kill himself (and those are his exact words so while the twins don't understand the exact nature of his problems, they're very aware of what he tried to do) definitely counts; Lucy ends up begging Lincoln to let her sleep with him, cuddling him like a teddy bear when he agrees and openly saying she loves him (to his obvious surprise) and has a Please, Don't Leave Me moment in her dream that renders her grip on her brother almost impossible for him to break and the other girls don't react much better. Then he tries to suicide again and Lucy sees him from the vents. This is her response when Lincoln finally comes to again after being rushed to the hospital (which implies the other girls saw the end result of his second suicide attempt).
    "I don't want to lose my brother. Th-there was blood everywhere...I never want to see that again. Please never make us see that again, Lincoln..."
  • This piece of fanart by Earthsong9405 depicts Applejack and Big McIntosh watching their dad get killed by wolves. To make matters even worse, this headcanon reveals that their mother (who was pregnant with Apple Bloom) never recovered, and after giving birth, she soon fell sick and joined her husband in death.
  • A Growing Affection:
    • Yori was the last survivor of the Nochi clan (implied to have been killed in the front of her) and then was turned into a Tyke Bomb by Orochimaru. She was too kind to kill anyone, so she let the demon sealed within her do it. But she still had to watch the entire time.
    • Itachi's backstory is different from canon; he was nearly killed by Madara when he was a child, and then as a teen found his family being tortured to death, and was forced to euthanize them.
  • In Empire of the Pacific, Poor Lilo is forced to endure the horrors of the alternate timeline that she and Stitch cause from saving her parents from being killed in the car accident.
  • The ponies in Mutant see their home and mother figure destroyed. In the second chapter
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, a four-year-old Izuku gapes in horror when he nearly kills Bakugou by accidentally flinging him through a wall. The full extent of Bakugou's injuries is revealed in a later flashback: Bakugou's chest was torn open from end to end, his broken ribs were protruding from his chest, and there was blood everywhere. It's little wonder that Izuku is traumatized by his actions well into the events of the main story.
  • The Night Unfurls:
    • Violence of any kind is a constant that the main kid heroes, Sanakan, Hugh and Soren, have witnessed and experienced before meeting their mentor, Kyril. Chapter 4 has the former two under the predations of the Black Dogs. Sanakan is rounded up for an orgy, while Hugh is Left for Dead and bereft an eye. That is not getting to the nasty stuff they've gone through as street urchins, together with how Hugh got his throat mutilated before the events of the story. Soren, on the other hand, has suffered physical abuse by street thugs on a regular basis. Just... ouch. It is when they become Kyril's apprentices that their well-being starts to improve, though their job as hunters means they regularly participate in violence...
    • This trope is all over the place with the description of children being victims of war, rape, and slavery. Evidently, Eostia is not a kind place to children.
  • Paradoxus: Stella and Bloom's assassination is this to Trisha, Altalune, and Stacy. kid!Trisha witnesses the whole affair from the exact moment where Stella and Bloom's magical powers are nullified to their ruthless murder, therefore shattering her (justified) childish idea of her mother being invincible. She also tries to protect them using her bow, but predictably fails. And if that isn't enough, she too nearly dies in that incident. Altalune and Stacy later find the fresh corpses — pools of blood and gruesome injuries included. Trisha is ten, Altalune is eleven, and Stacy is twelve.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness Act II: After witnessing Dark's Extreme Mêlée Revenge on Miyabi for what he did to Mizorenote , Yukari promptly faints.
  • Shadows over Meridian: Goes two ways in the Cycle of Revenge plot at Snowpoint; when the Mogriffs were being driven out of their nesting grounds by the likes of Jesekiel Bexley, Metalbeak was only a hatchling when he first witnessed "the Nest Butcher" murdering his conspecifics regardless of age or gender. When he finally had Jesekiel at his mercy, the Butcher's little granddaughter Vera had the misfortune of being at the wrong place at the wrong time to witness her beloved grandfather having his heart torn out by Metalbeak and body mangled by the other Mogriffs. Metalbeak eventually admits that by forcing the girl through this traumatizing experience, he played a part in her becoming the new revenge-driven version of the Butcher.
  • Spider-Ninja: Peter Parker (depending on the universe/adaptation) saw his uncle be gunned down when he was a teenager. Petra Parker isn't so lucky; she watched an armed robber kill her aunt and uncle when she was four. She is so traumatized by this that she doesn't open up about what happened for ten years. The fic's second chapter shows that she had nightmares about the event for a while after.
  • Still Stand in the Sun: Eight-year-old Katara is captured and imprisoned by the Fire Nation. Over the next few years, she has to cope with torture, and she sees all her fellow waterbenders die in the prison. To escape the prison and survive afterwards, she has to bloodbend and kill any soldier who gets in her way.
  • Boreas from The Surprising Adventures of a Glaceon in Unova saw his parents and brother killed before his very eyes when he was "just a little cub, a few weeks old."
  • Symbiosis:
    • A two-year-old Ash sees his father's Mareep die in front of him due to the wounds the Mareep received while escaping the people who killed Ash's parents.
    • A ten-year-old Ash and a slightly younger Tommy witness several teams slaughtering Tommy's Kangaskhan herd and each other in an attempt to capture and enslave Tommy.
    • Ash ends up seeing the dead bodies of Elle'snote  family after they're killed by an over-affectionate Muk.
  • Shanks and Buggy in Watashitachi wa Roger Kaizoku Desu (We Will Stand Proud) have both seen horrible things while aboard the Oro Jackson. If Buggy is to be believed, what he saw at Raftel was worse than the Edd War against Shiki. Between what they witnessed and their captain letting himself die, they both resolved to never take a child aboard their ship unless they absolutely had to, which is the real reason Shanks didn't take Luffy along with him. By contrast, the former Roger pirates don't understand just how traumatizing the New World was for the former cabin boys and thus can't understand why Shanks didn't simply take Luffy on as a cabin boy.
  • Boldores And Boomsticks: While the team is storming Aether Paradise, Casey's Pokémon sense something's wrong, and when her Electabuzz sees what's around the corner, he tries to keep his trainer back. Casey ignores him and looks anyway, and lays eyes on her first fatal Grimm casualty.

    Film — Animated 
  • A lot of Disney Animated Canon movies with parental deaths would qualify:
    • Bambi had to face the cold hard truth that his mother was never going to come back after escaping from hunters who killed his mother.
    • Simba from The Lion King was even worse, watching his father die right in front of him by falling off a cliff and trampled by wildebeests while convinced it was his fault that he died right up until the end.
  • Littlefoot from The Land Before Time watched his mother get torn apart by a T-rex and die while she rushed him and Cera to safety during a devastating earthquake. This also extended to Real Life as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas edited a lot of the footage consisting of the young dinosaurs in severe situations of peril or stress for fear it would cause psychological damage to young children.

    Film — Live Action 
  • In 28 Days Later, teenaged Infection survivor Hannah mostly wades through the gore with a smile on her face until seeing her father get riddled with bullets before her eyes after a drop of tainted blood falls in his eye and infects him with The Virus. She appears to be about 14, but definitely an easily breakable cutie. Later, when a drugged-up Hannah sees Jim and Selena having a blood-splattered but relieved romantic moment (or is it?) she tries to bash Jim's brains out.
  • In the prologue to Bloody Reunion, it is revealed that Mrs Park's husband hanged himself in front of their deformed son.
  • The prologue to The Butchers shows that as a boy, Simon witnessed the murder of his mother at the hand of his father. He then bludgeons his father to death with a golf club.
  • In Death Ship, Marshall's son Ben and daughter Robin have to endure a ship sinking, their former captain getting possessed, and seeing several people die violently at the hands of the eponymous Ghost Ship.
  • Emelie: Emelie makes Sally watch her hamster get eaten by Jacob's python and then has the children sit down to watch a sex tape featuring their father...
  • Fear City: Matt Rossi witnessed a Mafia assassination back in his old neighborhood when he was a little boy.
  • The machine-gunner in the helicopter in Full Metal Jacket, when asked how he can shoot down women and children:
    Gunner: Easy! Ya just don't lead 'em so much!
  • In Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), twelve year old Madison Russell witnesses eco-terrorists gunning down dozens of her adult friends and tutors in cold blood as part of her own mother's plans within the first fifteen minutes of the movie. She's later helpless to watch, held captive by the terrorists and her own mother, as they set King Ghidorah and Rodan loose and as the monsters brutally slaughter dozens of people caught up in their surroundings.
  • In the Holocaust movie The Grey Zone, children are killed in the gas chambers along with the adults, as in real life. The Hungarian girl who miraculously survived has to further witness all the participants of the uprising being shot moments before she's shot herself.
  • In the Korean monster movie The Host (2006), Hyun-Seo, who is in middle school, is eaten by a monster and then spat out in the monster's lair, as it leaves her for dead. She gets to witness the monster spitting out a large number of dead people in its lair. Later on, she ends up becoming a mother figure to a young homeless boy. If that's not enough, in the end, she dies! The homeless boy lives and ends up being adopted by her father.
  • In Kill Bill Volume 1, assassin O-Ren Ishii's most formative episode happened when she was only seven, when she witnessed the murders of her mother and father at the hands of Boss Matsumoto and his men. She takes vengeance upon them all in very bloody fashion just four years later. Ironically, Beatrix Kiddo inadvertently kills one of her targets, Vernita Green, right in front of her daughter. With the full knowledge of what usually happens to a kid after something like this, Kiddo simply states, "When you grow up, if you still feel raw about it, I'll be waiting." Director Quentin Tarantino has even said he'd like to film that story as a sequel.
  • A rare parodic example occurs in the movie, Kung Pow! Enter the Fist. The Chosen One, while still a baby, witnesses the murder of his family at the hands of the Big Bad and decides to take revenge on him then and there. (He doesn't defeat the villain, but he does manage to kick a surprising amount of ass considering he's still in diapers.)
  • In Law Abiding Citizen, Clyde Shelton sends Nick Rice a DVD of him torturing and murdering Darby. Rice's daughter is the first to watch it.
  • Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971): After Cesar and Madeline are abducted, it is revealed that when she was a child, Madeline had seen her mother murdered by Cesar, but had completely blocked it from her mind; even to the extent of forgetting the home where she used to live.
  • Played for Laughs in Napoleon Dynamite. A farmer shoots a cow in the head right when a bus of schoolchildren is driving by. The kids start screaming at the scene.
  • After brutally bludgeoning sister Abagail from her orphanage to death with a hammer, Russian Orphan Esther needed somebody to help her drag the poor nun's body to dump in the frozen river... and the only person nearby at the time was her five year old, deaf little-sister Max..., who also saw her father be killed right in front of her. Quite a few things happened to the brother too.
  • In The Patriot (2000), one of the Benjamin Martin's sons is shot in front of the rest of his children, and then he takes two of the remaining boys—aged between nine and twelve—and slaughters the British soldiers responsible. Their horror as they walk back to their torched house is apparent.
  • The Princess Bride: "Hello!. My Name Is Inigo Montoya. You Killed My Father. Prepare to Die."
    Wesley: How old were you?
    Inigo: I was eleven years old. I loved my father, so naturally, I challenged his murderer to a duel. I failed.
  • The Purge: Having kids exposed to something like The Purge is a bad idea. The Sandin parents try to protect their kids from this, but it looks like they fail miserably, because at least one of the kids is going to have to use a gun against a gang of psychopathic killers.
  • Silent Tongue: As a young boy, Reeves was forced to watch his father rape Silent Tongue.
  • Stage Fright (2014): The climax reveals that Buddy witnessed his mother being stabbed to death by his stepfather, who persuaded Buddy that it was his fault. This eventually drove Buddy insane, leading him to hate musicals and stage a string of murders intended to prevent his sister from becoming an actress like their mother.
  • In the 2005 The War of the Worlds movie, Ray tries to keep his daughter, Rachel, from looking away from him as he walke her through the wreckage of a downed commercial jet. Later, when she sees a ton of dead bodies floating down a river, he covers her eyes and pulls her away. Finally, when killing Ogilvy to try to protect her (after he witnesses the Tripods harvesting blood and loses it completely), Ray tells her to cover her eyes and ears and sing to herself so as to not to have to be exposed to it.

  • Fox Demon Cultivation Manual: When he was ten Song Ci was forced to watch as Liang Shuli, his eight-year-old brother, was beaten to death in front of him.
  • In Sarny, Sarny and Lucy find a boy around two years old in a house that had been a victim of The American Civil War. His family was killed and it's heavily implied his mother was raped. The child is too traumatized to even speak. Sarny names him "Tyler Two" (after her own son who she is looking for) and takes him in for a while, though he's eventually given up to a family.
  • A large part of Animorphs, where the young teen protagonists regularly see and participate in covert but full-on warfare.
  • In A Brother's Price, about half of the royal family died in an explosion prior to the plot. Two of the princesses watched, having just left the building. They were the youngest who had been allowed to come to the theater, their even younger toddler and baby sisters weren't there. It is revealed later that their father was poisoned before that.
  • Inverted in Carpe Jugulum. In the end, a village finally gets to kill the offending vampires, and Perdita (the other, usually more cynical half of Agnes Nitt's Split Personality) expresses concern that they're bringing the children with them. Agnes (a witch) calmly says that it's a good thing, as "...everyone has to know the monster is dead, and remember so that they can tell their grandchildren."
  • Then there's Great Aunt Ada Doom of Cold Comfort Farm, who "saw something nasty in the woodshed". We never find out what, although Raymond Briggs suggests it was Fungus the Bogeyman.
  • Cradle Series: When Yerin was about six, a blood shadow ate her entire family. Then she was adopted and trained by the Sword Sage, who figured the best way to make her stronger was to lock her in a circle of swords where she would be cut every time she twitched, seal her in a barrel of tar, and let her limbs get cut off multiple times. It's a miracle her only major psychological hangup is Please, Don't Leave Me.
  • Dexter's backstory includes him witnessing his mother being murdered by chainsaw, then spending two days locked in a shipping container with her body (among other ex-people), in a three-inch deep pool of blood. He was three at the time. This is used as a Freudian Excuse for Dexter and his brother both becoming serial killers.
  • In Dragon Bones, Ward mentions that his father didn't only take him hunting, but also bandit-hunting when he was younger. (He's nineteen, and not deemed adult enough to rule in Hurog, he'll come of age at 21). Due to a lack of other opportunities, Ward takes his siblings with him while trying to prove himself a hero, and his younger sister Ciarra, sixteen at the time, whom he told to stay away from combat, doesn't listen and wounds a bandit. She hasn't been in a battle before and doesn't have the stomach to kill the bandit when he doesn't fight back anymore. Ward kills him swift and painlessly, and sadly thinks that he can't even comfort his (somewhat upset) sister, as he's way too jaded by now. There's also Oreg, who is eternally seventeen and has been turned into a kind of Genius Loci of Castle Hurog when he was that age. He witnessed and was subjected to lots and lots of cruel violence. (It is later mentioned he's a trained assassin. If one assumes he got the training before he was turned, that might have been before he was even sixteen)
  • In The Dresden Files, Harry's daughter, Maggie, has the worst case of this imaginable when inhuman monsters slaughter her foster family (ripping them to pieces in the process). She's then imprisoned by said inhuman monsters and set to be sacrificed in a dark ritual designed to kill every single person in her bloodline. Then, to make matters even worse, when Harry comes to save her, he has to do so by sacrificing Maggie's mother in her place, which results in the complete and total genocide of the vampires of the Red Court. When we finally meet her again in Skin Games, it's shown that she's had some serious difficulties coping with that.
  • Hannibal Lecter became orphaned at the hands of a group of Nazis who killed his parents, and then the same soldiers killed his baby sister, made her into a stew and force-fed her to him. Needless to say, this brilliant young child was left irrevocably damaged.
  • Harry Potter sees countless people die, suffers from PTSD, goes on the run from the government, fights in a war, and just narrowly avoids getting killed eight different times before he's even turned eighteen.
  • The Hunger Games: Only minors are selected for the standard Hunger Games. The 75th Hunger Game changes the rules.
  • The Mortal Instruments:
    • Although Shadowhunters, like most of modern society, do not consider children to be adults until they are eighteen (which is the youngest age at which they can even attend Clave meetings), it is apparently acceptable for children much younger than that to participate in Demon Slaying without adult supervision. At the start of City of Bones, Alec is the oldest of the protagonists being only one that is eighteen years old. The movie seems to try to avert this by making all the characters a few years older than they are in the books.
    • Jace's childhood, the least of which involved his father murdering his pet falcon.
  • In Phenomena, small elf boy is whipped again and again for having escaped the village he works in. It's even featured on a cover. What Do You Mean, It's for Kids? moment.
  • The Reader (2016) has Sefia seeing her father's mutilated corpse, and what Archer and the other kidnapped boys experience when the Impressors brainwash them into tykebombs.
  • Redwall: Word of God is that Kid Hero Matthias was the murine equivalent of thirteen years old during the war, when he splatted Cluny with the church bell. Some of the other heroes are even younger. Sometimes the Dibbuns (canonical slang for babies and preschool-age children) actually help with the battles, as when Silent Sam (at the age of about two) came up with the idea of dropping a hornet's nest on the bearers of a battering ram, when Dumble tried (admittedly not very successfully) to fight off the crows which were attacking him and Thrugg, or when the kids in Mariel of Redwall sneaked onto the wall top and cut the ropes the searats were climbing up. None of them seem to suffer any lasting emotional damage.
  • At the start of Renegades, six-year-old Nova watches helplessly as her family is shot, then holds their murderer at gunpoint until her uncle comes and kills him, making only a token effort of covering Nova's eyes.
  • The Reynard Cycle:
    • Young Martin and Rukenaw witness the slaughter of their friends and family in The Baron of Maleperduys. Later, Martin's own violent death transforms Rukenaw into a Broken Bird.
    • In Defender of the Crown, the Glyconese ambassador has one of the Myrmidons break a fellow slave's neck to make a point to an eight-year-old boy.
  • The Empirium Trilogy: Life isn't easy for children regardless of time period: if you're an elemental child living in the Second Age, you could be kidnapped and forced to become a soldier for an despotic angel. If you live in the Third Age, you could be forced to become a killer for your own survival and that of your family's (assuming they're still alive).
  • The Road: The man tries to shield his son's eyes from the worst horrors of life After the End, but does not always succeed. Examples include a human head under a glass bell in an abandoned diner, and this is by no means the worst thing we see.
  • The works of Roald Dahl feature brutal and unjust punishments on children — from Disproportionate Retribution, to Cant Get Away With Nothing, to Miscarriage of Justice by antagonists determined to punish children because of their innocence — all with a frequency that betrays an author with a deep contempt for children. His books get past Moral Guardians due to the Grandfather Clause, but could similar works published today be permitted for the same demographic?
  • Partly avoided but occasionally invoked in Tales of the Branion Realm, a medieval fantasy series in which most characters are squired to older warriors at age twelve. There's Demnor, who at five walks into the middle of an assassination attempt on himself, and is surrounded and comforted by bloodied, injured and terrified guards moments after he's seen them kill all the assassins. Discussed with his ancestor Kassandra, who (also aged five) isn't supposed to order executions until she's adult, so what should her protectors do if she demands one without really understanding what death means? They later take her onto the battlefield, where she can mentally sense every death; justified because her army has to see her leading it since she's a living symbol of the realm. An Angst Nuke nearly results.
  • Aral Vorkosigan, of the Vorkosigan Saga, was 11 when his mother and siblings were all killed in front of him in an attempt to purge rival claimants to the throne. He then fights a bloody civil war, which they win and is given first cut in the execution of Mad Emperor Yuri, at about 13. In his adulthood he is an adamant proponent of any reading of succession law which places him out of the running. There is a connection.
  • Amavia's baby from The Faerie Queene is left to wallow in the blood of his parents after his father is poisoned and his mother kills herself in despair. The despicable sight of an infant innocently covered in blood is enough to drive Guyon to avenge the parents.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Awaken: In the prologue the people in the village attack and murder each other in front of a child. And at least one of them tries to kill the child too.
  • An episode of Breaking Bad had Jesse going after a couple of meth heads who had stolen his meth from Skinny Pete. He finds out they have a little kid, which they don't really care about and sometimes leave alone for days. While the kid is locked in his bedroom, his mother snaps and kills his father by dropping an ATM on his face. While she's getting high on the couch, Jesse takes the money from the ATM, calls 911, and takes the child outside (making him cover his eyes) to wait until the police arrive before fleeing. Sadly, that kid's life probably improved after the incident.
  • In the episode "The Thirteenth Step" from Criminal Minds, the Outlaw Couple held a little girl hostage. She witnessed her father being beaten up, dragged away to another room and heard the gunshot that killed him. Later, she would see one of her hostage takers being shot in the shoulder and later killed by strangulation by her partner.
  • CSI: Sara saw her mother kill her father when she was a child.
  • Lindsay's backstory on CSI: NY involved her being the only survivor of a crazed killer massacring her friends when she was a teenager. Several characters of the week count, too.
    • One was a little girl who witnessed her mother, a teacher, having sex with one of her high-school students.
  • Dark Hole: Do-yoon gets chased by a zombie, sees her mother get stabbed, and is forced to watch as her mother is left behind to die, all in the space of a few hours.
  • Dexter:
    • Morgan and his brother Brian witnessed their mother being butchered to death with a chainsaw while locked in a shipping container. This was directly adapted from the first book before the show took a different route than that of the books.
    • At the end of season 4, Dexter arrives home to find his wife Rita dead in the bathtub, on a pool on her own blood and with their baby Harrison in front and crying its' lungs out. It's implied he witnessed the death of his mother, and Dexter spends the following season worrying Harrison will end up like him.
  • Euphoria: 13-year-old Gia finding her sister after the latter overdosed. Also, in a flashback, 11-year-old Nate finding his father's videos.
  • Played for Laughs in the Friends episode "The One Where Phoebe Hates PBS", when Chandler comes home to find the Chick and the Duck watching Emeril Lagasse preparing a duck dinner. He reacts like a parent catching kids watching a violent movie.
    Chandler: How many times have I told you guys, you never watch the cooking channel?!
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Arya Stark's years as a constant witness to combat, murder, torture, and other war atrocities take a heavy toll on her morals and worldview. Finally, after being abused, abandoned, misled, or otherwise let down by nearly everyone she meets, she decides that the only person she can rely on in a Crapsack World is herself.
    • Rickon, the youngest Stark, sees nearly everyone and everything he's ever known killed, destroyed, or taken from him before he is sent away as a Noble Fugitive under the protection of barbarian Action Girl Osha.
  • The Glamorous Imperial Concubine: When they were children Lian Cheng and Lian Xi were forced to watch as Lian Cheng's mother had Lian Xi's mother killed, and then ordered her guards to find and kill Lian Xi.
  • Lost: Sawyer's father killed his mother, then shot himself in the head. The latter he did while sitting on Sawyer's bed, unaware Sawyer (who was about eight years old) was hiding underneath it.
  • The Inbetweeners: Played for Laughs in the episode "Bunk Off", where an intoxicated Will watches a documentary about terrorists with Carli's younger brother, and then tells him his parents would be killed by a dirty bomb.
  • M*A*S*H: In "Death Takes A Holiday", Mulcahy gets the 4007 to agree to bring the children from a local orphanage to spend Christmas with them. This trope is implied when the kids shudder when they first see the MASH personnel in uniform, and the orphanage leader explains that they've seen men in their uniform do terrible things. Klinger fixes this by taking off part of his uniform (still wearing enought to be modest) and standing there shivering. This makes the kids laugh hard enough to relax and get out of the car.
  • Mouse (2021):
    • A young girl witnesses the first on-screen murder.
    • Later two young boys see the serial killer attack their mother. When he comes after them one of them is almost killed while the other is Forced to Watch.
    • Jae-hoon's siblings hide in terror when Jae-hoon (apparently) kills their father and comes looking for them.
    • A young boy is kidnapped by a serial killer and held hostage while his kidnapper threatens to kill him.
    • Ko-nam is almost killed when Byung-tae pours a chemical on his head.
  • My Country: The New Age:
    • Hwi and Yeon witnessed their father's death when they were children.
    • Hui-jae was a child when she saw her mother killed in front of her.
    • Seon-ho was a child when he failed to save his half-brother from drowning, and immediately afterwards his father told him he should have died instead.
  • The Orville: In the season three premiere "Electric Sheep", it's shown that the Kaylon's attack on the Union hurt (physically and emotionally) a lot of people. Marcus (Dr. Finn's teengae son) saw a lot of people killed in the battle, and is traumatized to the point that he's been having nightmares about Isaac and the battle for a few weeks (at least). The next episode "Shadow Realms" is arguably worse, as Marcus and Ty watch a crewman (one who they clearly knew) be transformed into a spider alien (right in front of them).
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Picard raises this point when arguing against there being children on the Enterprise because of all the dangerous situations they get into. This gets demonstrated in Star Trek: Generations when half of the Enterprise is destroyed and the camera focuses on dozens of terrified children screaming in fear.
  • A major feature of the childhoods of the Winchester brothers in Supernatural, particularly Dean. Sam, at around 11 or 12, wrote about killing a werewolf with his family in a 'what I did over summer' school paper. Like Sam, Dean was hunting monsters from a young age, but he was solely responsible for Sam's care for days on end while his father hunted alone. Plus seeing the fire which killed his mother.
  • In one episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, when a gangster threatened to shoot John, Derek brought out a little girl that was found in the backroom, believing her to be his daughter. However, the gangster still refused to let John go, so Derek calmly covered the girl's eyes and shot the gangster in the head. Fortunately for her, he wasn't the little girl's father. Still, she must have been terrified to witness such a scene.
  • Emily Yokas of Third Watch was held hostage by armed robbers in a bank during Season 4 and saw her mother Faith, an NYPD cop, kill the hostage taker. She later asked her mother how many people she'd killed when on the job, and it was later mentioned she'd been seeing a shrink to help her get over this. In Season 6, she was held hostage by a man who thought he was a vampire and wanted her to see him kill her mother. She sees Bosco kill the guy. And in the very next episode, taking place later that night, she sees the 55th Precinct firebombed by a gang.
  • The Walking Dead (2010), naturally, since it's set in a Zombie Apocalypse:
    • Carl Grimes, Rick's son, started out being mostly shielded from the violence by his mother Lori until witnessing the deaths of Sophia and Dale in season 2. Carl eventually is forced to take a level in badass to survive, and eventually gets around not only killing walkers on his own but he actually has to put a knife through his beloved mother's brain when she dies by childbirth for her not to become a walker. One could say you can't get worse than that, but if you've seen this show, you know it really, really can.
    • Sopia Peletier, Carol's daughter, witnessed violence even before the apocalypse started! Her father Ed was abusive towards both her and Carol, although he becomes one of the series' first casualties. Sophia, however, gets killed in season 2 by walkers off-screen in season 2 and would be later found by the group in the barn full of walkers in the Greene farm, turned into one of them. Rick putting down zombie!Sophia while Carol cries her heart out quickly turned into one of the series' most iconic scenes.
    • The Governor's Morality Pet is his daughter Penny, who was killed and turned by walkers early on the apocalypse, but he keeps her chained up in a locked room because he still thinks of her as his daughter. Michonne later finds Penny and kills her (aware of who she was to him). It does not end well.
    • In season 4, The Governor gets a Replacement Goldfish for Penny in the form of Meghan Chambler, who by the end of her first appearance is trapped in a pit with three walkers and has to be saved by The Governor. She is killed as well, eaten by walkers just like Penny.
    • Lizzie Samuels' exposure to violence in the apocalypse caused her to become a complete psychopath who kills and dissects rabbits for fun and tried to choke Judith (a baby) to death once. And as if that's not bad, she later kills her little sister Mika with a knife in "The Grove".
  • This was the backstory of Callisto, recurring Big Bad to Xena: Warrior Princess. Callisto saw Xena destroy her village, which broke her. And on a more personal level saw her family burned alive.

  • In The Who's concept album/rock opera Tommy, the titular character sees his supposedly deceased father kill his mother's lover, rendering Tommy deaf, blind, and dumb (in the film version the mother's lover who kills the father).

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • AI: The Somnium Files opens with 12-year-old Mizuki discovering the mutilated corpse of her own mother. Initially, she's so traumatized by the event that she's rendered Dumb Struck by it but eventually recovers. She's still slightly shaken but gains resolve to help Date find the culprit responsible. Things potentially get worse from there, as depending on the route she also discovers her father's corpse and watches a livesteam of her best friends' brutal murder.
    • The sequel just keeps going. On Mizuki's side of the story it's learned that Mad Scientist Chikara Horadori conducted horrific, torturous experiments on children, including Mizuki herself when she was only a toddler, in attempts to create superhumans and discover the secret of immortality, and had future Big Bad Uru Somezuki kidnapped and held captive as an unwilling organ and tissue donor for his cancer-ridden son. On Ryuki's side of the story not only does Mizuki lose an eye at only 12 years old, but her classmate Shoma also gets to discover his murdered father's bisected body.
  • Esperia has the worst background of the cast in Aselia the Eternal - The Spirit of Eternity Sword. All spirits are raised as weapons, but as the oldest spirit, she was the only one trained by Soma. Spirits 'tuned' by Soma end up as soulless living weapons. Details on the process are vague, but it appears to involve utterly destroying a person's spirit and sense of worth with sexual abuse implied. Everyone she knew became a soulless thing that would not hesitate a moment to kill her and she was beaten and tortured frequently. Without Rask she would have ended up just like them.
  • Tiny Tina from Borderlands 2, as revealed through a series of audio logs, saw her parents violently butchered for slag research by Handsome Jack. She escaped thanks to her parents slipping her a grenade. As evident when you meet her, she's not all there anymore after what she saw.
  • Sena in Chaos;Head was brought in on the last day of the two-year experiment involving her mother. Up till then, her mother had been living happily with her infant daughter, her kind neighbor, and a housekeeper. Except then the delusion machine was turned off and her mother realized she was holding a mummified infant's corpse that had died about a month after the experiment started. She then proceeded to flip out, eat the dead baby, bang her head on the wall and then stab herself through the eye. Naturally, she's not exactly pleased with her father who initially thought of the experiment and couldn't bring himself to end it when the baby died, because he wanted to prolong her happiness as much as he could. Didn't turn out well.
  • In Clock Tower, Jennifer is definitely exposed to much more than a teenaged girl that isn't even 16 should have to put up with, and then some.
  • Speaking of zombie games, a previously little known title gained international fame in February 2011 with a trailer in reverse order of a girl flying out a window. That game? Dead Island.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, you can learn a rather disturbing story about Cook-Cook, in which he buys three child slaves — two girls and a boy — and forces the girls to watch as he torches the boy with a flamethrower. The slavers who sold him the kids decide not to do business with him after that little incident.
  • Fate/stay night: During the end of the previous Holy Grail War, the Grail was destroyed and black ichor set part of the town aflame. At the very worst part of the blaze was young Shirou, who crawled and hobbled past countless other residents as they burned to death. After having gone outside on an impulse, his house collapsed and his family died. He was the only survivor from that part of the town. The experience was enough to destroy his former personality (or maybe any sense of self, not clear) and rewrote him around the single idea that saving people makes you happy. Also, Sakura, but that was mostly stuff being done to her rather than in front of her.
  • Final Fantasy XIII: Hope. Oh so much. First, he sees his mother killed by the army, then he is forced to fight against Cie'th (zombies), becomes a l'Cie and spends the rest of the game constantly hunted by the army. Oh, and that time he gets blown off a rooftop. He's only 14 by the way.
    • Final Fantasy IV has Rydia, a Woobie whose mother is killed by unknowing warriors who fight a Mist Dragon as it gets in the way of their mission. Then her village is torched by a bomb ring. She accompanies you for a while as a party member, until she is thrown off a ship by a sea monster. Luckily for her, said sea monster saves and adopts her in an environment that she quickly grows out of her childhood, both physically and mentally.
  • The Final Fantasy Legend has a shelter occupied by the deceased bodies of three children, as well as their father. When the game was released in the US as The Final Fantasy Legend, the children were explicitly stated to be dead, making this a surprising aversion of Nintendo's Never Say "Die" policy at the time of its release.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • In Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, it turns out that when he was about seven years old, Ike saw his father kill his mother and was so shocked that he nearly strangled Mist, until Sephiran intervened and brainwashed Ike to forget what he had just witnessed.
    • The remake of Mystery of the Emblem reveals that Ogma was forced to compete in brutal Gladiator Games as a child. Though he may not show it, it's clear the experience severely traumatized him, to the point where he doesn't want anyone bringing up his past.
    • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses all three of the Lords suffered this. Dimitri saw the deaths of his father (whose head was cut off) stepmother and entire traveling party at The Tragedy at Duscur when he was only 12 years old. This left heavy psychological scars on him, to the point that (incorrectly) believing his stepsister Edelgard played a part in it when it's revealed she is the Flame Emperor causes his sanity to snap like a twig and leads him to on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge over the timeskip. Edelgard was horrifically experimented on to implant a second crest and became the only one of her 11 siblings to survive, while Claude mentions having to fend of assassination attempts with disturbing calmness. It's little wonder the two of them developed an unstoppable drive to see her goals through a scheming nature (including casually brewing up poisons) respectively the time they're in their mid teens.
  • ''Fragile is a horror adventure with abduction and exploitation of little children as its core theme. Said exploitation includes sex-slavery and involuntary organ donation.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry:
    • Poor Satoko. She was brutally beaten and abused by her uncle and aunt after her parents' death. Suffice to say that the tropes of Cheerful Child and Kill the Cutie both apply to her. Satoshi, her oldest brother, has suffered this trope too.
    • Indeed all of the cast suffers this as the oldest characters are only roughly sixteen. It's a very gory series where the protagonists kill, see others get killed, and get killed. Shion and Mion for example had their nails torn off by their family as punishment and in two different arcs Mion was forced to watch multiple people (including her family and Satoko) be tortured her twin Shion, who was pretending to be her at that.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty:
    • Raiden is a former Child Soldier.
    • Vamp had a tragic upbringing in his native Romania. The church he was attending was bombed, pinning him beneath a crucifix, where he was forced to drink the blood of those killed in the blast (including his family) to survive.
  • All four members of the Beauty and the Beast Unit in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots have witnessed unspeakable carnage as children. The psychological trauma is so severe that they will suffer from lethal mental breakdown if they are removed from their protective suits.
  • The Metroid series has maintained in the story that Samus is the only survivor of Pirates raiding her colony when she was three and was taken in and raised by Chozo as a result, for about the past decade. However, with the 2005 manga, it was revealed that not only was Samus the only survivor, but she witnessed the entire thing, complete with obligatory Blood-Splattered Innocents shot. The event was so traumatic, she didn't properly remember the details until the ripe old age of 14, where she witnessed yet another massacre, this time of her Chozo family.
  • Babalities in the Mortal Kombat series are generally played for quick laughs, but the ones in Mortal Kombat 9 skirt the line towards being rather disturbing since they're fully animated. Baby Stryker plays with a loaded gun which shoots a round, baby Jade throws a bladed boomerang which smacks her on the head, baby Kenshi is knocked about by the hilt of his sword, and several babies are lifted into the air and fall quite a distance which would seriously hurt an infant in real life.
  • Early on in Mother 3, the young Lucas and Claus end up witnessing their mother, Hinawa, torn to pieces by a giant mechanized Drago. Additionally, at the end of the game Lucas can only watch while his brother, who he learned was killed much earlier on in the story, is back as an emotionless cyborg which he has to battle, alone, to reach the final Needle. Additionally additionally, Lucas can only watch while, after his brother is finally released from Porky's control, his brother Claus kills himself.
  • Persona 3:
    • The protagonist was only a child when he witnessed his parents' deaths.
    • The backstory for Ken Amada is that he's an orphan and that his mother died two years ago. Already pretty dark, but there's also the fact that his mom is apart of an Accidental Murder, something not revealed until it's too late and he's about to kill her murderer, fellow teammate Shinjiro. And then Shinjiro dies in front of him as he saves his life from Takaya's bullet.
  • Persona 5 Strikers: Akane Hasegawa witnessed her mother be killed by a drunk driver. She saw who did it and remembers him perfectly well, but the police refused to take her seriously and the case went cold (because the culprit was part of Shido's conspiracy and was basically untouchable at that point), so Akane has lived for two years knowing that her mother's murderer is walking free. Understandably, she has issues with the police.
  • Ace Attorney: The murder mystery nature of the series means that any child who shows up in a major role is going to witness something no child ever should.
    • It's played with by Cody Hackins in Turnabout Samurai; the kid witnessed the Steel Samurai attack someone and get killed in self-defense by his victim, but he doesn't realize the exact nature of what he witnessed; as far as he's concerned, he watched a live Steel Samurai performance and is more upset about the person in the Steel Samurai costume losing a fight.
    • The next case reveals that rival prosecutor Miles Edgeworth saw something severely traumatizing as a kid that partially led to his Jerk with a Heart of Gold nature in the present: He was trapped in an elevator alongside his father Gregory and a court bailiff. The bailiff attacked Gregory in a fit of panic, and Miles desperately tried to save his father by tossing the bailiff's gun at them. The gun went off, Miles fell unconscious, and when he woke up his dad had been shot. He spent fifteen years thinking that he'd accidentally killed his own father, which was not helped by the real murderer, Manfred von Karma, taking him in afterwards and encouraging his fears.
    • Defied in case 2-2 when Nick asks 8-year-old Pearl Fey to channel Mia during court, because he knows that that day would result in either her cousin Maya being convicted of murder, or her mother Morgan being arrested as an accomplice to murder. Either way, not something you want a little kid to see. Unfortunately, this just delays the trauma until 2-4, where Pearl has to live through Maya getting kidnapped, with the threat of her being killed if Phoenix can't get a murderer declared innocent. And 3-5, where her mother uses her as an Unwitting Pawn in a plot to kill Maya that ultimately ends up getting Pearl's aunt Misty killed- and to make matters worse, Misty was also Pearl's favorite picture book author.
    • This is the ultimate cause of Athena's Black Psyche-Locks; she witnessed something horrific as a kid and the only way she could keep going was to forget it ever happened. She saw someone kill her mother, and then attacked the killer in self-defense, giving him a wound on his hand.
    • It's not made too much of, but one of the 14-year-old Princess Rayfa's royal duties is to call up and view the last moments of murder victims in Divination Seances.
  • Red Dead Redemption:
    • In one of the final missions, John and his wife Abigail talk about how their son Jack saw things no boy should see when they all used to run in the gang. As a young teen, Jack sees his father and uncle killed.
  • Resident Evil 2: Poor, poor Sherry Birkin; as if being the daughter of two half-insane Mad Scientist parents (one who turns into an abomination of a Final Boss, courtesy of the G-Virus) that usually left her alone weren't bad enough, she gets caught up in Raccoon City's Zombie Apocalypse along with Leon and Claire. There is a small portion of Claire's scenario that allows you to play as her. Naturally, she can't defend herself, and has the honor of being the only non-adult character who can get brutalized by zombies and the like. She has a lot of issues from this, naturally; this is touched on in Resident Evil 6, where she's now an adult.
  • In Shadowverse, Luna's parents were killed by a burglar that tried to steal all the valuables in her mansion right in front of her eyes.
  • Bella Monroe in Siren: Blood Curse gets to witness her mother's friend turn into a zombie in Episode 3, then in Episode 9, sees her mother burn to death. In Episode 10, her mother is a zombie herself. Plus the missions where you have to protect her while playing as a different character, and Bella can witness you killing the various enemies while she follows you.
  • The title character of the Sly Cooper series witnesses his parents' brutal murder at the age of eight.
  • In Suikoden II, Pilika, a 4-year-old girl, is forced to witness the murder of her parents by Luca Blight in a terrifying Moral Event Horizon moment of sadistic glee. Then again, the same thing happened to Luca when he was a child, and he also witnessed his mother being RAPED.
    • Pilika becomes mute however after she witnesses Pohl, a teenager, get run through by the sword of Luca Blight and an attempt was made by Luca to run her through! Luckily, she is saved.
  • Kyle and Loni from Tales of Destiny 2 both witness their father getting butchered and their mother get crippled by Barabtos. Made worse for Loni since he was held hostage to make the pair drop their weapons first. While Kyle's mostly okay with it because he didn't remember it for so long, it continues to haunt Loni for years.
  • Tales of the Abyss:
    • Guy's Laser-Guided Amnesia and mental tics turn out to be a result of his sister being murdered by Kimlascan soldiers before his eyes, and by him subsequently being trapped in a pile consisting of her corpse, as well as the corpses of all the housemaids, and having to dig his way out of it. At the age of five.
    • Twelve is how old Saphir was when he watched one of the only people who'd ever really cared about him burn to death, and then be resurrected as a bloodthirsty monster. No wonder he's so screwed up.
    • A spoileriffic example from early in the game: Luke shows a lot of distress when watching Jade kill an enemy soldier in self-defense. You're initially led to believe this is because he's a Wide-Eyed Idealist, but it makes a lot more sense once you find out Luke is mentally only 7 years old due to being a recently-created clone.
  • Normally fairly idealistic on the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, Touhou Project has Fujiwara no Mokou, whose father committed suicide in front of her after humiliation and social ostracization from Kaguya, whom Mokou's father had tried to marry, along with countless other suitors of Kaguya, who did it frequently for laughs. At the time, she swore her life for a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, killed Kaguya's adoptive parents, and became truly immortal like Kaguya to perpetuate eternal warfare against her archnemesis. By the time of the events in-game, however, Mokou has mellowed out, expressed regret over the murder of Kaguya's adoptive parents, and seems to just want to live as peaceful an eternal life as she can, although Kaguya enjoys keeping rivalry going (and Mokou still has an obvious deep grudge against her) by sending out the heroines to kill her a few times for fun. Mokou is, however, very much a loner, and doesn't like being near people or becoming emotionally attached, (even though she is even willing to help Kaguya's friends or servants or even team up with Kaguya when others are in need, proving she is good at heart) perhaps because of emotional scars, whether because she wants to avoid a Mayfly–December Romance or because of It's Not You, It's My Enemies.
  • Umineko: When They Cry: Six dead people whose stomachs are stuffed to bursting with candy? Let's have Maria see it! It's okay. Everyone will be resurrected in the Golden Land. Kihihihihihihihihi.
  • In Vanguard Bandits, little girl Nana witnesses her father's murder after he's failed in his goals.
  • Given that the franchise is a major aversion of hiding children in media, Clementine and AJ of The Walking Dead (Telltale) are forced to endure a lot of trauma.
  • Your Turn to Die has both middle school student Kanna Kizuchi and elementary school student Gin Ibushi forced to witness several people around them suffer Cruel and Unusual Deaths after being thrown into a Deadly Game.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel has Elise witnessing her adopted older brother's transformation into his Superpowered Evil Side hacking the beast that was attacking them while they were playing in the snow.
  • The Legend of Zelda. No matter the era or incarnation of the hero, Link is never allowed to break into his adult years before a world-threatening disaster rears its head and he has to brave countless monsters and dungeons to stop it, many of which would make a lesser man piss themselves. Sometimes he'll be lucky enough to reach 16 or 17 years of age, but in just as many cases he'll still be a pre-teen when the latest version of Ganon comes knocking - the youngest was the Hero of Time at nine, and incidentally or not he has the worst backstory of them all.
  • Dragon Quest V: Parry and Madchen have to deal with a lot, being adventurers at the age of eight. The remakes drive this home with Party Chat; some of what they say after certain traumatic events like their grandmother being burned to ashes is just heart-wrenching.
    Madchen: "...Daddy? Can you hold my hand?"

  • Fate/type Redline: Kanata Akagi was a kid living an ordinary life when he suddenly gets sent 75 years into the past and then dragged into a Holy Grail War. Seeing people get killed right in front of him horrifies him and makes him have a panic attack. Then instead of comforting him, Tsukumo Fujimiya slaps him and says to man up and fight if he wants to survive.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court:
    • Annie isn't moved by things like a dragon crashing through her roof or a shapeshifter attacking her. When she was 6 years old she walked into an illusionary inferno just to give a lost soul some Cooldown Hug. When wounded by a sword-swinging ghost she was naturally frightened... until the ghost left — only to curse her "lack of self-control" later. Though even she has her limits:
    • The court robots show Annie and Kat (who are 13) a video in which a spurned Stalker with a Crush engineers a Fate Worse than Death as part of a Powered by a Forsaken Child plan for said crush, all while living in denial of what is done. The murder is then covered up by the people who used to run Annie and Kat's "school". Their reaction is unsurprising.
  • The Order of the Stick: Vaarsuvius' children are attacked by an ancient dragon, one of their parents is nailed to a tree alive, and then the attacker is torn to pieces from the inside in front of them... by their other parent, the elven wizard Vaarsuvius themself, who had gone off the deep end and made a Hell Pact with evil fiends to become powerful enough to fight the dragon. Right after that, Vaarsuvius uses a spell to kill all of the dragon's family right in front of them!
  • Faye witnesses her father's suicide in Questionable Content.
  • In Sonichu, Sandy Rosechu hatches from her egg moments after her mom is declared dead from an assassination, then being told by Magi-Chan that a guy named Evan killed her mom. When Evan and three other people are sentenced to death, her father encourages her to murder the ever-loving crap out of Evan. Which she does. It's not established how messed up her mind is after the exposure and participation to violence or even if she's even affected by it at all.
  • Pixie and Brutus: In one strip, Cute Kitten Pixie starts to watch a movie. Brutus overhears her talk about A Nightmare on Elmo Street "Freddy Cougar", oblivious to what it actually is. In a Delayed Reaction Brutus realizes what she's watching and the horrors Pixie will see. He reacts by smashing the TV with his head!
  • Unsounded: When Matty was six government officials came to slaughter his mother and everyone working at her forge while he was there. He ended up blinded by a spell before his mother was actually finished off but the last thing he saw was people being killed and his mother being tortured.

    Web Animation 
  • DEATH BATTLE!: Whenever one of the combatants is a minor, this happens. It happened to Ben Tennyson in Ben 10 VS Green Lantern, at least one of the combatants in Danny Phantom VS Jake Long, at least one of the combatants in Steven Universe VS Star Butterfly, and at least one of the combatants in Killua VS Misaka. Fortunately for Billy Batson, "Captain Marvel VS Shazam" has him take the victory.

    Web Video 
  • In the Crypt TV creepypasta comic, "Lexi's Vengeance", Eric witnesses Ben and Christie get ripped to shreds and devoured by the Woe Bones and is nearly killed himself. Even though he escapes with his life, one of the Woe Bones still managed to dig its claws into him deeply enough that he could feel its nails scratching the bone.

    Western Animation 
  • Arcane: The show starts out with two children seeing their parents dead from a failed revolution and goes from there.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender, being a show about war, often delves into this:
    • The two most obvious would be Katara witnessing a man threatening her mother (and the implication of finding her corpse afterward), and the flash-back to young Jet watching his village and family get burned down.
    • Considering Aang's young age of twelve, his reaction when he comes across the skeletons of his entire culture, including his Parental Substitute and mentor Gyatso also qualifies.
    • Zuko was only thirteen when he suffered torture at his father's hands, and Azula was only eleven when she saw this. Zuko's experience after the Siege of the North also qualifies; he was drifting on a raft with his uncle directly after Aang had destroyed a large portion of their navy, which means that Zuko would've been floating alongside hundreds of Fire Nation corpses for weeks. He also fought an all-out war in the Battle of Yu Dao as a sixteen-year-old, and because he searched all the air temples during his hunt for the Avatar, he too would've seen hundreds of corpses.
  • Batman: The Animated Series, the Justice League episode "For The Man Who Has Everything", and the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Chill Of The Night" all explore how much Bruce was affected by watching his parents be gunned down when he was eight. He was so traumatized and furious over the event that he dedicated the rest of his life to stopping crime.
  • Family Guy: In the episode "Road to the North Pole", during Stewie and Brian's botched attempt at taking Santa's place, they bludgeon a man and his wife to death in front of their young daughter.
  • Gargoyles:
    • In the episode "Hunter's Moon", three young children watch their father fall to his death from Notre Dame, as the Big Bad Demona flies away laughing. The three kids go on to become gargoyle hunters. The comics show that the kids chased after Demona afterward - and got lost in the Paris catacombs.
    • Katharine heard the Archmage nearly kill Prince Malcolm in "Long Way to Morning," Tom saw Constantine kill Kenneth (and was later shown to have suffered a Heroic BSoD as a result) in "Avalon, Part One," and Macbeth saw the Hunter kill his father in "City of Stone, Part One."
  • Harley Quinn (2019): A flashback shows young Harleen in front of a window and watching her father's "business meeting" which involved two men brutally beating him up and taking the money from his wallet. Apparently this was just "work" for Harley's father, implying this was a regular occurrence throughout her childhood.
  • In The Legend of Korra, Mako witnessed both his parents get burned to death when he was eight. He and his brother then had to fend for themselves on the streets, getting into more than their share of scuffles and gang violence.
  • In Metalocalypse, Murderface's father killed his wife with a chainsaw before dismembering himself. In front of baby Murderface. Murderface didn't seem very concerned when it was happening, but remembering made him wet himself.
  • Played for Laughs in Samurai Jack, when Jack has to take care of a baby. The child remains cheerful through various misadventures, but then Jack straps her to his back when he has to fight several robotic ogres and the sight is clearly shocking. Cut to the baby's family finding them and being dismayed at the baby's stern scowl, and Jack apologizing and telling them that the child has "seen death" and now has "the spirit of the samurai".
    • Played for Drama in Season 5, when a flashback has a young Jack see his father fight and messily kill some bandits and be shocked and horrified, a marked difference from a flashback earlier in the series where seeing a samurai bloodlessly take on assassins made young Jack excited.
  • Skull Island (2023): In the first episode, the teenaged Mike has a front-row seat to his own father getting violently crushed into pulp by one of the Kraken's tentacles, with his blood splashing on the kids face. Is it any wonder that Mike responds by screaming in a hysterical rage?
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): Sonic saw his uncle get roboticized right in front of him when he was only five years old. Since then, he's had recurring nightmares about losing his friends the same way. He doesn't need to be asleep to have them.
  • Steven Universe: In hindsight, Steven's life isn't exactly a walk in the park, as he fights monsters, has many near death experiences or watches others' temporary deaths, tries to stop a "so many millenia war" and fixes everyone'problems and mistakes, since he was 13. This gets deconstructed in Steven Universe: Future, as it turns out he has a severe case of C-PTSD because of it, which causes him to have a nasty Sanity Slippage as the epilogue goes on.
  • Young Justice (2010):
    • Artemis and her sister Jade/Chesire. They were raised and trained by criminals, and it is very heavily implied that they saw or did things grown adults would flinch at.
    • There's also Garfield Logan, aka Beast Boy, who saw his mom die.
    • Robin (Dick Grayson) as in all his backstories, saw his parents killed via sabotage when he was eight and was trained as a vigilante shortly after. At 13, he'd seen a lot of violence.
  • The Adventures of Mark Twain has the three child protagonists enter the world of The Mysterious Stranger, where they meet Satan. He invites the kids to create some little clay people, who he brings to life and then slaughters when they start to annoy him, horrifying the kids.

Examples of Kids being exposed to sexuality:

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Ai Yori Aoshi Koi: Chika discovers Kaoru and Aoi's Secret Relationship when she walks in on them getting intimate in the bathroom.
  • Brainbent has Dave, whose brother makes porn to pay the rent. Dave occasionally saw him doing so, and often walked in on his brother having sex that wasn't for the porn. On the one hand, this did occasionally happen by accident, such as Dave walking through their apartment and seeing Bro and his current girlfriend on the couch. In addition, Bro had a heart attack at the thought of forcing Dave to see or participate in it, to his credit. On the other hand, he never actually did anything to prevent Dave from seeing it, and he left dildos and the like lying around their apartment. It takes Dave a long time to realise that while Bro was genuinely trying to raise him well, what he did was not OK and Dave himself is also not OK.
  • Fortunately avoided in the Transformers Film Series fic Property Of, where a group of Decepticons have been selling humans on Cybertron as pets without revealing that the humans are sentient. This leads to (among other purchases) Ironhide taking custody of a little girl (Annabelle Lennox), who he names 'Softspark' before he learns that she's a sentient being. After he learns English and talks with her, he discovers that she recognized that Chromia is his partner due to their interaction, and reflects that he's grateful that "the idea of interfacing around 'Softspark' had made him too uneasy to even want to try it", not wanting to consider what she would have seen in such a scenario.

  • The slow spiral into madness of the main character in Christmas Evil starts when he witnesses his father, dressed as Santa Claus, having sex with his mother.
  • In Crank, a bus full of Korean schoolgirls witness Chelios and Eve having sex at the marketplace. One of them later gives an interview to the media where she sounds very impressed by what she saw.
  • Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life, an anti-pornography movie seemingly written by the Moral Guardians themselves, features a minor stumbling upon his older brother's porn viewing. The experience leaves him unable to talk, eat without prompting, or do anything other than stare blankly into the distance. A few scenes later he has developed a fetish for something so terrible, the film wouldn't even name it.
  • In Lawn Dogs, Devon witnesses her mother cheating on her father, and also twice sees two other adults getting it on.
  • Psycho IV: The Beginning, a TV-movie made in 1990, we are informed that Norman Bates had - among other things - a sensual relationship with his mother... resulting in her punishing him for his erection when she saw it after asking him to rub suntan lotion on her legs. Which spurred him on to murder her when she got a boyfriend, donning her persona in order to keep her in his life.
  • In Pusher 2, nobody seems to care that Tonny's kid half-brother gets a faceful of a stripper until much later in her "performance".
  • Short Cuts features two examples.
    • After the latest reconciliation between serial adulterer Gene Shepard and his wife Sherri leads to them having sex, their young daughter rushes into the room. Gene and Sherri quickly disengage, and he tries to pretend he simply fell asleep on top of her.
    • Lois Kaiser runs a phone sex business out of the family home and entertains most of her callers while feeding her young children or changing her toddler daughter's diaper. She insists to her husband Jerry that the explicit conversations she has with her customers go in one ear and out the other with the children, but Jerry is less convinced.

  • According to his book, The Thunderbolt Kid, Bill Bryson walked in on his parents having sex when he was a boy. His father tried to cover, saying that Bill's mother was just "checking his teeth". According to Bryson, it was a long time before he ever left his mother check his teeth again. On the other hand, he claims that when he did work it out, he was cheered by the health of his parents' relationship. Or at least by the fact that they weren't crippled by the shame of sexuality, other than the conception of children, that he perceived as dominating middle-class Americans at the time.
  • The Business Of Dying has Molly Hagger, a 13-year-old prostitute. She was sexually abused and molested by her mother and her mother's lover from the age of 4 onward and continued to have multiple sexual partners of either gender, which left her with a very mature stance towards sex and an intense hatred for authority.
  • In I Have A Bed Made Of Buttermilk Pancakes, Cassie Zing knows that her mother writes erotic fiction (without reading the examples we get to see), and can spell words like "f**k" and "c**t". She's also extraordinarily perceptive. So when she submits her entry for the school play, she writes a story where two teachers get their students to teach the class while they have sex. She also includes the two aforementioned swear words, without realising that they're unacceptable in school. And she's also seven. She has no idea what this "sex" thing IS, and the one scene where the teachers are supposed to be "haveing" it actually consists of one asking the other what the swear words actually mean (as she herself has no idea).
  • It's part of sex offender Fred Lauren's Backstory in Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's Lucifer's Hammer.
  • Bran, a seven-year-old boy in A Song of Ice and Fire, watches a brother and sister having sex. The incident actually grants him a prophetic sight. That, and the coma that came after the said brother saw Bran, threw him out of the tower's window, thus breaking his back, leaving him crippled for the rest of his life.
  • Strongly implied in Henry James's novella The Turn of the Screw.
  • Many examples of this in the works of V. C. Andrews.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Being Human, Mitchell befriends a child named Bernie and offers to lend him a DVD of a silent movie; Bernie takes the wrong DVD and ends up watching a porn film made by one of Mitchell's vampire friends. Bernie doesn't seem scarred by it, but his mother is not happy, and accuses Mitchell of being a pervert.
  • In one episode of Friends, Monica is concerned about Ross's 7-year-old son, Ben, seeing some dirty words on an arcade game. Chandler, who grew up with incredibly neglectful and thoughtless parents, doesn't see what the big deal is, and this ensues:
    Monica: Well, Ben's coming over tonight and he can't see this.
    Chandler: Come on, by age seven, kids have already seen orgies. (Monica and Phoebe give him weird looks) Was it just me?
  • Scrubs has this example from J.D. when trying to appeal to Molly's preference for damaged men.
    J.D.: My emotional journey began at 5 years old when I walked in on my parents having sex in a position my father would later playfully describe as "the jackhammer."
  • Shameless (US) is known for doing this:
    • Debbie (13), Carl (12) and Liam (2) Gallagher share the house with their older siblings Fiona (21/22) and Lip (17/18), and both had multiple sexual experiences in their house with the kids still around. In fact, in the very first episode, Fiona and Steve have sex in the kitchen about two minutes after they went upstairs, and they were quite loud. It's also implied Carl walked in on Lip and Karen once.
    • Karen started having sexual experiences when she was eleven years old. Mandy is also implied to have started around the same time; when Debbie tells Mandy that she isn't sure if she's ready to have sex with her new boyfriend (her first time), Mandy's response is "you're 13, why did you wait so long?"
    • This is the reason why Mandy asks Fiona to keep her younger half-sister Molly at the Gallagher home instead of Mandy's house:
      Lip: We're not putting her in a house where the father has a habit of raping his daughter in his sleep.
    • Ethel, Kevin and Veronica's foster daughter from the first two seasons, was raised in a polygamous cult and married off to the much older leader when she was only 11 and has a toddler son. Her complete nonchalance about it unnerves everyone.
  • On Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, the main character and his friend Curtis once watched a home-made sex tape starring Curtis' grossly obese parents. The experience scarred Todd for life, giving him a crippling fear of fat people. (Which was a plot point, as that episode's Monster of the Week was turning people fat.) Curtis was unaffected.


  • Biff from Death of a Salesman began his slide into listlessness, unemployment and failed intimate relationships after stumbling across his father in the middle of an affair as a teen. An example of the affected character being a minor but not a child.

    Video Games 
  • In the Fate Series, Kiara Sessyoin was raised in a secluded fringe Buddhist cult that practiced rampant sex all around her and she spent most of her childhood dying from a curable disease because no one bothered to get her proper treatment. What happened next depends on which universe's Kiara you're talking about: Fate/EXTRA's eventually became a nun in said cult and then became a cult leader regarded as a "Last Prophet" for bringing salvation through hedonism and causing thousands of suicides, while in Fate/Grand Order she escaped and eventually became a well respected therapist. The GO version of Kiara was doing pretty well until the Demon Pillar Zepar forced her to remember her other life and she embraced it to the point of becoming an outright Evil of Humanity desiring to drown the entire planet in orgasmic bliss.

    Visual Novels 
  • Invoked in Double Homework by Rachel’s mom when she realizes that the protagonist and Rachel were having sex in her house. It’s not that she’s necessarily against them having sex, but she tells them sternly not to let Rachel’s preteen brother see what they’re doing, nor find any “evidence.”
  • Averted with Xianne in Melody. She has worked in her aunt’s massage parlor, and dutifully followed the policy of offering each male customer a happy ending. Doing the math, it is implied that she started before her eighteenth birthday. However, she’s clearly no worse off for it, having a healthier attitude toward sex than most other characters do.

  • Kotomi from Cross Heart was raped by a stranger at age nine when she asked him to help her look for her parents. Her parents acted inappropriately - saying she was Defiled Forever and trying to push the incident under the rug - which caused her to become a loner. She doesn't like getting close to people in fear they will learn about her past and leave her.
  • Etra chan saw it!:
    • When Tachibana was a boy, he witnessed his mother sleeping with another man, with the man resembling Tachibana himself. When Yuzuriha caught and threatened him to be quiet, he blocks the memory until his adulthood, where he crashes into a truck and unlock that memory.
    • After Akane picked up Karin and Yuzuriha from prep-school, the two impatiently left the car to look for their mom, only to see her kissing their teacher, Hiiragi. They expose it to their father, Kuroki, who divorces Akane and sues both her and Hiiragi.
  • Several examples happen to kids in Forest Hill:
    • Benni was raised by a pedophile father who forced him to work as a prostitute, including forcing him to rape other children, and brainwashed Benni into believing that all parents do this to their children.
    • Talitha is also the child of a pedophile and is one of the children Benni was forced to rape. She also enjoys masturbating and watching pornography, despite only being about 6 years old. Unlike Benni, she acts like a Cheerful Child, and she has willingly molested at least one other child, Hunter, and doesn't realize that she did anything wrong.
    • Tanya gets tied up, stabbed in the foot, drugged, and raped by some older kids she antagonized. Although she was unconscious during the rape and it was interrupted by Benni coming to rescue her, her hymen was torn, which later leads to her accidentally having her first orgasm when she examines herself after Talitha masturbated in front of her.
    • In order to help Benni understand why it is wrong for adults to have sex with kids, Flora reveals that she fell in love with a pedophile when she was a child and didn't think there was anything wrong with it until she discovered she wasn't her lover's only victim.
  • Catching her father cheating on her mother with another woman was Susan's Freudian Excuse for becoming a Straw Feminist in El Goonish Shive.
  • Ménage à 3, revealed that Yuki was inadvertently exposed to her father's tentacle porn at a very early age (she looks about 5 years old) which heavily contributed to her "dickiphobia" later in life. Her father is the "Tentacle King", a world-renowned hentai artist so the stuff was his own creation. At some other time, her father brought Yuki to a set filming a live-action adaptation of his tentacle porn because he couldn't find a babysitter. In the present day, the sight of a penis (real or illustrated) causes her to hallucinate seeing tentacles coming out of the guy's crotch. He then named the main character in one of his hentai series after her. Or possibly the other way round. It's unclear which is worse.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!: In "My Purity Ball and Chain", it's revealed that Stan's father Jack would have sex with prostitutes in front of him, and on one occasion made him retrieve his watch from inside a prostitute (because he had small hands). In "I Am the Walrus!", Stan deliberately sets his own son Steve up to see him and Francine having sex, in an effort to re-establish himself as the alpha male of the house.
  • Family Guy:
    • The strangler in the episode "Fat Guy Strangler" murders fat guys because when he was a child, he walked in on his mother with Jackie Gleason.
    Jackie Gleason: Pow! Right in the kisser!
    • An earlier episode had Stewie walking in on his parents. He showed more trauma than Bart, though it was also played for comedy.
  • Another Metalocalypse example: Skwisgaar's mom, Serveta Skwigelf, was a very promiscuous slut, a fact he won't argue with. A flashback showed him coming home from school to be greeted by the sight of Serveta having a threesome. On the plus side, it did take him on the road to being a guitar god.
  • Moral Orel: After Principal Fakey discovers he has gonorrhea from having sex with Nurse Bendy, he assumes that his wife cheated on him as he's having sex with her. He angrily goes to confront his wife about . . . by walking out of the nurse's office throughout the school hallway without putting his pants back on.
  • The Simpsons:
    • This was played for comedy when a young Bart's first words were in response to walking in on his parents when he was a toddler. Bart saw it again when he was ten; Milhouse just tells him that seeing both parents doing it is better than seeing only one parent doing it.
    • An episode in Season 3 features the children watching a sex-ed video, that apparently goes on very explicit details.
    The children: EWWWWW!
    Mrs. Krappabel: She's faking it.
    • Downplayed in "Bart After Dark", which has Bart working in a burlesque house. The manager didn't really want him there, so she deliberately assigned him duties that kept him away from the dancers (mostly janitorial work and waiting the door, plus one night he filled in for a comedian). Bart was mostly just happy to be there.
  • South Park:
    • In the episode "Return of the Ring to the Two Towers", Stan's parents rent "the single-most hardcore porno ever made", Backdoor Sluts 9, and accidentally mix up which one they gave to the kids to lend to their friend Butters, with all the boys Role Playing as original characters. Butters subsequently acts very much like Gollum (Verbal Tics and all) when the boys take it back, prompting them to convene a council to figure out what is up with that movie. They send Token into the house to watch it (minimizing its "evil influence") - he comes back out with his regular clothing on and says "I'm out".
    • Lampshaded by "Good time with weapons", where Butters ends up with a shuriken in his eye, bleeding out, disguised as a dog crying pathetically "Woof, woof." but when Cartman sneaks by naked THIS TROPE is what people are outraged about.

Examples of Kids being exposed to both:

    Comic Books 
  • In Runaways, 11-year-old Klara joined the Runaways in order to escape from a life where she was repeatedly physically and sexually abused. Unfortunately, a fledgling superhero team turns out to be a terrible environment for a traumatized girl, as she has to deal with two consecutive alien invasions, her best friend hulking out and nearly attacking her, a zombie infestation, and a house falling on her. And on top of that, she inadvertently learns more about her older teammates' sex lives than she ever wanted to after walking in on a game of Truth Or Dare.
  • X-23:
    • Laura Kinney was subjected outright horrific violence and abuse almost from birth by the Facility, including deliberate exposure to violent and disturbing images and deprivation of emotional support in an effort to break her of her humanity. And when her creators decided she still had too much empathy (probably because her mother attempted to violate the "no emotional support" order whenever possible) they forced her to kill a puppy. A puppy that she played with instead, so they told her it would be tortured to death right in front of her as punishment for failure. And this is even before they started sending her out as a hired killer, her "test run" being the slaughter of a presidential candidate, his family, and a roomful of press, security, and other functionaries. Laura then became a child prostitute in New York City.
    • Her cousin Megan fell victim to this trope when Kimura and the Facility's agents came looking for her, and got a front-row seat as Laura tore her mother's boyfriend (actually a Facility plant) to shreds and slaughtered a Facility hit team sent to recover her (while being tortured herself by Kimura to punish Laura for escaping.)
  • The Teen Titans villain Cheshire was kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery when she was about ten-years-oldnote . After killing her slaver, she was informally adopted by Chinese freedom fighter Weng Chan, who taught her all he knew about guerrilla fighting and thus set her on the path of becoming an assassin.

    Fan Works 

  • In Silenced, a Korean film revolving around the true story of an abuse scandal at a school for hearing-impaired children, staff are depicted beating, grooming and raping students as young as eight. Also, the novel on which it was based.
  • In Danny the Dog, a.k.a. Unleashed, a very young Danny had witnessed the murder of his mother by Bart, who definitely groped her and may have done worse. Unusual in that he attacks the assailant, rather than staying hidden or going into shock.
  • In Julia X, Julia and Jessica where sexually abused by their father, and later saw him murder their mother when she discovered what was going on. This is what drove them to become vigilantes hunting sexual predators as adults.
  • The film The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc has young Joan witness her sister murdered then raped (yes, in that order). This leads to her either going crazy or being touched by God.
  • Mathilda Lando's entire childhood before and after she became Leon's protege in The Professional.
  • Played for laughs with Eric in Mystery Team, who can be seen hanging out in strip clubs and claims to have been shot three times.
  • The Russian short film Lyuba is a deeply uncomfortable look at child abuse in which a little girl runs away from her abusive mother and hides out in the woods, where she reenacts her abuse with her dolls, at which point it becomes clear that she's also been sexually abused as well.
  • In The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, a young Sherlock Holmes witnessed his mother in bed with his math tutor, and then his father killing her for adultery, leading to his life long distrust of women, his passion for justice and his delusion that the relatively harmless Professor Moriarty, his tutor, was the Napoleon of Crime.
  • In the first Silent Night, Deadly Night, Billy has a... traumatic childhood. First, he sees a deranged psychopath in a Santa Claus costume murder his parents, leaving him alone with his infant brother at the age of seven. Understandably, this causes him to have a fear of Santa Claus. At the age of ten, he saw two orphanage workers having sex; the extremely strict Mother Superior told him all sex was evil. Naturally, he believed her. Then one fateful night at the age of 18 he witnesses one of his coworkers (who happens to be dressed as Santa) raping one of the female workers. It all proves too much, causing him to finally snap and go on a killing spree killing everyone he believed to be naughty.
  • In the most recent Zatoichi film, the twins had their entire family and servants murdered by yakuza, and were then forced to sell themselves for money to survive.

  • The In Death series: Oh, lord! Eve Dallas was beaten and raped by her father when she was 3 years old. He intended to turn her into a prostitute and sell her to child molesters. Her mother had mistreated her and then left her with her father, and she had to have known what the man intended to do to his own daughter. The abuse continued until she was eight years old when she managed to stab her father to death while he was trying to rape her again. She also had to face more problems after that. Roarke was beaten up by his father and his non-biological mother left him because she cared nothing for him. Nixie Swisher from Survivor in Death witnessed murder when her family was slaughtered in one night. It shouldn't hurt to be a kid!
  • Felix and Mildmay of Doctrine of Labyrinths were sold by their mother at the ages of three or four to 'Keepers.' Felix's beat him severely leaving him with massive scarring on his back and nearly drowned him several times, started on him sexually at eight, and after the Keeper's death in a massive fire (that killed the few friends the boy had) he ended up in a brothel that catered to BDSM. And that's all before he's bought by the Big Bad Mildmay's keeper tended toward more psychological torture than physical, but she started sleeping with him herself when he was almost fourteen and began training him to kill people at the same time. By the time they meet as adults, they're two of the most screwed up people in their canon and that's saying something.
  • Nick Perumov's Keeper of the Swords cycle. It is revealed that Dark Magical Girl Sylvia had to fight in the wars (as a witch) from early on so that by ten(!), she was "already considered a battle-hardened veteran". She also suggests that she witnessed another witch, Seges, being a "pervert", though it's not clear whether she herself was abused. In the story itself, she has a Near-Death Experience AT LEAST once a book. She gets speared, buried under the rubble of a tower, her head smashed with a candelabra, hit by magical lightning... Way to have a childhood.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Legacy of the Force and Ben Skywalker. Picture a thirteen-year-old boy joining his cousin's version of the Hitler Youth, being trained as a Sith, regularly tortured, taken to a Sith planet (and choosing not to eat the girl), and then he turns 14, his mother dies, his memory's wiped, he assassinates a head of state, he's tortured, offered sex in exchange for information, and when neither of those work, he's forced to watch a friend die.
  • In one of the first chapters of Redeeming Love, Sarah witnesses a man being strangled to death, then she herself gets sold into prostitution. She's eight.
  • Secrets Not Meant to be Kept has Treehouse, a preschool that is actually a toddler sex ring. For twenty years, preschoolers have been molested and exploited for child pornography. Regarding the violence, it is not against the kids themselves or other humans, but animals. To terrorize the kids into silence, the staff at Treehouse kill live rabbits — which they previously assigned to the kids to care for as an incentive to cooperate with the molestation — right in front of the kids.
  • Bran, the Painted Man in The Sevenwaters Trilogy, believes himself to have been abandoned by his mother and was found by a vicious brute that he knows only by the name of Uncle, who abuses him and has sex with his wife in front of him. It leads him to a life of abstinence because he believes that if he does the "sweating, grunting thing" he will be no better than Uncle. He escapes by administering "justice" (a clean knife-stroke to the heart)... when he is 9 years old.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire Arya Stark spends a few weeks watching people get tortured every night and seeing women willingly have sex and women getting raped. She herself has been threatened with rape. In Harrenhal she sees several women put in stocks getting raped as a form of punishment. She was beaten bloody and caned until blood ran down her thighs more than once. Arya also saw multiple people get murdered and has forced herself to grow numb to death and violence on her journey. She's not even 12 yet.
    • Her sister Sansa hasn't had it any better. She had to endure the violent attentions of her fiance Joffrey, watching people get killed while enduring her share of physical abuse and humiliation as well. She was threatened with rape several times and almost raped twice, half stripped and beaten in the audience of court. She was also forced on her bed to sing for a drunk man who at the time was holding a knife to her throat. These Stark girls have seen too much.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A lot if not the majority of the killers pursued by the BAU team on Criminal Minds have incidents of this trope - violent, sexual, or (urk!) both simultaneously - in their own childhood backstories.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Ten-year-old Bran Stark is defenestrated for witnessing some incestuous adultery in the first episode, which sets the tone for the rest of the series. He later loses his father and his home and sees his mentors Rodrik, Luwin, and Jojen killed.
    • Sansa Stark endures years of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and harassment, including nearly being gang-raped by an angry mob. Even after her escape from King's Landing, she is subject to death threats and unsolicited sexual advances.
  • The crew on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit have to deal with cases of one or the other Once an Episode.
  • Michael of The Wire was molested by his stepfather at a young age, and was also exposed to the gang violence and drug culture of West Baltimore. He becomes a hardened hitman, drug dealer, and stick-up artist by the time he's fifteen.

    Video Games 
  • Depending on your interpretation of its events, The Path features the six playable Red sisters being exposed to the darker aspects of life. When each sister encounters her "wolf" in the woods, they reappear unconscious in front of Grandma's house, looking noticeably roughed up.
  • Drakengard involves a mission in which you must you kill Child Conscripts with which the main character shows practically no remorse over slaughtering. As well as this, the main antagonist is a six-year-old Enfant Terrible Add to the fact that one of the party members is a pedophile while the other is a child-murdering cannibal. The final party member? A six-year-old boy. Did we mention that Drakengard is not one of the most kid-friendly games on the planet?
  • Psychonauts:
    • As a boy, Sasha Nein's attempts to read his father's mind for memories of his deceased mother resulted in accidental Dirty Mind-Reading, which shocked Sasha so much that he packed his things and left home.
    • As a child, Coach Oleander was traumatized by watching his father slaughter his beloved pet rabbit. Oleander never got over the incident and his trauma persisted into adulthood.
  • As becomes aptly clear during the game, Jennifer in Rule of Rose has survived two distinct massacres in her childhood, and she's implied to have witnessed the sexual abuse of some of her fellow orphans as well. The game revolves around dealing with her traumas and helping her to face the future.
  • In Silent Hill: Downpour, Murphy's son Charlie was sexually assaulted and killed by a pedophile.
  • In Slow Damage, Towa repressed a lot of his childhood and it turns out to be for good reason, when he does recall it. He was one of several children used at his own mother's business, where clients were allowed to get their deepest, darkest desire fulfilled — whatever that desire may be. Towa has been stabbed and raped, abused and mutilated, over the course of years, leaving his body littered with scars of those horrible deeds that were done without his consent. This has left him with sadomasochistic tendencies, outright seeking pain because it's the only thing he knows.
  • Tsukihime:
    • The opening is a dream Shiki has remembering the death of his clan, and his mother dying while protecting him.
    • Kohaku and Hisui are twins with the power to boost the powers of other people... if they have sex with them. In order to hold at bay the increasing insanity he was succumbing to, the head of the Tohno household kidnaps the twins (probably murdering their families to do it, given what he does to Shiki's family), and forces sex upon Kohaku, while sparing Hisui (because he felt Kohaku would be easier to control), starting around when she was four years old. By the time of the main series' events, she is an utterly broken shell of a person and a Stepford Smiler who lives for revenge not out of hatred, but because she can't think of any other reason to live.
  • Xenogears has an overwhelming amount of examples. Most are spoilers to some degree and listing every canon party member and NPC with a horrible childhood backstory or present story from warfare to abuse to more would consume half of this page, so we shall leave it at that the characters' traumatizing childhoods are why they are so messed up and the world is a Crapsack World.
  • In Yakuza, former Yakuza Kazuma Kiryu takes nine-year-old Haruka to odd places when he isn't kicking major ass, such as gambling dens ("It's take your daughter to work day") and soaphouses ("It's a... social studies field trip").

    Web Animations 
  • The first episode of Helluva Boss starts off with the backstory of Mrs. Mayberry; a cheerful school teacher that has a strong care for her children. She forgot about her husband’s birthday and decides to video call him to surprise him, only for her and her students to catch sight of him on bed with another woman. Upon leaving the school, the remaining kids watched the computer that was left on as they witnessed their kind teacher go into a blind rage and kill off the woman alongside her ex-husband. She then comes to realization that she scarred her young students, causing her to commit suicide followed by her students fainting.

  • Homestuck:
    • Vriska Serket was raised by a giant spider which demanded she lure other children in to feed it, and her role model as a kid was the Villain Protagonist of a book of mind-control pirate erotica.
    • Dave had some of this too, as his brother made sex-toy puppets for a living, left hundreds of them lying around all over their apartment, set up traps which dropped heaps of puppets on Dave, and may have misled him into being involved offscreen in the production of at least one "puppet snuff film" involving a blender. Violence-wise, Bro also put Dave through Training from Hell with daily swordfights on the roof, and inexplicably kept the swords in question in the fridge, requiring Dave to hide food in his closet. The fanfic Brainbent takes this to the logical conclusion and has CPS intervene and remove Dave from Bro's custody, and many other fics have the same premise.
  • Unsounded: Lemuel was conscripted at age tweleve into a bloody civil war, and was raped by his superiors.

    Real Life 
  • In 1953, a five-year-old boy named Shigesato Itoi accidentally walked into a theater playing the movie The Military Policeman and the Dismembered Beauty during a sex scene followed by a murder scene (tame by today's standards, but a bit strong back then), and in his youthful naiveté mistook it for what he would later identify as a rape scene; regardless of what it was, it had a significant impact on his psyche. The ostensible result, after several decades of nightmares, was EarthBound (1994)'s infamous final boss, Giygas.
  • Various NGOs estimate that there are around 250,000 Child Soldiers in the world today.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Kid Seeing What Kids Shouldnt See


Dr. Robotnik (Sonic SatAM)

Dr. Robotnik subjects innocent Mobians to Unwilling Robotization, including the inventor of the roboticiser, Sir Charles Hedgehog.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (31 votes)

Example of:

Main / CompleteMonster

Media sources: