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Don't worry, he's eating according to the four elvish food groups.note 

Brother's in the playpen, doing like he's told,
Never mind the fact that he's thirty years old.
Al Duvall, "Five Against One"

Sometimes people just fail to develop into social or intellectual maturity. Maybe it's due to a very loving but confining mother or father, who don't suggest or won't let them get a job and move out, enabling their laziness or dependence instead. Maybe they were never taught any responsibility growing up, and now that they're adults, it's too late and they're set in their ways. Maybe they're a Spoiled Brat who's learned to manipulate their parents into doing what they want, and the parents came to the conclusion that it's just easier to indulge them than to fight about it. Or maybe they just didn't want to leave the nest. Maybe they've been intentionally secluded from learning about the world. Or they grew up as a neglected orphan without a proper education or any guidance towards adult life. Maybe their parents or legal guardians simply failed to teach them how to do things like cook for themselves, keep their home clean, balance the checkbook, make and stick to a budget, pay bills and taxes, do minor home repairs, or change a tire. Maybe they were literally Raised by Wolves. Maybe it's the result of brain damage, an intellectual disability or developmental disorder, or something sinister. Perhaps they just never had a life-changing moment involving a shotgun and a beloved pet. Maybe it's just a form of Mars and Venus Gender Contrast, or they live in a society with certain gender roles, where one sex is expected to be the responsible one, and the other is not expected to be (and is not always taught to be). Who can say?

Although the causes might not be clear, the effects are. The Man-Child, a term invented by William Faulkner, is usually an adult who possesses a very childlike or (stereotypically) childish demeanor. He's emotionally both simple and fragile; he prefers (although does not always need) to have a parent figure to look after him. He usually isn't very worldly and is typically pretty gullible. The Man-Child's interests are usually what most people consider to be immature or childish, sometimes even in comparison to actual children.

The character is almost Always Male. This is (presumably) to contrast the differences between him and "normal men" with the normal responsibilities and wisdom of adulthood. The female version is usually split between The Ingenue, the Manic Pixie, the Genki Girl, or other tropes which highlight an adult woman's child-like attributes rather than her grown-up persona. Manchild has many more negative connotations than The Ingenue; the manchild's immaturity and lack of outward adult behavior is emphasized as being a bad thing versus being an emphasized good thing like The Ingenue's purity and idealism. This is also because of the Double Standard most societies have, which exist for various reasons, where they expect more from men than they do from women. More contemporary works are increasingly likely to play female examples as unsympathetic (or, at the very least, deeply flawed), with a characterization that is fairly similar - irresponsible, unreliable, unable or unwilling to meet basic adult responsibilities on their own, and dependent on others. When portrayed unsympathetically, female examples are typically more dysfunctional than male examples, as their parasitism is typically aimed at partners (usually viewing them as meal tickets and lifestyle subsidizers, and often cheating on them when they grow bored with them or find a better provider), and they also tend to have more severe mental health issues and are more likely to have serious issues with substances.

On the Brain Chain, the Man Child occupies a space between The Cloud Cuckoolander and The Ditz, but without necessarily becoming The Fool. He usually does not have The Fool's luck, but he doesn't necessarily play the role of the Butt-Monkey either. Although the Man-Child is commonly portrayed as being mentally challenged, he does not necessarily have to be. In many cases, the character may be very intelligent, and even leave the idealism aside and be very shrewd in business or career, but this only makes him seem creepy when others find out his emotional immaturity. Alternatively, his childlike qualities/way of thinking, when intelligently applied, can be a basis for his success as a businessman, in which case he's also The Wonka.

In comedic works, he usually plays the role of The Ditz. In dramatic works, he could be the Jerk with a Heart of Gold due to his simplicity or immaturity, or the sympathetic character we come to love. Sometimes the Man Child embarks on a late-in-the-day Coming of Age Story, which ushers him into true adulthood. Note that usually Sex as Rite-of-Passage works only some of the time. In many instances, a Man Child is not necessarily a virgin, but only sees sex as a tool of pleasure and does not recognize its emotional significance. If he ever gets married, it's likely that his wife will end up being a mother-figure not only to their children but to him as well, doing all the "emotional labor" needed to keep the household afloat while he just coasts along and drags her into all sorts of wacky hijinks. If he doesn't, there's a good chance that he's a Glorified Sperm Donor - he very likely knocked up an ex or casual sex partner, but plays no role in the child's life whatsoever, either because he can't or because he won't (quite often both).

Some will agree that this is Truth in Television for certain people, as there do exist many immature adults out there who refuse to grow up. Sometimes it's just people who are capable of engaging in adult responsibilities but have childlike interests and personalities in their free time, other times it's adults who somehow have all the knowledge capable of living independently yet the emotional maturity and mentality of a spoiled child (or teenager). The likeliest cause of the man-child is a sheltered upbringing or mental illness, particularly Peter Pan Syndrome.

One of the Kids is related, in where their childishness is caused by spending a lot of time around children. When events will force him to be independent, he will be Not Used to Freedom.

Does not relate to Never Grew Up, because they physically did grow up - but never outgrew being attached to immature or childish things or behavior. Sister Trope (perhaps) to Adults Dressed as Children, although that trope is almost always played for laughs or borders on the grotesque. Compare Keet, One of the Kids, Kiddie Kid. For a villainous version, see Psychopathic Manchild. Compare Basement-Dweller. May form a Nerd Hoard out of items relating to their childish obsessions. Not related to Manchild, the British TV series, either. Compare and contrast The Three Faces of Adam. Contrast with Wise Beyond Their Years, where a child acts like an adult. Can overlap with Only One Finds It Fun for when the manchild is entertained by children's entertainment that fails to entertain the actual children. May engage in the Jinx Game as an adult and expect others to abide by the rules.

Adult women may reveal such tendencies with the use of the Feminine Leg Swish. noreallife

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Asian Animation 
  • In Boonie Bears, despite being a grown adult, Bramble - the younger of the two bear brothers - acts naive and childish and is easily distracted by food.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Zig-Zagged by San, true to his rather childlike behavior among Ghidorah's three heads in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019). He's genuinely inquisitive and can often be very childlike even though he's an eons-old former piece of a Draconic Abomination, but besides being cute, this also highlights San's Dark and Troubled Past of being abused and starved of affection by his brothers (Ghidorah's other two heads) for billions of years. On the other hand, when San isn't being playful and childlike, he's very much capable of being serious and responsible.
  • Always Visible: Jordan Thurlow, who chose to work as a culturologist because he really dislikes work.
  • Serizawa in the Mob Psycho 100 fanfic Man Child He doesn't have the first clue how to take care of himself after breaking free from Claw...or so it seems. It's revealed later on that this has all been an act to get closer to Reigen.
  • A downplayed example in A Growing Affection with Naruto. Most evident when he's giddy at the prospect of building sand castles despite being 16 and a competant shinobi. Painfully justified since Naruto's painful and lonely past as a result of being the jinchuuriki means that he never got to experience such simple pleasures of childhood. After Ino actually asks him why he's excited, he does remind her of this, causing her to promptly shut up.
  • In Ace Combat: The Equestrian War Cloud Kicker, one of main heroines, has a very childish personality most of the time.
  • In Batshark, a Fusion Fic combining a cartoon crossover with Batman, Elliot the deer plays Two-Face as a half-adult-half-manchild as opposed to a half-lawyer-half-criminal. And then there is the fusion of The Joker and The Warden...
  • In Death's Design, Fate's Plan Hermione referred to Sirius as a "man child without the ability to grow up." Sirius replied that Harry's mother once said something very similar to him and Remus commented that every female he knew had said something similar at one time or another.
  • Gordon Freeman, as depicted in Freeman's Mind, was this the even before his mental breakdown, apparently acting immature the whole time he worked at Black Mesa and doing many childish things like playing racket ball in the anti-mass spectrometer and doing a cannonball into his bath tub. And there's the episode where he discovers a cart that goes around in circles at high speeds. He just spends a full minute sitting there pressing the button that sends it back and forth while screaming "Weeeeeeeeee!". Let it be known that there's an alien invasion the middle of all this.
  • In Friday Night Funkin' HD, Boyfriend is 19-years-old, yet he still has fun visiting a Mall Santa.
  • Guys Being Dudes: Arlo is in his 20s and has the personality of an Emo Teen as well as enjoying making innuendos a bit too much. Spark acknowledges it, deciding that he, being a Transgender man, "couldn't be a preteen boy when he was a preteen, so he's making up for lost time".
  • Likewise, in The Life of the Legendaries, Legendaries Mew and Jirachi are extremely immature and have many, many childish habits.
  • The Grand Ruler from My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic. He likes to play hopscotch.
  • In The Last Casualties Voldemort put Harry's parents into suspended animation in a pocket dimension for thirteen years instead of killing them outright. Lily called James a man child in exasperated affection when he gave Snape a "welcome back present" by turning his robe pink.
  • In Poké Wars, Mew is depicted as being incredibly immature. As evidenced by his words upon meeting Latias.
    Mew: Hi. I'm Mew. Wanna play?
  • In The Power of the Mind Remus referred to Sirius as "special" while apologizing for his behavior to a Muggle salesclerk. Harry later asked if there was any truth to that because Sirius was the biggest man child he'd ever met.
  • Beelzebub from Sonic X: Dark Chaos is an immature drug-fueled hedonist that would easily be the poster for a man child if he wasn't also incredibly dangerous.
  • Dragon Ball Abridged portrays Nappa as this. In this story, he is a borderline disabled Psychopathic Manchild whose dialogue mainly consists of non-sequiturs and random annoyances to his partner Vegeta to the point that "Goddammit, Nappa!" has become his catchphrase.
  • Pacific: World War II U.S. Navy Shipgirls has Chester, who treats other peoples' weapons like toys and throws them around without second thought, not to mention acting childish even during the middle of combat.
  • The Tyrant and the Hero has Black Alice, who wears a "dress that wouldn’t have looked out of place on someone ten years younger" and owns a teddy bear. The plot is kicked off by her mother sending her on a journey around the world in order to gain some maturity.
  • In Danny Phantom fanfic ResurrectedMemories: Ember is one of these. Despite having been a ghost for 30 years, she has not grown passed her rebellious teenage mentality.
  • Children of Remnant: Weiss was hit with the Darkness the most of her siblings, and it caused her personality to regress to that of a young child. "Nice Weiss" specifically exists so that she can be more responsible when absolutely necessary.
  • C Listers: Killer Moth is basically a little kid trying to be a super villain and live out his childish fantasies of being "the anti-Batman", and he constantly whines about no one taking him seriously. As more of his darker side becomes apparent, he starts to border on being a Psychopathic Manchild, but he's ultimately too much of a moron to make the leap.
  • Adrien in Spellbound (Lilafly) is a teenager but gets easily excited about kindness, birthday parties, cake, and making friends. Partially because he's been socially isolated from just about everyone except his brother Félix and their friend Chloé, and partially because he's half faerie.
  • Frayed Edges: Ennard acts like an innocent child, with a curious fascination for even the most mundane of things and an often simplistic sense of the world. It is deconstructed, as for all intents Ennard is a child who was kept isolated their entire life, with only their fellow animatronics and their abusive creator William Afton for company.
  • War of Remnant: A RWBY Anthology: Oobleck can be rather immature for a teacher, when he realized Cinder’s team was Team CMEN was pronounced Caiman, he was about to point out he thought it was pronounced some other way before Port interrupted him.

    Films — Animation 
  • Jasmine's father, the sultan, from Aladdin. At times he acts very childish, such as collecting toys and getting really excited when riding the carpet. To be fair, at times Jafar is magically controlling the sultan. Things get better when Aladdin breaks Jafar's staff.
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire: Milo Thatch is not stupid, but he does not know how to treat other commanders and scientists with high quality.
  • Cars: Tow Mater. Even though he's 60 years old, he literally has the emotional and mental capacity of a 7-year-old child. He has a lot of the traits of a child. He's enthusiastic, optimistic, cheerful, loyal to a fault, and very sweet, like a child. He's also incredibly playful and friendly, like a child. His emotions are those of a child because when he gets angry, his anger only lasts for a couple of seconds. All of his emotions last only for a couple of seconds, and he has genuine yet simple emotions. He's a very innocent person.
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs:
    • "Baby Brent" certainly comes across as one. He's the same age as Flint, but he doesn't seem to be doing anything with his life besides being popular and still acts like a schoolyard bully. That he still reenacts the commercial he appeared in as a baby, diaper and all, seems to be a serious case of Lampshade Hanging.
    • And on the other hand, there's Flint himself. He puts fake security equipment in his lab and pretends to use it when he comes and goes. Even the kids in the neighborhood think he's weird.
  • Frozen (2013): Princess Anna is a naïve young lady with no sense of regal etiquette and a fairytale-like view of romance. It makes sense due to being cooped up in the castle for so long. Downplayed as she's only eighteen.
  • Quasimodo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney) is also shares some of these traits as he plays with wooden toys, going as far as replicating a miniature version of medieval Paris out of wooden models. He even talks to gargoyles with others thinking that he is delusional in doing this and he is very enthusiastic on going to the festival of fools much like a child would. Unfortunately very justified given he was raised by an abusive and hypocritical judge who killed Quasimodo's mother and has his father arrested and he was forced to stay in the Norte Dame church for twenty years, preventing him from interacting with other people.
  • Sid from Ice Age, so very, very much! Remember the time he got worried about what Santa Claus thinks?
  • Po from Kung Fu Panda is one of those. He is in his 20s and is a master of Kung Fu, but he is very immature as he takes bubble baths and plays with action figures (granted, ones he made himself).
  • Batman from The LEGO Batman Movie acts far more immature than his comics counterpart, such as throwing a fit when Alfred reminds him he has to attend Jim Gordon's retirement party and generally refusing to do anything that isn't completely centered around him. Alfred even reads a book on parenting spoiled children when dealing with Batman just to drive the point home.
  • The LEGO Movie: Implied of "The Man Upstairs" a.k.a Finn's Dad, the owner of the LEGO sets the main characters originate. He's not a stereotypical depiction of the trope, but he does own a lot of LEGO and, when pressed that the age on the boxes indicates that they're children's toys suitable for those between the ages of 8 and 14, defensively responds thus:
    The Man Upstairs: That's a suggestion. They have to put that on there.
  • Lilo & Stitch:
    • Pleakley has a very childish fascination with the cultures of earth as he reacts with childish glee over studying things such as rocks or holidays. In one episode of the series it is revealed that he eats sugary cereals for breakfast. His voice also sounds childish on occasion.
    • Gantu also has some traits of this. Despite being a hulking, authoritative brute, Gantu is revealed to enjoy bubble baths and he even plays with bath toys and reenacting battle scenes with the toys in a childish way.
  • The Lion King (1994): Scar is this to some extent, too, though at the beginning it's more subtle. However, as he becomes king, he acts like a toddler, as he continuously throws temper tantrums when he doesn't get what he wants or when the other animals upset him. He, in fact, starts to act even more immaturely than the hyenas, Timon & Pumbaa, and the actual kid characters do in the movie as he becomes king.
  • Madagascar:
    • Word of God is that Ridiculously Cute Critter Mort the mouse lemur, who looks and acts like a child, is the lemur equivalent of a 35-year-old.
    • Julien has tendencies this way as well; he's constantly demanding attention and throws tantrums when he doesn't get what he wants, but at the same time gets very upset and starts talking to his plush toys when he's lonely, and it's revealed via the magic of the Golden Squirrel that his greatest desire is simply to have his friends near him.
  • Waffles, the horned toad from Rango, has a childlike personality and matching intelligence.
  • Robin Hood (1973): Prince John is very whiny, often throws temper tantrums, constantly sucks his thumb and cries very easily.
  • Shrek 2: Prince Charming is an immature narcissist who is such a child that he still gets the kid's meal at Friar's Fat Boy. It's the result of being under the thumb of his domineering mother, the Fairy Godmother.
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Dopey is an adult dwarf who looks and acts like a young child around 5- to 7-years-old.
  • Spies in Disguise: Walter Beckett is comical, inept, and almost clumsy, but he's always building impressive gadgets, which are considered substitutes for weapons. In Audi advertising, Walter is also almost cowardly. He's initially scared of chasing.
  • In The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Spike is a grown-up with a Foreman job, but has the mentality of a schoolyard bully in mistreating his former employees Mario and Luigi when they worked at his job, and insulting them after that.
  • Wallace & Gromit: Wallace is rather giddy and socially inept, shows disgust towards vegetables, plays with his inventions like toys, and fails to take most things seriously. Gromit the dog is shown to have far more emotional maturity (let alone common sense) than his master.
  • Zootopia: Benjamin Clawhauser is a police officer, yet he eats sugary cereals for breakfast, squeals like a little girl, and can be childishly oblivious at times.

  • British lad-mag Loaded was predicated on this trope and serviced the needs of Man-Children who were beginning to feel marginalized and scorned by a society and culture that no longer valued them as much. At its peak in The '90s it had a circulation approaching half a million and spawned many imitators, including American equivalents like GQ and Maxim.

  • Ringo Starr's persona in The Beatles. They generally gave him rather sweet, childish songs to sing, like "With a Little Help From My Friends", "Yellow Submarine", and "Octopus's Garden" (which he wrote himself).
  • Blink182's "What's My Age Again?" is about a 23-year old who is about to get laid, but he gets distracted by the TV, so the girl leaves, and he prank calls her mother in retaliation.
  • David Bowie's song "Uncle Arthur" whose protagonist runs a shop but demonstrates all the properties of a manchild.
  • Devin Millar takes this up not to eleven, but 12. He dresses like a young girl with skirts and bows, has a girlish hairdo, and uses childish vocabulary. His animated characters also dress this way from the girls to even the boys.
  • Buckethead, the stage persona of musician Brian Carroll, is generally built around being both childish and a little creepy. It's common for Buckethead to play with toys and trade them with the audience during his live performances. He'll also avoid talking or giving interviews in general, except in a few recorded ones where he uses his scary mask / puppet Herbie to "speak for him".
  • Counting Crows' "Round Here", is about not having a conception of what being an adult means, "Round here we're never sent to bed early, no one makes us wait. Round here we stay up very, very, very, very late"
  • The Idle Race's "I Like My Toys", which deals with a thirty-one year old man's desire to play with his childhood toys instead of looking for a job, much to his parents' chagrin.
  • The late Michael Jackson is often said to be one. As a child, he was unable to participate in normal childhood activities due to having a demanding Stage Dad. As an adult, he engaged in childish pursuits like building a personal amusement park in his home, Neverland Ranch (whose name also connotes this trope). His song "Childhood" illustrates his struggles.
  • In Barry Louis Polisar's "I Don't Wanna go to School", Tommy hides under his covers, whines and pouts to his mother about not wanting to go to school, even though he's the Principal. His mother understandably tells him to grow up.
    Only little boys and girls
    Ever act like you do
  • In the movie The Wall, it's implied that Old Pink is one. For example, when a girl seduces him in his hotel room, he responds by trashing up the place; in "The Thin Ice" he's seen watching a Tom and Jerry cartoon on the TV; and, in "Is There Anybody Out There?" when he's building a mandala/replica of a military barracks/whatever it's supposed to be, a battery-powered toy robot is visible among the props.
  • Weezer's song "Dreamin'".
  • Jonathan Richman poses as one to boast his innocent songs.
  • "Manchild" by Eels from their album Beautiful Freak about his sister who committed suicide in a mental institution.
  • Joni Mitchell's song "A Strange Boy" from the album Hejira is about a lover who shares some man child traits:
    What a strange boy
    He still lives with his family
    Even the war and the navy
    Could not bring him to maturity.
  • Daniel Amos's "Baby Game" (from ¡Alarma!) is about a female example. It's a satire of Christians who never bother to learn anything about their faith and just keep believing exactly what they did as a child.
    Little birds are helpless, way up in the tree
    They cry for mother almost constantly
    But little birds must one day take their wing
    I told her this, she threw her rattle at me
  • The Lonely Island's "Threw It On The Ground" features the protagonist defiantly throwing a bunch of things on the ground for all sorts of stupid reasons, such as a hot dog because he's not "gonna be a part of your system", his "so-called girlfriend"'s cellphone because his dad's calling and "my dad's not a phone", and a kid's birthday cake to welcome him "to the real world, jackass" while insisting "I'M AN ADULT!"
  • Implied to be the case with the subject of the song Stiches by Orgy. At one point the singer angrily says "Unsatisfied? You little girl!"
  • "The Archer" by Taylor Swift says, "I never grew up, it's getting so old."
  • The music video for "Free Will at Ease" by Skating Polly portrays this by showing Peyton dating a guy who flops between being portrayed by an adult actor and a literal little boy. He demonstrates both obnoxious man traits, like mansplaining music and groping Peyton's sister Kelli, and childish traits such as playing with his food and being a picky eater.
  • The Vocaloid song The Lost One's Weeping by Neru has this gem as it's Wham Line in it's final chorus:
    いつになりゃ大人になれますか (Why don't you grow up?)
    そもそも大人とは一体全体何ですか (What the hell is growing up?)

    Newspaper Comics 
  • The Arbuckle brothers in Garfield both have problems with this. Jon sometimes regresses to thumb-sucking and tantrum-throwing when he gets emotionally vulnerable. Doc Boy still needs his Security Blanket to sleep, childishly teased Jon when the latter got a girlfriend and was shown in the Christmas special to get a toy airplane as a present. Both also show childish happiness at hearing the same Christmas story read to them every year and opening presents. There seems to be an element of nurture to their behavior, as their mother still sees them as her little boys and treats them as such. In his more self-aware moments, Jon makes attempts to grow out of this, but Status Quo Is God dooms his efforts.
  • Darryl and Wanda from Baby Blues aren't really that much more mature than their children (Zoe, Hammie and Wren) as Darryl can be seen engaging with childish activities with the kids and Wanda bawls like a baby when something goes really wrong for her.
  • InSecurity has Sedine, a Cloud Cuckoolander Genki Girl who is so childish she makes Sam seem more like her babysitter than her husband, then there's Sedine's cousin Roy...
  • Ted of Sally Forth (Howard) loves collecting geek memorabilia and trivia and is prone to being a Sore Loser. He's even referred to himself as such one time. There are some deconstructive elements with him, as his estranged relationship with his father is hinted to be why he regresses to childish demeanor as a coping mechanism and Sally has made it clear to him at least once that he has to become more of an adult if he wants to keep their relationship healthy.
  • The main character in The Norm is this. This is deconstructed many times, with Norm genuinely struggling at adulthood and him trying to be mature contributing to his depression.
  • The title character of Luann, after the cast's graduation from high school. Between her constantly messy room, hitting up her parents for money, avoidance of schoolwork, hangups around sexuality, as well as her overall “head in the clouds” demeanor, it’s pretty easy to forget that she’s a grown adult attending college rather than a fourteen-year-old girl.

  • The premise of Podcast: The Ride is the innate humor of "three childless men in their thirties" talking about Theme Parks for hours on end. Jason in particular is targeted for frequent jokes regarding how his height and love of sweets make him seem even more of a grown child.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • George Steele, after his face turn. Fans would instantly sympathize with "the Animal" as he tried to win over Miss Elizabeth, which sparked a legendary feud with Randy Savage. Several vignettes were also filmed featuring Steele, such as at the Detroit Zoo and at an ice cream factory (one which made ice cream bars featuring wafers imprinted with a WWF superstar); still later, he was paired with a hand puppet named "Mine."
  • Alexis Laree in Bad Boys Of Wrestling. She mistook birth control for candy.
  • Find an archive that houses Abyss's career (at least starting with the Abyss gimmick) and marvel as he gradually transitions from a Wrestling Monster in Puerto Rico and NWA to asking if Jacqueline on his lap means he's no longer a virgin in TNA.
  • R-Truth after being betrayed by John Morrison on WWE Raw, rapidly descended into an madness and childlike behavior.
  • The Rock's criticism of John Cena basically boiled down to The Rock seeing Cena as a giant child. Cena had a counter argument, though it didn't endear him anymore.
  • Wrestlers who frequently throw tantrums when things don't go their way, such as Chris Jericho when he's a heel, Alicia Fox or Ken Anderson.

  • Cabin Pressure gives us Arthur Shappey, the relentlessly cheerful and optimistic steward of the aeroplane who is gullible to the point of idiocy, gets ridiculously excited over Christmas, still lives with his mother, genuinely thinks it's possible for something to be bigger than the box it's in, has discovered the secret to true happiness, and thinks everything and everyone is utterly brilliant. And who once killed a man.

  • Willy Wonka in the 2013 musical version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a downplayed version. He has a distinctly adult air of authority and elegance, but at the same time has childlike wonder, enthusiasm, impatience, creativity, and — to a lesser extent — innocence, rather Ambiguous Innocence at that.
  • In Eurydice, the lord of the underworld is childish and petulant, best shown when he rides in on a tricycle in his failed attempt to seduce Eurydice, eventually determining she'd like him more if he were taller.
  • Laura in ''The Glass Menagerie" is a female example. Due to crippling insecurities and social phobias, she cannot function at all in the real world at all, relying instead on her overbearing mother and put-upon younger brother Tom. Her one attempt to find a job (as typist) fails when she has a nervous breakdown and throws up on the instructor, and so she spends her days either wandering around the zoo or hiding in her room among her collection of glass figurines.
  • Batman loves the circus in Holy Musical B@man!:
    Alfred: You can't stay in your pillow fort and cry forever.
  • The Green Role from the Reduced Shakespeare Company's Ragtag Bunch of Misfits. Being the Man Child of the group is his defining characteristic.
  • The clown in Cirque du Soleil's Saltimbanco, Eddie, is quite childlike as he pulls pranks on others and engages an audience member in a pantomimed Wild West shootout. In fact, he might actually be the adult form of the Child seen early on, if a transitional scene is anything to go by.
  • Peter Pan is one in Shrek: The Musical:
    Peter: Maybe if we all close our eyes and clap really hard!
    Pinocchio: Oh, grow up!
    Peter: I won't grow up!
    Pinocchio: You're thirty-four and need a shave!
  • Tobias Ragg from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street can be played several ways, and this is one of them. Bonus points if he is still childish because of insanity and/or mental handicap, both common portrayals. The Movie made him an actual pre-pubescent boy, a method that is much harder to pull off on-stage, mostly because labor laws require underage performers to be doubled.
  • The Complete History Of America Abridged depicts Ronald Reagan as an irresponsible overgrown lap-boy with an undersized puppet body who calls Nancy "Mommy."

    Visual Novels 
    • Sanae Furukawa, the mother of Nagisa. She is around 40 years old, yet she is often quite emotional and childlike. This doesn't make her any less adorable, though.
    • Fuuko Ibuko. As an adult in ~After Story~, she still acts rather childish and is more willing to play with children than interact with adults. Justified since she had been in a coma for a number of years, so she wouldn't have aged much mentally.
    • Nagisa herself is a mild example. Even in her 20s, she's still rather sensitive, playful, and eccentric. Much like her mom, this makes her all the more cute and lovable.
  • Miu Iruma from Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony has a penchant for making sex jokes, calling her classmates virgins while giving juvenile nicknames, and generally saying whatever comes to mind without filtering herself, not that she seems to realise that she is acting in terrible taste. In addition to her childish behaviour, her report card shows that she likes watching TV shows for kids.
  • Kyousuke from Little Busters! is a benevolent, more subtle example: because he's so obsessed with finding fun things to do, tends to be overdramatic and switch between extreme emotions, and doesn't always possess the greatest amounts of common sense (though that's not unusual in this game) he's commonly compared with a child.
  • Minotaur Hotel: Storm tends to be pretty naive about most things, and would end up sounding like a child if it wasn't for the fact that he's a Minotaur with a deep voice at the age of 21. This is because he had a sheltered life, having neglectful parents, and a hostile environment in which no one approached him friendly. This is the reason why P is so hesitant on starting a relationship with him even though he's attracted to him, because he sees it as an Unequal Pairing.
  • Nasuverse:
  • Ciel from Tsukihime has a similar situation to Saber's going on, but in that case it's actually lampshaded in Kagetsu Tohya.
    • Arcueid is a textbook example after she opens up with Shiki.

    Web Animation 
  • Bee and Puppycat: Bee is in her twenties, though can't hold a job, is always messy, and acts immature.
  • Chronicle of the Annoying Quest: Guy and Ellers both. Although Guy is more cynical while Ellers is a Casanova Wannabe, they both have extensive arguments about Star Trek, Doctor Who and just about anything associated with geekiness, never really taking their quest all that seriously. James, unlike his brother Eric, is naive to the point of stupidity. Goliath frequently asks questions any adult should know the answer to, and exasperates his wife constantly with his immaturity (oh, and he's also responsible for crashing the Exodar). Finally, Stephi is a typical Dumb Blonde Valley Girl who thinks Dirim is her boyfriend. Basically a quarter of the series' cast fits this trope in some way.
  • The Doctor (10th incarnation) in Episode 5 of Ducktalez. When Dewey asks for his advice for the time travel situation, he messes around with his Sonic Screwdriver instead. During the stinger, he pretends his TARDIS is an automobile. He also shows up during the bowling montage in Episode 7 and zaps Gizmoduck with his Sonic Screwdriver.
  • DSBT InsaniT: Kayla is a female example. She frequently pouts or use words like 'meanie' when she doesn't like something or someone.
    • Alex is prone to throwing hissy-fits when things aren't going his (often twisted) way.
  • Epithet Erased:
    • Giovanni is a positive example. He's obsessed with being a "villain", often acts less mature than twelve-year-old Molly, sleeps in a race car bed and, per Word of God, retains a keen interest in the kind of things that would be marketed to boys in the '90s such as goo and spikes. On the other hand, his imaginative nature is quite helpful in coming up with creative uses for his epithet, he's In Touch with His Feminine Side as well as his childish side, and for all his faults, he becomes intensely serious when his minions need him to be.
    • Molly's father Martin is a purely negative example. He's shown to be self-absorbed, irresponsible and thoughtlessly selfish, bumbling through the world without any concern for the consequences of his actions. When supervising a field trip for Molly's class, he spends most of it playing a very loud game on Molly's phone (which is made even worse by Molly's misophonia), then considers it to be "punching his parent card" and thus assigns Molly the job of keeping the shop open until late, for the third day running. Molly's constant exhaustion has been considerably worsened because Martin can't be trusted to manage the finances or do the taxes. Supposedly, he was better about it while his very responsible wife was alive, with the two balancing each other out, but following her death, he's more or less reverted to a second childhood.
  • Jimbob in GEOWeasel is an adult man who is interested in such things as Nick Jr., trick-or-treating and waiting for Santa Claus.
  • Gavis Bettel from hololive's Holostars English branch very much qualifies. He debuted at 27 years old, but he's an extremely Picky Eater who mostly lives off of Brisk and junk food and has mentioned eating ice cream in bed, yells and swears a lot, and is prone to throwing comically overdramatic tantrums when things don't go his way. His nature as this trope is especially apparent when his older twin brother, Bettel 2, is on stream with him, with Bettel 2 being the more responsible and levelheaded of the two by far.
  • Captain Sam Sweetmilk from Starship Goldfish, justified as a side-effect of erasing his memory, Vela is this too to a lesser extent, possibly due to being alone on a space station for who knows how long with only an AI for company.
  • Story Time Animated: Sandra's mom behaves childishly for her age to the point where she even kissed and talked to a teddy bear.
  • This video has an interesting and endearing case of one. To summarize, the main character is hired by a billionaire tech genius who's only 16-years-old. Despite his high intelligence and wealth, he's ridiculously naive and unworldly; among other things, he only hired the main character because he found her funny, doesn't know how much any thing costs or how people who aren't wealthy live, and doesn't even know how to do little things like tie his shoes. Worst of all, he's dating a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who doesn't really care about him and takes advantage of his naivete to get money and expensive gifts. Later, the MC learns that he has no friends and that he had to trick her into coming to his birthday party, because his parents forgot about it and his so-called girlfriend decided to go to Disney World instead, while lying that her grandmother was in the hospital. All of this prompts her to take him under her wing and teach him about the world, which allows him to actually mature. He soon dumps his Gold Digger girlfriend and rewards the MC by funding her education and eventually making her his partner in the company.
  • The main boys of Eddsworld are a group of grown men who act like rowdy teenagers.
  • McBusters depicts Mayor McCheese as rather childlike, with his first notable scene having him wolf down a Happy Meal while complaining that he got a girl toy with it. In addition, his response to Mac Tonight complaining about him cutting one is to giggle and say he "made a poot-poot".

  • The Onion: "38-Year-Old Little Boy Posts Picture Of Fast Car He Likes To Facebook".
  • SCP-590 was turned into one by the SCP Foundation, specifically ordered by his brother Dr. Bright, by using his ability to heal several people suffering mental retardation until he had the mind of a toddler. This was supposedly done as an act of "kindness" so he wouldn't realize his predicament.
    • SCP-321 also appears to be this as she's incapable of speaking coherently and is strongly implied to be mentally retarded. This is likely because she was originally stillborn but was revived by her father using several SCP items and that period of brain death damaged her mental faculties.

    Web Videos 
  • Abuela: Laritza is in her twenties, but acts like a child and has no life skills. When she and her younger cousin Michi are home alone, Michi is the one doing the babysitting because Laritza doesn't even know how to put a frozen pizza in the oven.
  • The CollegeHumor Original "Adulthood vs. Childhood" has Adulthood and Childhood facing off in a fighting game, only to be interrupted by a third contender: the MANCHILD.
  • Dad 's behavior and dialogue is very simplistic and toddler-like.
  • Zack in Echo Chamber, though it's partially explained by his Freudian Excuse.
  • Fictosophy: Tom, in "Jedi Coworker," goes to the office wearing Jedi robes.
    Steve: Tom should be ashamed of himself for acting like such a child!
  • Henry VIII as portrayed by BRIAN BLESSED!!!!! in Henry 8.0. For example...
  • In the JesuOtaku/Nostalgia Critic crossover review of Digimon: The Movie, the later repeatedly called the former a "woman child" when they traded insults. The joke being he has no room to talk.
  • Sag from Movie Rehab got mature critical thoughts but he still acts like a kid at heart.
  • Sparadrap in Noob, to the extent of making him more of The Cutie than a female character that was his Distaff Counterpart before her characterization diverged but didn't completely split off. His top priority in a fantasy MMORPG is collecting non-combat pets, his Trademark Favorite Food is a dessert home-made by his grandmother and he tries to make friends with every single player he meets despite the game having a faction system. This is more than enough for both his guildmates and his younger brother to consider they need to keep an eye on him... or in the case of the Manipulative Bastard among his guildmates, pull some of her easiest scams ever. He starts maturing after an enemy player decides that it would be fun to destroy the bag containing his pets in front of him.
  • The Nostalgia Chick's best friend, Nella, is repeatedly referred to (by herself and others) as a "wo-Manchild."
  • Talking Classics star Keith Apicary is a big one. He apparently still lives with his family, has No Social Skills, isn't too smart, a klutz, and spends his days playing and singing about video games.

  • The Tendies Stories from 4chan parodies this trope, consisting of anecdotes that revolve around an autistic man/adolescent who lives with his parents and constantly terrorizes them by demanding praise and food items such as chicken tenders ("tendies"). Part of the meme also emphasizes the character's parents attempting to control his behavior with a childlike reward/punishment system known as "good boy points."

Alternative Title(s): Woman Child, Adult Child


Electric Unicorn Coffee Ad

In a commercial for cereal-flavored coffee, a pair of grown men act like little kids, much to their wive's chagrin.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / Manchild

Media sources: