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Men Are Childish

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"The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys."

Men in general, or a specific man, are called out (often by their wives or lovers, and almost always by a woman) as still behaving like a little boy. The woman in question does not have to be someone who Does Not Like Men, but can see herself as someone who loves and tolerates a man or men despite their supposed immaturity.

Involves an interpretation of some masculine attributes as involving an immature lack of restraint etc.

An example of a gender-related Double Standard, as the reverse occurs less frequently (and/or is difficult to pull off effectively due to the fact that things considered "childish" for men might be considered normal for women).

See also Parenting the Husband and Manchild. Compare Women Are Wiser.


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  • In a commercial for McDonalds a man about to embark on a honeymoon with his new wife gets an important text: the McRib is back!
    Husband: I'm gonna miss it.
    Wife: I married a 14 year old.


  • "Model trains are like breasts: They're intended for small children, but it's dads who play with them."

  • Vorzheva during her Slap-Slap-Kiss relationship with Prince Josua in Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn.
    Vorzheva: Men! You are all just little boys...
  • From Robert Silverberg's Majipoor Chronicles, the fourth story, "Calintane Explains", has the protagonist give a very lengthy explanation to his girlfriend about why he has not been seeing her - namely, that the Pontifex (king of the whole world), to whom he is a close attendant, has proclaimed himself female and made himself the Lady of the Isle.
    Calintane: And so it is, after yesterday's strange events, that we have a Pontifex and a Coronal and a Lady, and they are none of them the ones we had last month, and now you understand, beloved Silimoor, all that has befallen our world.
    Silimoor: You are like small children, with your titles and your royal courts and your bonds of honor. Nevertheless I understand, I think, what you have experienced and how it has unsettled you.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played with in Brooklyn Nine-Nine in the dynamic between Jake Peralta and Amy Santiago. Jake is quite obviously a bit of a Manchild, earning him plenty of eye-rolling from Santiago... except that Santiago is pretty childish herself, except more in a "constantly running for high school valedictorian" sense, and in some ways they're as bad as each other.
  • In the Doctor Who serial "The Time Warrior", Sarah is told by a cynical medieval scullery overseer that "men are like children, fond of noise and roaring".
  • Forever: At the end of the pilot, in a deleted scene, Henry asks Jo as they get into her police car if they can turn on the sirens. She gives him an amused/indulgent/exasperated look and asks Henry how old he is, but she does turn the lights and sirens on. Henry grins like a little boy.
  • House is often seen playing with toys and games when Cuddy's telling him he should be working.
  • Long-running comedy Last of the Summer Wine embodies this trope - the three central characters, and the cast of occasional characters around them, are all men in their sixties and seventies regressing to adolescence, fourteen year old minds in senior bodies. Freed from the need to work, the cast of retirees get into scrapes more appropriate to teenage boys. Compo is the worst, especially in his unquenchable pursuit of battleaxe Norah Batty who, along with the women of the town, treats the men as a childish nuisance.
  • Psych has Shawn, who likes watching Phineas and Ferb, playing video games, and is as hyperactive as an actual child. In one episode, Juliet even describes working with him as "babysitting".
    • Downplayed by Gus. While he has a job and is generally more mature and cautious than Shawn, he too is Not So Above It All. There is a reason why he and Shawn are best friends...
  • This occurs at least twice in Granada's production of Sherlock Holmes starring Jeremy Brett:
    • From the episode "The Man with the Twisted Lip", Mrs Whitney refers to her cocaine-addicted husband:
      Mrs Whitney: I sometimes wonder, if men really truly grow up; it seems they remain little boys forever. Do you wonder about that Mrs Hudson?
      Mrs Hudson: No Mrs Whitney, I don't wonder about it. I know it! And they always need us to kiss them better afterwards! In a manner of speaking of course.
    • The episode based on "The Dying Detective" involved a dinner party where several distinguished gentlemen were trying out the latest fad from one of their clubs, namely running and sliding across a polished wooden floor on a rug.
      Woman 1: Do you think the men will be mortified if we don't cheer them on at their silly game?
      Woman 2: I daresay they will. It's almost a reason for not doing it. But for the sake of harmony, we indulge little boys.
  • This trope is basically the point of Top Gear.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • A similar example to the page quote in Calvin and Hobbes where Calvin asks his dad what it's like being an adult.
    Dad: Well, it's a lot like being a kid...except you're more attached to your toys.

  • In the musical of Pendragon, the following occurs:
    King Arthur: "I command you..."
    Queen Guinevere: "A petulant little boy!"

    Web Comics 
  • In one of the "Hobbes and Bacon" strips from Pants are Overrated, Calvin takes some time out from work to indulge his daughter's vivid imagination.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • German author Erich K√§stner (nowadays mostly known for his children's books like The Parent Trap or Emil Und Die Detektive, although he also did more serious stuff) stated: "Most people throw away their childhood like an old hat. They forget it like an invalid phone number. Only those who grow up and still stay children are humans."
  • Stephen Fry. He once explained that "little girls grow up to be women, while little boys grow up to be big little boys."