Mr. Zelner: [looks horrified]
Ross: I just heard it as you must have heard it and that's not good. Let me start again. I'm a paleontologist, you'll be there with us and the touching refers only to bones... fossils!
It seems that, when comedy is concerned, sexual attraction to children is as good a source of laughs as anything else, especially when the person being persecuted is innocent (of that particular crime).
It usually goes like this: A small child grabs the MacGuffin the main characters are trying to fetch, or is otherwise important to the plot in some way — they might be children of the boss to whom they have to suck up, or even a MacGuffin themselves. As the main characters approach the child, unaware of how to behave and how to act, it seems to onlookers (and to the viewer, if they weren't in on the plot) that the interest in the kid is of a sexual nature.
The kid might scream, or parents/nannies might overlook the conversation and come to the wrong conclusion, but it usually ends with several parents chasing the would-be-creep with peppersprays, purses filled with bricks and TASER guns. If he's a villain, we laugh. If he's an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist, we also laugh. If he's an actual paedophile, the trope doesn't really apply.
Surprisingly, what never happens is any serious involvement of the police (it seems that overzealous parents are more than sure of their own creep-chasing abilities) or some sort of clarification that the character in question is not attracted to children. Guess they'll have to live with being mistaken for paedophiles all their lives.
The perpetrator is almost Always Male because of the Double Standard that men are always after sex while women never are. Conversely, a woman Friend to All Children can do things that would easily get a man lynched, and would just be dismissed as playing around or being nice, due to a woman's supposed lack of perverse desires.
- In this Ameriquest commercial, a father driving his teenage daughter and some of her friends to a concert. The daughter wants to buy some gum, so they pull over to go to a convenience store. The father tries to give the daughter money from inside the car so that she could buy the gum she wants, but the way the daughter bends over to take the money leads some cops to believe that the father was soliciting an underage prostitute. It doesn't help that he tries to explain himself with "I'm her ...daddy."
- In episode 4 of Noragami, when we first meet Kofuku and Daikoku:
Yato: [to Hiyori and Yukine] Be careful. Don't look that guy in the eyes.
Hiyori and Yukine: Huh?
Yato: Doing that can be dangerous. You might never get away. Despite his tough exterior... he has a thing for kids like you![Cut to Hiyori and Yukine's horrified expressions, and Daikoku's pissed off expression.]
Daikoku: DON'T SAY IT LIKE THAT! YOU MAKE ME SOUND SIIIIICK!
[Daikoku is so pissed, he literally kicks Yato into the sky.]
- Just to clarify, Daikoku loves kids, he does not love them.
- In one episode of Strawberry Marshmallow, a door-to-door cosmetics salesmen is our mistaken-for-LKL victim for the day, due to a combination of Miu's false accusations, an innocent attempt to comfort Matsuri, Matsuri's failure to explain said attempt as such, and his eerie tendency to hit every house in a group of girls who hang out together. He gets a shiner (and incentive to quit) for his troubles.
- While the anime is ambiguous about this (except for the unaired last episode that was actively trying to be kept from airing) The doctor in the Excel Saga manga is most definetly not into girls, despite hanging around playgrounds and watching young girls. Having been given a sour opinion of adult women by his overly sexual mother, he came to appreciate the innocence of his young cousin, and when his cousin grew up he tried to recapture the feeling he had.
- In Ice Revolution, tomboy Masaki wants to become more ladylike in order to become a better figure skater and to gain the attention of her Love Interest. She completely uses the wrong word choice when asking her much older coach for help in this regard ("Please... make me a woman!") with predictable results.
- In Kodomo no Jikan, Rin nearly gets Aoki-sensei arrested at one point, complete with "It's not what it looks like! I'm her teacher!" "That's WORSE!" exchange.
- In Recorder and Randsell, eleven-year-old Atsushi acts like any kid his age would (if a bit clueless), but he also looks like a grown man. The poor kid gets arrested several times a week for doing things like playing tag. Thankfully, the local cops are a reasonable bunch.
- Yuki from Wandering Son gets mistaken for this by her boyfriend when he walks in on her being a bit too touchy with Takatsuki, who at the time was a fifth grader.
- In Maison Ikkoku Kyoko's father dons an overcoat, dark glasses, and mask to spy on Godai at his place of work. Unfortunately, said place of work is a day care center, and a cop happens to be passing by...
- Masumi Sera from Detective Conan. After she says that she wants to go to Ran's house to see Conan (because she has been investigating him), Sonoko calls her a paedophile.
- Doranbalt of Fairy Tail. Erza is convinced that he's a paedophile, as seen when he pops out during her Imagine Spot of Jellal leaving her for being turned into a little kid. Probably the rest of Fairy Tail thinks the same after he chose Wendy out of all the mages as a partner for the S-Class trials despite there being no relation between them both.
- In the one-shot manga Forever Honey one of the neighbors is implied to think that Ozuka, a single Overprotective Dad who's a freelance photographer, takes illicit pictures of his daughter.
- When Seo first appears in Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun, she mistakes Gentle Giant Nozaki as a paedophile due to the latter's recent closeness with the tiny Sakura.
- In Log Horizon Shiroe took his friends and guild members, Akatsuki and Minori, to a cake-eating contest. Despite this not being a date, he was suspected of two-timing and, due to both apparently being middle schoolers, being a paedophile. One of his cakes even had "Die lolicon" iced on top.
- In Black Bullet, this happens to Rentaro a lot, because he works and lives with several of the Cursed Children and treats them like little sisters, but they often fall in love with him.
- Not played for laughs in Gunslinger Girl. It's made clear a lot of people at the Social Welfare Agency think the bond between the girls and their adult fratello is pedophilic. While most of the girls have crushes on their handlers it's almost always unrequited, with the exception being Petra who is a few years older than the other girls.
- In Chapter 41 of The World is Still Beautiful, Bardouin jokingly flirts with his colleague Violetta's younger sister and is poking her cheeks when Nike, Neil and Violetta walk in on him - it looks suggestive enough for Violetta to go berserk and make him repeat endlessly "lolicons are criminals".
- Much to his dismay, Hiiro Okamura from Konjiki No Wordmaster is mistaken for a paedophile by the level-up system due to his uncanny ability to unintentionally charm young girls. It even grants him the Title "Little Girl Slayer".
- Played for drama in ERASED, where this misunderstanding is used as evidence to convict Yuuki, a young man known for hanging around kids, of serially kidnapping and murdering three children. The real killer deliberately used Yuuki's reputation to pin the crimes on him, even going so far as to plant homosexual-related books in his room to explain the one male victim.
- In Gate, Kouji Sugawara starts teaching the young girl Sherry Thierry Japanese, but she gets a Precocious Crush on him and asks him to marry her. Plus, she innocently makes comments about him that sound inappropriate like, "we have a lot of fun during our private lessons". Everybody glares at Sugawara while he desperately explains it's not what they think.
- In WORKING!!, Souta, who professes to love small, cute things is often mistaken by people not familiar with him for being a potential pedophile. Even people who ARE familiar with him have their suspicions, such as Jun Satou, who in one episode states that seeing Souta taking care of a lost child made him uneasy.
- Played with in Tokusatsu Gagaga. Nakamura helps out a little girl whose mother doesn't want her playing with toys from a Tokusatsu show, and the child hugs her out of gratitude. When the girl leaves, Nakamura looks up to see people giving her funny looks, which she assumes is because she seemed a little too happy about being hugged by a small child. In reality, everyone is staring at Nakamura because the girl put a Magical Girl Transformation Trinket in her hair while she wasn't looking.
- In the first episode of Hanamaru Kindergarten, Tsuchida is on his way to his first day as a kindergarten teacher when he sees a young child all by herself. He goes over to her and says "Are you lost, miss?", and she instantly assumes he's hitting on her. When Tsuchida arrives at school, it turns out the girl (named Anzu) is one of his students, and she remarks on his "hitting on" her...with several of the childrens' mothers within earshot. Thankfully the confusion is quickly cleared up, but the Anzu's Precocious Crush on Tsuchida is still part of the series' central premise.
- In the second half of Episode 7 of Laughing Salesman NEW, Moguro is in the park and he performs some magic tricks for the kids when one of the kids' ball rolls over toward him. Despite there being an adult watching Moguro performing his magic tricks with the kids, one of the mothers was actually going to call the police on Moguro for being near their kids. And Moguro's constant creepy smiling doesn't exactly make him look innocent.
- In The Irregular at Magic High School, Masaki complains about his little sister's personality and George comments that she's "fine". He meant "fine"-in-the-sense-that-she's-not-that-annoying, but Masaki interprets it as referring to her body. Even when George says that he's not a paedophile, Masaki thinks he's implying that he's not attracted to her yet- that he'll pursue her once she's slightly older.
- In The Royal Tutor, it's Played for Laughs when Beatrix hears from the three-year-old princess Adele that Heine (an adult who is allegedly old enough to be Adele's father) is going to marry her, not realizing that Heine only "propose" to Adele in a make-believe game and "broke off" the engagement when it was finished. It also does not help that Adele has a Precocious Crush on Heine and actually wants to marry Heine. To his credit, Heine recognizes this and if Adele has the same feelings when she is older, he will properly discuss it with her.
- In Mushoku Tensei Rudeus spots a young homeless girl being lured to the house of a middle-aged man with the promise of food. Assuming the man is a pedophile Rudeus knocks him unconscious. A later interlude reveals the man was quite honest in offering food; he'd eaten at a restaurant and knew his wife would be mad if he didn't eat her homecooking, so he thought he would offer it to the clearly destitute girl.
- Deconstructed in Blend-S. This is the reason why tiny Mafuyu refuses to date—her first date was arrested half a day into it because of this trope.
- In Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA, Shirou Emiya is often accused by his mother Irisviel and maids of planning to do something inappropriate with Illya, Chloe, and Miyu. It doesn't help that all three girls have a crush on him, and Chloe often tries to do something inappropriate with him. Irisviel scares the crap out of him by threatening to castrate him if she catches him trying to do something with them.
- In Hinamatsuri Episode 5, several of of Hitomi's classmates start to believe that she's in a sexual relationship with their teacher after seeing the two of them entering a bar together. In reality, Hitomi is actually a bartender at the establishment in question, while the teacher is a frequent customer. It doesn't help that Hitomi, afraid of anyone finding out that she's working at a bar despite being underage, acts extremely suspicious whenever the other kids ask her what she was doing there.
- In Act-age, due to Sumiji's fascination with Kei and his rather questionable methods for approaching her at first, Kei and her siblings casually come to the conclusion that this might be his motivation. It's all Played for Laughs, but she does give him a good punch when he casually abducts her in his van.
- In I Was A Sword When I Reincarnated, it's revealed that this is part of why Guild Master Klimt is so insistent on Fran taking a test to prove she's worthy of being a D-rank adventurer, despite her having already performed several deeds that prove her strength. Turns out, some people get bitter if someone goes from the absolute lowest rank (G) to mid-rank within only a few weeks, especially if that person is a 12-year-old. The only real explanation most can think of is her having connections, but she's a 12-year-old orphaned ex-slave from a race that is often looked down on and enslaved by others, so it's plain to see she doesn't have any. As such, some of those who weren't there to see what she did assume she must have some sort of... arrangement with Klimt.
- Ukai Midori from UzaMaid: Our Maid Is Way Too Annoying! puts herself in these situations often and is prone to digging herself deeper when it happens. Ironically, this is usually due to her efforts in trying to gain the affections of the actual pedophile, Tsubame Kamoi, since she tends to be very closely inspecting little girls to see what Tsubame likes about them. In Midori's introduction, she nearly gets arrested twice when two children mistake her efforts to ask them about Tsubame for predatory behavior. When she and Misha (the current object of Tsubame's affections) form an alliance to get the older woman to become her new maid, Midori starts to change into a maid outfit in front of Misha in an alleyway. Misha frantically stops her and tells her to wait to change, but not before the same two cops catch them. Midori tries to tell them that it's not what it looks like... before her loosened top falls and exposes her breasts, leading to her arrest.
- In the first manga of RWBY. there's a joke about Glynda being suspicious about Ozpin's interest in 15-year old Ruby. Ozpin is interested in Ruby's abilities in purely a platonic manner.
- The Helpful Fox Senko-san:
- When Nakano sees Senko for the first time, cooking food and welcoming him home after a long day at work, Nakano comes to the logical conclusion that if someone sees a young child without her parents in his apartment in the dead of night and wearing what appears to be an ancient kimono, fox ears and tail, he would be arrested for suspicion of kidnapping and child molestation, and hoo boy would the news have a field day with that. He kicks her out until Senko phases through his door and proves she's not exactly a young child nor human.
- Nakano's neighbour Kouenji walks in on him trying to get to touch Senko's ears and almost calls the police on him before Senko manages to buy her silence with food.
- In Gakuen Babysitters, Takuma and Kazuma's father Kousuke is a popular actor, so when he visits the daycare in his debut, he is wearing a mask and sunglasses to not get mobbed by fans. However because of this disguise, Ryuuichi and Kamitani mistake him for a pedophile about to kidnap Takuma.
- This is Nozomu's main problem regarding his relationship with Rino in My Girlfriend Without Wasabi, as she resembles (and acts like) a young child despite being two years older than him. The chapter after they start dating has him reminding that reader that she's 21 no less than three times on the first page.
- Micheal MacIntyre tells a story as part of his act how when asked by the Alpha Mum at a playgroup he'd brought his son to 'which one is yours?' he jokingly answered 'None of them' and the resultant uproar that caused.
- Bill Burr complained about this trope because of the massive amount of To Catch a Predator type shows that made everyone paranoid of sex offenders, since that meant he could no longer try to entertain kids in public, and instead lives in fear of one getting too close and accidentally triggering this trope.
- Used in Fables in a manner similar to the Family Guy examples below. The Fables invade the apartment building of a reporter who was close to uncovering the secret of Fabletown and, after making the entire building unconscious thanks to Sleeping Beauty, take pictures of him with Pinocchio (who is actually much older than he looks) in compromising positions as insurance in order to prevent him from going forward with what he knows about them.
- When The Punisher is found hiding in the playhouse of Sheriff Bendix's daughter during Suicide Run event, he is mistaken for a creep and gets roughed up.
- In Scarlet Spider, Annabelle briefly thinks this of Kaine when she finds him keeping the teenage Aracely in his hotel room.
- One instance where the police does become involved is in the French juvenile science-fiction series Une épatante aventure de Jules by Émile Bravo. Here the young teenage protagonist is taken on a trip at light speed to Alpha Centauri and on his return to Earth, due to the effects of relativity, his family and classmates have all aged eight years while he only aged eight weeks. In the third album, Bastien, his best friend from school, who in those eight year became an adult, is waiting for Jules at the school gate, when suddenly several plainclothes policemen pounce on him an arrest him on the suspicion of being a pedophile. Jules trying to explain things only makes the police more suspicious, and in the end one of the scientists who conducted the expedition to Alpha Centauri has to be brought in to get Bastien released.
- Green Arrow gets accused of this sometimes:
- When discussing Green Arrow's relationship with the teenaged Mia, Black Canary says she thinks they're in a sexual relationship. Roy says Ollie is fine with young women but not that young, however Dinah doesn't buy it.
- Hal Jordan once had to remind himself he "isn't Ollie" to get himself to stop thinking weird thoughts about the seventeen-year-old Supergirl.
- In Blacksad, chief of police Karup is leading the church choir for the kids, is married to a young enough to be his daughter ( and is, not that he is aware or even sleeps with her) and is showed to be really friendly with kids but not anything that is inappropriate. Naturally words spread that he is a pedophile and related to the kidnapping of his maid's daughter. While he is an asshole nothing proves that he is a pedophile.
- In Gotham Knights #42, a social worker who suspects Bruce Wayne of abusing his wards pays a visit to Wayne Manor, seeking to talk to Bruce about the mysterious death of Jason Todd. When he arrives, he finds Cassandra Cain clad only in a bathrobe, and calls Bruce a "sicko" after having the door slammed in his face.
- In one issue of Nightwing the vigilante Nite-wing finds a black man with two white children, he immediately assumes he's a pedophile and beats him within an inch of his life, refusing to listen to the children's pleas that he is their uncle, it turns the man was adopted into a white family and those were his foster sister's children he was looking after.
- Captain Marvel dated Stargirl for a while. Stargirl knew that he was the same age as her, but most of the Justice Society did not. The two broke up when other members learned about their relationship and got angry over a (seemingly) adult man dating someone in their early teens. Captain Marvel couldn't reveal his true age, so he left Stargirl.
- In an issue of Stray Bullets, Beth, Orson, Nina and Kretchmeyer end up hiding out at a small town motel after stealing money and drugs from a powerful gangster named Harry. Unbeknownst to Beth or Orson, Kretchmeyer also kidnapped Harry's son Joey for use as a bargaining chip in case he ever needed to make a deal for his own survival. When the motel manager accidentally discovers Joey in the trunk of Kretchmeyer's car, he assumes that the boy is being trafficked for sexual abuse and angrily attacks the heroes with a baseball bat.
- The Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS fanfic A Short Date has this as the logical conclusion of the Erio/Caro pairing given their massive size difference in the the later installments of the canon series. A kiss during a date at the amusement park results in the following scene:
Security Guard: Hey, you! I saw that! I'm taking you in.
Erio: Huh? For what?
Security Guard: Don't give me that! You, an adult, were doing inappropriate things with this minor!
Caro: So... Do you want to explain or should I?
- Oblivion: In a thoroughly non-comedic example, Braig is publicly accused of molesting his girlfriend's young son, and there is rumored to be some evidence against him even though he is completely innocent.
- In Takamachi Nanoha Of 2814, Superman works side-by-side with and becomes a mentor to Nanoha, who become Earth's Green Lantern as well as a Magical Girl. Rumors soon spread that their relationship is less than appropriate. Lex Luthor naturally has a field day with this.
- In Hogyoku ex Machina, Hollow Ichigo constantly expresses his attraction to Neliel. Everybody in Soul Society is horrified, until they find out about Neliel's adult form.
- In Empath: The Luckiest Smurf, Papa Smurf is believed to be this by Empath, or at least that's what is implied by what happens during his early visits to the Smurf Village.
- Six Brides For Two Sisters combines this with Relative Error when Princess Cadence and Shining Armor recall how they first met: she saw him walking away with the filly she was foalsitting with promises of fun and candy, but since Twilight and Shining don't have any family resemblance (despite being siblings), she jumped to conclusions. Violently.
- Earlier on, Rainbow Dash wakes up to find Twilight, Applejack and Pinkie Pie all laying on top of her, and assumes they all got drunk and slept together. When she looks around and sees Sweetie Belle (their friend Rarity's little sister) looking at her, she assumes the younger filly was also involved and freaks out, only calming down once it's made clear that nobody slept with anybody; Twilight had been teleporting around to all their homes to pick them up, and the last teleport had taken all six of them (including Spike and an unconscious Fluttershy) from Rainbow Dash's home to Rarity's shop.
- Happens to Dave in the Kick-Ass fanfiction Precocious Crush. Katie violently breaks up with him when her jealousy and suspicions about Mindy lead her to wrongly conclude that David and Mindy are in a physical relationship. The rumors begin spreading around school, and David's locker has "PEDO" spray-painted over it. To make things more complicated, Mindy really does have feelings for Dave.
- In Supernatural: The Animation Abridged, Dean takes a bullied kid to an abandoned warehouse and then dresses him up to teach him martial arts. Shockingly enough, the kid's vampire father concludes that Dean is a predator (Dean corrects it to hunter before he realizes what he's talking about) and attempts to kill him.
- In Pony POV Series, Diamond Tiara runs away from home and is briefly given shelter by Fancy Pants. When he asks why she ran away, she lies and claims that she was scared that her father was going to rape her because she resembles her mother, causing him to get pissed and say he'll call the cops on him. Fortunately, when Fancy Pants later meets her father Filthy Rich, Fancy says he later figured out she was lying before he did anything hasty.
- In the MLP fanfic Hecate's Orphanage, Thesis is helping a little filly out with a carnival game, when the filly's mother sees them and thinks that Thesis is trying to hurt her daughter.
- Also in an MLP fanfic, Shimmering Sunsets, when Shimmerverse!Fortune tries to kidnap Sunsetverse!Rainbow Dash
Now, Rainbow Dash, perhaps youd be willing to at least hear me out, maybe take a little walk with me.
"...do you know how creepy that sounded with you talking to a minor right?" Rainbow pointed out.
Yeah that was creepy, another feminine voice called out. Like, super creepy.
Shut up, Pepper! Fortune growled. I didnt mean it in that way. Who the buck would think I meant it that way. Do I look like a molester...If any of you bastards say yes Ill cut you up into pieces so small, you could fit several on the head of a needle!
...Would you cut us up on a maybe?
- Fates Collide: Emerald Sustrai gives Mercury Black a Death Glare when Jack the Ripper, a little girl in a Stripperific outfit, walks up and gives him a hug.
- A Signal of Hope shows a sleazy reporter insinuating Bruce Wayne only took Jason in because Dick Grayson's depart meant the billionaire didn't have a boytoy anymore. Jason and Bruce don't take it well, especially since Jason actually believed that when fresh adopted off the streets - he outright came to Bruce's bedroom and started to strip naked before being stopped by his horrified guardian.
- Dead Man Walking: The undercover Regulus Black actually worries about the Order of the Phoenix seeing more than Intergenerational Friendship in his regular meetings with Harry. He's unfortunately right, with the first thing Hermione say when she learns of his existence is accusing him of grooming Harry. The aforementioned teenage boy is NOT okay with the slander.
- In The Somewhat Cracked Mind Of Uchiha Itachi, the Hidden Leaf comes to the conclusion that Orochimaru is a pedophile for his interest in Sasuke's body. Orochimaru himself had absolutely no idea he was coming off this way and was horrified when he was informed of it.
- In Lost Boy, when Stoick tells Gobber that he "met someone" the previous night, Gobber assumes that he means a woman, happy that Stoick had finally moved on from Valka's death. Then Stoick clarifies that it was a young boy, this gets a shocked reaction from Gobber, forcing Stoick to be more specific with the situation. This trope has become a sort of morose Running Gag with everyone falling under the assumption that Stoick is keeping Hiccup as a bed-slave when he returns to Berk.
- White Sheep (RWBY): After Qrow gropes Sapphire (he thought she was a mindless Grimm and was curious how her programming would react), Sapphire's mother Salem calls him a child molester. Tyrian points out that Sapphire is twenty-five, not all that much younger than Qrow, and certainly not a child. Salem insists that Sapphire is her child, Qrow molested her, and that makes him a child molester.
- In Thinking In Little Green Boxes, Hagrid shows up at the doorstep of the X-Mansion to bring Harry to Hogwarts. As he's a strange man asking to see a little boy who has no idea who he is, he ends up going straight to jail.
- A Running Gag in Scarlet Lady: between his interest in the clearly-underage Scarlet Lady and the fact that he's Younger Than He Looks, Theo is often asked what his age is by others.
- Moratorium Harry takes one look at all of Professor Quirrel's quirks (fake stutter, potential garlic fetish, acting weird around her) and comes to the conclusion that he's a sex offender with designs on her.
- With Pearl and Ruby Glowing references the fandom controversy over Entrapta/Hordak with this. Entrapta is definitely an adult, but is small and acts somewhat childlike due to her autism, so she keeps getting either mistaken for a child or assumed to be too stupid/immature to consent. with social consequences for both her and Hordak.
- In Adam, the titular character, a man with Asperger Syndrome, is confronted by police when he's waiting outside the school for Beth, the teacher and his Love Interest, to get out. Played for Drama, as he froze up and would have been arrested if Beth hadn't showed up to defend him.
- The Professional: Professional badass Jean Reno is kicked out of his hotel after a thirteen-year-old Natalie Portman tells the clerk that the two of them are lovers.
- Little Man: Thief with dwarfism is mistaken for a baby, and his partner in crime, for a kid-loving creep.
- Things Are Tough All Over - Cheech is in a laundromat sans pants because his only pair is in the drier, and freezing, so he grasps at his crotch and pants. A little girl notices him and long story short, he ends up needing to hide in a currently running laundromat.
- Jingle All the Way - Arnold's trying to get This Year's Toy for his son, and tries to win one in a raffle which used little balls with numbers as tickets. But after some struggle to get one with the other customers, the raffle-ball gets out of their hands and gets lost in a ball-pool. When he jumps in to get it back, parents attack him, thinking he's after the kids...
- School of Rock: After it is revealed to the class' families that Dewey is not actually a licensed substitute teacher, he attempts to redeem himself by talking about how much the class means to him, culminating in him saying "I have been touched by your kids, and I'm pretty sure I've touched them!" Needless to say, it goes downhill from there.
- Blades of Glory - The evil skaters tie up one of the heroes in a restroom stall. His attempt to get the next person to enter, a young child, to free him, only ends in the kid running away screaming, "Stranger Danger! STRANGER DANGER!"
- In Horrible Bosses the reason Dale is forced to work for Julia is that no one else will hire him: he is a registered sex offender and thus assumed to be a pedophile. The reality is that one evening, while drunk, he staggered out of a bar into an alleyway and urinated against the wall. It just happened that the bar was across the alley from a playground, and he was seen by a cop. It was night, no children were at the playground, his back was to the playground, and absolutely no one was hurt, but he was still arrested for indecent exposure and forced to register as a sex offender.
- Kid Detective: the protagonist's teenage sleuthing would lead him to investigate people's houses and force him to hide in the closet when they returned home. When he tried to pull the same shtick as an adult he accidentally wound up in the closet of a 10-year-old girl, which led to him getting arrested and the papers reporting that he was caught masturbating in a little girls closet.
- Rat Race: Rowan Atkinson's character is showing a baby the key to a 2 million dollar prize when he accidentally drops it into the baby's diapers... which leads to him getting thrown off a moving train.
- In The Wizard, Haley gets herself and her friends away from Putnam by accusing him of being a pedophile. Loudly. In a crowded public area.
- In Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, Eric and Henry The Mutant (don't ask) end up making friends. Henry learns to quit being so much of a boring adult, and let his inner child out through playing with Eric. Eric's mother comes home and assumes the worst, even though she told Eric to make friends — she clearly only meant ones his own age.
- Overzealous mass-hysteria regarding child abuse was criticized in the film The Man Without A Face, complete with a Tear Jerker example of Entendre Failure. This is exclusive to the film version. The book the film was based on made it clear that Justin didn't do anything but try to comfort a hysterical Christopher, who had an involuntary physical response to their closeness because of his emotional state. No one actually accuses Justin of anything; he leaves of his own accord and isolates himself again, in part to avoid invoking this trope.
- In Daddy Day Care the protagonists are initially assumed to be child molesters just because they're men running a day care.
- Combined with homophobia in Say Uncle. It starts with one mother assuming he's a child molester just because he's gay and later the trope is played the usual way with other parents.
- M: Played for drama in this case; a man is lynched by a mob because there's a molester/serial killer who targets kids on the loose and he was known to play with the kids in the neighborhood.
- In Little Giants when the kids spot the bad guys spying on them they call the cops, telling them the two men are watching them for a different reason.
- Mystery Team makes two such jokes; first when a character implies that his father molests him; and second when another character states that his neighbor was arrested, "something about pictures of kids on his computer..."
- This is apparently the reason that Alan from The Hangover is not allowed within 200 feet of elementary schools, parks, and Chuck E. Cheese's, though it's implied that this punishment was because he likes to pick fights with children, not molest them. It's also implied that he was mistakenly labeled a molester after some worried parents saw him play with their kids in the park.
- In God Bless America, Roxy mistakes Frank for a pedophile when she first sees him spying on Chloe.
Roxy: Hey creepy. Isn't the whole schoolgirl thing a little played out?
- Happens to Trent in Lawn Dogs. Unlike most examples, this is very much not Played for Laughs.
- In "The Brothers Solomon" the brothers John and Dean decide that the only way to get their dad out of his coma is to provide him with a grandchild, they decide to prepare for this by playing with kids, a mother comes by and takes her girl away from them thinking them to be child molesters, they try to explain that they just wanted to play with her and get her some ice cream, the next day they attend a hearing for the misunderstanding and because they are so innocent from living in isolation they have no idea why they are there.
- In Kickin' It Old School, Justin is adjusting to life in 2006 after waking up from a coma after 20 years. When he goes to the mall to buy some toys, he meets a young boy and asks what kind of toys and games he likes. He is trying to befriend the boy because he still has the mindset of a child. A security guard is watching and mistakes him for a pedophile; it doesn't help when he says lines like "You'll go in my foxhole and I'll go in your foxhole" (he was talking about playing army), and "I'll pull out my nightstick" (he was talking about playing cops and robbers). After he invites the boy over for a sleepover the guard then promptly tackles him.
- Happens to the protagonist in Truely Human. It doesn't end well.
- In Kick-Ass 2, everybody in school mistakenly believes Dave and Mindy have been seeing each other and are disgusted by him because she is only in 9th grade.
- Played for Drama in Leave No Trace. Will is often faced with suspicion because he prefers living a wild lifestyle away from civilisation with his daugther Tom, due to his war-traumas leaving largely him unable to function in normal society. To outsiders, he appears like a scruffy, homeless-looking man, who doesn't speak much and always seems to be on-edge, who travels around with and lives in the woods with a teenaged girl. Tom often have to defuse misunderstandings by explaining that they are merely father and daugther and that nothing weird or unseemly is going on between them.
- From Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear:
Frank: I'm single again! I love being single! I haven't had this much sex since I was a Boy Scout leader!
(everyone in the dining hall gasps)
Frank: I mean at the time I was dating a lot.
- In The Out of Towners, George Kellerman takes a lost little boy behind some bushes to search his pockets for money since he and his wife are stranded in New York with four cents between them and have had to sleep in Central Park. A woman nearby immediately calls for police, shouting "Pervert in the park!" George and his wife manage to outrun the mounted officer who responds.
- In Miracle in Cell No. 7, a mentally handicapped man sees a little girl slip and die when she hits her head. He tries to resuscitate her, but he gets arrested after the people who stumble upon the scene think he abducted, raped, and killed her. He is unable to defend himself thanks to his handicap. He gets brutalized by his fellow prisoners after they learn of the charges, thinking he is the lowest scum. After getting to know him, the inmates and guards realize it was just a misunderstanding and try to help him. Unfortunately, his name is only cleared several years after his execution.
- Dirty Grandpa has a scene where Jason, after a drug-crazed stupor, waking up naked on a beach with only a stuffed bee doll covering his penis. A little boy runs up to him asking for the bee, and his father sees the two from afar (with a garbage can obscuring Jason's groin area), leading to this reaction.
Boy: He let me stroke it!
- Nothing: Andrew, who suffers from extreme agoraphobia, is visited by a girl scout, but gets so panicked that he grabs her arm and tells her to leave. He later gets a knock on the door from the girl's mother, who mistakenly believes that he forcibly kissed her. However this is because she was trying extremely aggressively to sell him cookies, and after he made her leave, she made a deliberate false allegation against him that he molested her, as revenge for not buying her cookies.
- In Summer Camp Nightmare, Mr. Warren, the Dean Bitterman camp director of Camp North Pines, is accused of being this when a young camper reports to the counselor-in-traning Franklin Reilly that he was molested by Mr. Warren while on a butterfly hunt. Although this likely is a case of a fabrication set up by Franklin himself with the children he is in charge with to find an excuse to set up the takeover of the camp by himself and the other teenagers that happened on Camper-Counselor Turnabout Day, when the camp counselors and campers switched roles.
- Big: After Josh discovers that he's become big (an adult) like he'd wished, he tries going back to the carnival, but discovers everything's gone, including the wishing machine that made it possible. So when he heads home, his mother is initially terrified when a strange man is in her house and gives him her purse and tells him to take what he wants and go, until he mentions her son, whereupon she attacks him and sends him out of the house.
- In a movie called Faintheart, comic book shop owner named Julian, a man in his early thirties, has been chatting about Star Trek with someone online named Kim. When Julian asks Kim tom meet in person, he promises Kim a "night to remember." When they meet, Kim is a ten year old boy who asks for "a night to remember," and Julian responds the he won't forget it. When the boy's mom rushes to her son, Julian just awkwardly waves while a cop tackles him to the ground. Later, when his friend, who just got out a failed attempt of winning back his ex-wife is advised to tell Julian to "play with grown ups next time." It works out for the best since she is a hughe Trekkie like he is, and they go out.
- Doctor Sleep: Discussed. When Abra tracks down Dan, he points out that people might get the wrong idea about a teenage girl meeting a stranger in a park. She tells him that if anyone asks, she'll say he's her uncle. Later, after Abra tries to tell her father about everything that's happened, he just thinks that "Uncle Dan" groomed and molested her. She has to psychically force the information into his mind to convince him.
- Played with in A Brother's Price: When Jerin Whistler is a guest at the palace, Princess Odelia takes him to play with her younger sisters, the youngest of whom are toddlers, while the eldest are primary school age. She leaves him alone with them, and no one even thinks that this could be, in any way, inappropriate. However, when one of the toddlers later tells Princess Ren that "Jerin can do magic", she is a bit worried for a moment. As she seduced Jerin earlier, and can think of only one magic-like thing he can do ... she hopes he didn't do "that" in front of the children. Turns out Jerin can do completely innocent magic tricks of the "make a coin appear out of thin air" one, and such.
- Sherwood Anderson's short story Hands plays this trope for drama.
- The novel A Map of the World centers around a school nurse and the dramatic downward spiral her life takes after she's accused of child molestation by a parent with a personal vendetta.
- Once Lori has found evidence someone was in the woods in Aunt Dimity: Vampire Hunter, she and her neighbours operate from the belief that a voyeur was watching the boys, possibly with pedophilic intent. Emma and Kit warn their staff at the riding school to increase their vigilance when their students use trails in the area. As it turns out, the person who wasn't even male wasn't watching the twins at all, but merely happened to be seen by them.
- Dayton Nickles, a friend of both Lee George and Christine Taylor in Michael Dorris' A Yellow Raft in Blue Water, was accused of being one in Christine's story when he took a teaching job outside the reservation. This situation was played for drama, as it was one of the things he didn't want anybody else to know.
- The Curse of Chalion: Cazaril's whip scars from his time as a galley slave cause this to happen to him, as whipping is the standard punishment for pedophiles in Chalion.
- In Doctor Sleep, Dan Torrance goes through great lenghts to avert this trope when he meets up with Abra. Still, Abra's father is quite suspicious of him when they first meet.
- In Woken Furies, Takeshi Kovacs gets mistaken for a pedophile due to hanging around Isa, a fifteen-year-old Playful Hacker who is working for him and who happens to dress in a very Stripperiffic style for her age.
- In Star Wars: Aftermath, Sinjir reveals that he's gay while trying to talk to Jas about Temmin (the young boy travelling with their group). When he mentions Temmin's name (while trying to explain that the boy seems to be hiding something), Jas cuts him off mid-sentence and says "He's clearly too young for you."
- In The Fugitive, the Narrator invites a little girl to his house to confide in her and gives her five hundred francs for her trouble; her parents call the police.
- Psych: Sean and Gus scour a playground looking for a babysitter for the captain's newborn child and are mistaken for creeps.
- Friends loved this one:
- Joey's acting during a toy commercial looks like that of a sexual predator, as he's holding his crotch to control the pain from his hernia. The line "Hey Timmy, I've got a surprise for you..." really didn't help.
- Ross' attempt to take Rachel's boss' son in a tour of the museum, alone, to get her back her job, is mistaken as a disturbing proposal due to the misuse of the word "bones". See above quote.
- Ross, after hearing the pizza delivery girl complaining that her new haircut makes her look like an 8-year-old boy, tries to flirt with her with the line "I happen to like 8-year-old boys."
- Ross tries to buy a sofa which says, "Kids welcome," but at the same (seductively), "Come here to me," - prompting Rachel to ask in horror, "You say that to kids!?"
- Ross begins dating one of his former students (she is twenty and still attends the university while they are dating). Later, Ross has to meet the girl's father (who disapproves of the relationship because of the age disparity), and arranges for the group to be present so they can casually talk him up, leading to the following exchange:
Monica: You know, it is so strange seeing Ross here this time of day, 'cause usually, well, he's at the children's hospital.
Phoebe: Yeah... not looking for dates.
- In the Heat of the Night: The 1990 episode "Perversions of Justice," where a teacher is accused of sexually molesting a student, and when several incidents in the man's past are brought to public attention before they can be explained let alone investigated, things quickly spiral out of control — parents and the local newspaper editor on a witch hunt, the town drunk shooting at the man's house in the middle of the night — and the man is branded as a pedophile. Falsely, as it turns out: 1. A claim the man was guilty of indecent exposure was indeed substantiated, except it was while he was in college and committed the act during a night of stupid, drunken behavior (not unlike the other officers and main protagonist Chief Gillespie during their younger, wilder days); 2. His leaving his previous job under unexplained circumstances came after he suffered a nervous breakdown in class, shortly after the deaths of his parents, and he took a leave of absence that he never returned from; 3. The boy who made the accusations, upon being confronted by Gillespie that they were able to prove nothing happened, admits he made the charges up. Even with the facts squarely exonerating the teacher, the principal refuses to reinstate the teacher and in fact is willing to throw him to the wolves of a school board under pressure to fire him, and that, along with the newspaper editor still publishing stories branding him a pedophile ... the teacher takes his own life. The Aesop, then, is that anyone making an accusation this serious better have their facts straight and it better be true, because police will take these accusations seriously. And if an accusation is proven false or otherwise never proven, there can be negative consequences that could destroy beyond repair a man's reputation, his career and his personal life.
- Desperate Housewives:
- Lynette hires a guy from her office to "kidnap" her kids in order to show her husband that they don't understand stranger danger. The poor guy ends up getting tased by Mrs. McCluskey.
- Played for drama: Lynette goes to a new neighbor's house to thank him for saving her life, but he is not at home so she snoops around. In the basement she finds several pictures of young boys in bathing suits and comes to the conclusion that he is a child molester. She first tries to tell the police but because there is nothing illegal they cannot do anything about it. She then tells all the neighbors and they have the typical mob reaction attacking him. His terminally ill sister who he lives with and is taking care of then informs her that he teaches swimming and they are boys that have done the best and he has the pictures because he was proud of them. Then she dies from the stress. When a remorseful Lynette tries to apologize to the man, he tells her that he actually is a pedophile but he kept his urges in check for his sister's sake. Before moving away he mentions that now he has no reason to hold back anymore, and it's all because of Lynette. Whether or not he really is a pedophile or just said that to punish her is never confirmed.
- The Office (US): Michael Scott's online dating username in the US version is "Little Kid Lover" — the previous name of this trope. (Explanation: He wanted to convey that he is good with children. Oops.)
- In Listenup, sitcom starred by Jason Alexander, had the protagonist following his daughter to find out why she was mad at him... during her soccer game...
- The IT Crowd: One of Jen's boyfriends is actually named Peter File, prompting a large amount of heckling by Moss and an incident with the parent of a small child at an airport after his name is called over the PA. Moss says this would not be a problem in America where it's pronounced differently, though this is not strictly true (the short E pronunciation is more common, but depending on the dialect not exclusively so).
- In an episode of House, House is investigating the case of a young brother and sister who are developing early puberty (along with other, deadlier symptoms). After much guessing, House decides to go to the girl's kindergarten to find the source of the illness, since she was the first to be "infected". Cut to a girl in said kindergarten class picking up a ball and looking up to see House asking in the creepiest way possible, "Do you have hair in your special place?" (of course, knowing House, he was probably trying to terrify the girl on purpose).
- A very light version in the episode where Chase kisses a 8-year-old cancer patient. (For context, the girl asks Chase to do so since she knows she's likely to die before she'll ever get a proper first kiss, and he complies with a very chaste peck on the lips.) Presumably, his teammates don't really think he's a pedophile, but their reactions are priceless. Their actual thought process appears to be less "oh my God, Chase is a pedophile" and more "oh my God, we can make fun of Chase by pretending to think he's a pedophile."
- Bones: Booth and Bones are investigating a children's beauty pageant, looking for a killer with uneven hips. Bones, being Bones, gets right to it and grabs the nearest person to check before Booth can stop her. Of course it's a little girl, who screams, "Molester!" Booth smooths things over with the security guard who sympathizes against the over-reaction in light of the murder investigation, but rightly points out that they can't put their hands on children like that. (he advises that they just WATCH the pageant in order to observe all the kids).
- In Burn Notice, Michael pays a bunch of Street Urchins to pretend that a Mook tailing them was a molester to the policeman standing nearby in order to get said mooks off his back. For extra hilarity, the mooks were FBI agents, and when one of them reaches for his wallet & identification, both cops pin them to car and immediately cuff them, thinking they were reaching for a gun.
- The Daily Show, as seen on the picture above. They later tried other variations like "Jon Stewart Looks at Children's Things" and "Uncle Jon Wants to Show You Something".
"Jon Stewart's Windowless News Van for Kids".
"Jon Stewart's Story Hole for Kids. Remember, it's our little se-" Oh, come on! Who writes this??
"Jon Stewart Jizz-ams In Front of Children".
"Jon Stewart Looks At Kid's Junk."
- The Colbert Report has its own version, "Stephen Colbert's Balls for Kidz".
- In the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode "The Table Read" Larry meets a nine-year-old girl and her mother tells him that she has to take her to the doctor, because she has a vaginal rash. The girl takes a liking to Larry, and constantly sends him text messages; Larry once loses his patience and sends her an angry response, and has to make up for it with inviting her for lunch. Later, he develops a rash too, and when his doctor asks how he might got it, Larry says: "I've been seeing this nine-year-old girl and she kinda has a rash on her pussy...Um, you know, I took her to lunch the other day, and we had a fight, and we made up, and we hugged. It's gotta be her." The doctor calls the police on him.
- In the episode "The Doll", he hugs a little girl, forgetting that he tucked his water bottle in his pants.
Mommy! Mommy! That bald man is in the bathroom and there's something hard in his pants!
- In the episode "The Doll", he hugs a little girl, forgetting that he tucked his water bottle in his pants.
- The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon sharpens his social skills by making friends with a little girl at a bookstore. Leonard ends up dragging him out of the store because there are security cameras.
- While looking for a partner for Dennis in "The Jerusalem Duality", Leonard, Howard and Raj turn to Penny, requesting (quite desperately) a "hot 15-year-old girl with a thing for smart guys." Needless to say, Penny slams the door on them in disgust.
- Sheldon, dealing with the problem of how to attract more girls to science-based university courses, having correctly devised that you need to begin in middle schools to get girls studying sciences, goes to do an Internet search on available resources. Raj, Leonard and Howard have to scream "No, Sheldon!", as he enters the search term "how can I get twelve year old girls excited?"
- Malcolm in the Middle: In the episode Malcolm Defends Reese, Hal discovers that Dewey has a crush on Gina, and attempts to do everything he can to have Gina and Dewey meet, even trying to offer her candy to get her into the car. Unfortunately, one of their neighbors saw this and thought Hal was a child molester trying to lure his latest victim.
- My Name Is Earl:
- The Right Choice Ranch, a summer camp for troubled boys, tried a number of slogans which sounded really wrong, like "Touching Bad Boys Since 1963", "Bringing Boys To Their Knees Since 1963", and "Forcing Boys To Turn Around Since 1963". By the time an adult Earl came back for a list item, they'd apparently given up: "We Don't Do Anything Inappropriate To The Boys".
- Another episode has Earl give Dodge's girlfriend a fake break up note to cross something else off his list. When the girl starts crying, Earl hugs her and says "Don't tell anyone about this. It'll be our little secret." A woman, who happens to walk by and overhears, yells "Pedophile!", kicks Earl in the crotch and blows a rape whistle.
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
- In "Dennis Looks Like a Registered Sex Offender", Dennis tries making neighborhood relations to distinguish himself from the ex-con (who was put in jail for molesting children) who moved in nearby. Dee suggests he show the children fitness exercises, and take off his shirt to demonstrate how they worked on himself. Ego stroked, Dennis is convinced to do just that, and Dee goes directly to the fathers to point out the half-naked sex offender hanging around their children.
- In "Frank Reynolds' Little Beauties". Frank gets offered to host a beauty pageant and agrees. So he can see some hot chicks. But it turns out to be a children's beauty pageant and the original host was a pedophile. So he starts to get worried people might think he's a pedophile. As the gang points out, his obsessive attempts, to try and prove he's not a pedophile, will just make him seem more suspicious.
- In "The Nightman Cometh". Dee stars in Charlie's play. She plays a Love Interest for Dayman. But Dayman is referred to as "little boy" and such and wears footy pajamas, even though he's a young adult. This causes Dee to worry about being perceived as a pedophile.
- How I Met Your Mother:
- How I Met Your Mother had "I don't want a girl, I just want a little boy!" and "Of all the women in New York you had to go out with an eight-year-old girl!"
Ted: Not what it sounds like, folks!
- In another episode, Ted has become a bit obsessed with caring for Marvin, filling the hole of a recently finished architecture project. Lily and Marshall eventually figure it out and lure him to an interview for a new position by inviting him to Marvin's swim class, giving him a lollipop to soften the blow. As he prepares for the interview, he says "I'll just give this (the lollipop) to one of the kids." Marshall anticipates this response and says "Ted, you're not the father of any of the kids here. Don't give them candy."
- How I Met Your Mother had "I don't want a girl, I just want a little boy!" and "Of all the women in New York you had to go out with an eight-year-old girl!"
- In one episode of First Wave, a teenage boy who reads Crazy Eddie's website thinks his neighbor is an alien and gets Cade to come to his house. The kid's parents are quite worried when they find an adult man in their son's bedroom, become more worried when they find out they met on the internet, but luckily when Cade claims to be a reporter they buy it.
- On Parks and Recreation, April sends Andy to pick up her little sister at school. Andy shows up two hours late, so when he arrives in his van, April's sister calls the school security guard and says she doesn't know him. The guard asks him if he is trying to lure this girl into his unmarked white van, and Andy replies, "Yeah, but she's being really difficult about it." Andy then clarifies that it's not actually his van; he stole it from a friend, and he really shouldn't be driving because his license is waaaay expired. Cut to Andy on his knees being read his rights.
- The Law & Order episode "Precious" features a suspect in a child's kidnapping with a history of creepy behavior, including taking photographs of children at the park, who turns out to be pretending to be a talent scout for child actors - so he can hit on their "lonely" adult nannies.
- Law & Order: SVU has had several episodes in which someone accused of abuse was actually innocent. Usually after Elliot Stabler, who despises pedophiles, persecutes them. There was also an unusual case where the 'child' in question was actually Older Than They Look due to a disorder that permanently kept her body at an adolescent's age. Legally, she was of age to consent. There Should Be a Law was brought up.
- (An inversion): Saturday Night Live had a sketch on the season 37 episode hosted by Steve Buscemi in which a college phys. ed supervisor holds a press conference to announce that one of the coaches (Steve Buscemi) is not a pedophile (at the time of the episode, news of sex scandals involving college coaches molesting their players was all over the news, with Penn State and Syracuse being the popular ones), despite that he has a disturbing mustache, lives with his mom, has never had a girlfriend (even implying that he could be asexual, since investigators found no evidence that he was sexually attracted to men or women), and has poor social skills with people his own age. Even the head of NAMBLA's local chapter (played by Bill Hader) stated that the allegedly disturbing coach wouldn't be a good fit for NAMBLA if it turned out that he was, in fact, a pedophile.
- WKRP - Mr. Carlson is surprised when the Mrs. tells him she's pregnant. He's later sitting in the DJ booth, quietly ecstatic, and starts telling Venus about how much he'd like a little girl. Venus, unaware of events, gets a bit anxious, more so when Carlson decides a little boy would be just as good. At show's end, Carlson requests something so he and his wife can dance, and Venus puts on "Thank Heaven for Little Girls", still looking quite shaken.
- The opening sequence of the 2006 Emmys had host Conan O'Brien wandering onto the sets of several different shows. Towards the end, he walked into an empty house. . .only to be confronted by Dateline's Chris Hansen, at which point every truthful explanation that he gave only served to make him look more guilty:
Chris Hansen: I'm Chris Hansen with Dateline NBC.
Conan O'Brien: Oh, God. Okay, it's not what you think.
(voiceover) "Welcome to another edition of "To Catch A Predator"
Conan O'Brien: I'm looking for the Emmys. I'm hosting.
Chris Hansen: Hosting? That's what you call this?
Conan O'Brien: Yes, it's my second time. note
Chris Hansen: So you've done this before?
Conan O'Brien: Yeah, I did it one time and I liked it and I thought maybe I should do it again.
Chris Hansen: (voiceover) Of all the predators I've met, this guy, screen name conebone69, was by far the creepiest.
Conan O'Brien: Look ... (chuckles nervously) ... you think ... this is very easy to explain.
Chris Hansen: Explain it then.
(Conan dashes out of the house)
- In the British version of Being Human Mitchell, a vampire, is accused of being a pedophile after befriending a young neighborhood boy and lending him a tape which he believes to be an innocent movie but is in actuality a sex tape. He and his roommate are persecuted as a result.
- A similar thing happens in the US remake, although the kid steals the tape.
- An episode of Weeds gives a PTA meeting in which some of the members express concern over the fact that the wrestling coach is gay. Celia of all people is the voice of reason, pointing out that gay doesn't mean paedophile.
- In an episode of The Unit, Bob Brown sees a woman with her young daughter in a park and intentionally leads the woman to believe he's a paedophile because he needs them to leave.
- Modern Family:
- In one episode, Cam gives Manny advice over the phone on what to say to his date. Out of context, everyone around Cam assumes he is talking to a child he met on the internet. He doesn't help matters when he tells everyone "it's not what you think; I'm talking to an 11 year old boy".
- In another episode, Mitch and Cam are celebrating Cam's birthday, which is on February 29, leading to jokes about his age (because of course, he technically only has a birthday once every four years). At the end, Mitch makes a comment about "the eight-year-old I fell in love with," causing a nearby mom to glare suspiciously at them and take her young son away.
- In the episode where gay marriage is legalized in California, Jay and Manny head to the courthouse because Manny's planning on taking a trip to Colombia and needs some travel documents. They get in at the end of a long line of same-sex couples. Manny expresses his nervous about "doing this" (going to Colombia) and Jay responds in a manner that makes the other people in line think that he's trying to pressure the preteen boy to get married.
- In Victorious Robbie is beaten up by a group of mothers because he offered their kids ice cream that the gang didn't want. (It's a Long Story) The women chased him into an alley and beat him with sticks; he has a black eye for the rest of the episode.
- On The George Lopez Show, George and his coworker attempt to test his son Max by trying to lure him into the coworker's white van. He doesn't fall for it, but another boy does. To keep the boy quiet, George tells him to get in the van and bribes him with pocket change, which is when a police officer catches him.
- In The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret , this happens to Todd several times due to his incredible propensity for sabotaging his own life and his employee Dave's willingness to help that along (he suggests Todd acquire the services of the firm "Young and Not Legal").
Todd Margaret: I need to jump on one of those Young and Not Legal boys. I don't want some old guy jerking me around, I want the youngest, hottest kid they've got.
- On ER, Morris attends his son's soccer match (via a sperm donation he made in college). The boy's parents, having not been told that their son had tracked his biological father down, grow increasingly worried and suspicious about this stranger who is constantly calling out to the boy and cheering him on. When they exchange hugs after he scores a goal, the enraged mother physically attacks him. Only when poor Morris is being led away in handcuffs does the boy speak up and reveal who he is.
- In an early episode of Seinfeld, Jerry is making idle chit chat with his masseuse and mentions a recent child abduction in Pennsylvania, then begins rambling about how you just never know who could be some nutjob looking to hurt you or your kid, even pointing out how he could very well be such a person. The woman gets so freaked out that she refuses to continue having him as a client. When he shows up at the office to apologize and explain, the woman flips out even more and screams at her visiting son to run into her office and lock the door.
- In the second episode, Andre wants to find some black friends for his son due to fears that he's not "black enough." He drives up to a bus stop where some teenagers are and asks them if they like chips and soda. When they get suspicious, he says "Nothing weird. Just looking for some young black boys to bring back to my house". When a woman nearby starts calling the police, he realized That Came Out Wrong and drives off.
- In another episode, Dre's wife calls him out for just leaving a lost little girl alone in an elevator and asks him what's the worst that could've happened if he tried to help her. He then has an Imagine Spot of To Catch a Predator host Chris Hansen ambushing him.
- In The Inbetweeners, Jay and Neil force Simon to ask out some girls on the street to Will's party; turns out they're eleven. Cue them calling them Paedos and getting their older brother to beat them up. Actually inverted in the American series in which Jay goes out with a 12 year old; a line even the perverted British Jay would never cross.
- In "The Camping Trip", a drunken Simon attempts to express his love for Carli by climbing through her bedroom window at 3 in the morning. Unfortunately, he ends up in her kid brother's bedroom. This later leads to a very awkward conversation between Simon and his father about why it is never okay to touch children.
- In a Christmas special Sam and Dean, two grown men, go near a Children's Santa's workshop (trying to sniff out a Bad Santa they think is responsible for several abductions), and get some funny looks. Sam doesn't help by saying "We came here to watch."
- Mentioned in the season seven episode "Plucky Pennywhistle's Magic Menagerie" (S07, E14), wherein Dean and Sam investigate a restaurant chain that's an expy of Chuck E. Cheese's. Sam goes in as an FBI agent to question the employees and asks Dean to just sort of hang around and see which ones look extra nervous after their interviews with him. Dean isn't thrilled with his role.
Dean: Guy in his thirties hanging out at Plucky's alone that's normal. That's not pervy at all.
- The Basil Brush Show features an episode called "Holding the baby", in which young Miss Molly comes into the room carrying the aforementioned baby, followed shortly after by a middle-aged man claiming to be its father. Mr Steven comes to an understandable conclusion and almost smashes the man's face in. Fortunately, the child's mother arrives in the nick of time and explains that Steven's niece has taken up babysitting.
- Played for drama in the Inspector George Gently episode "Gently Between The Lines". A local decides that a squatter living in an empty house is a pedophile because of his interest in a young boy (he is actually teaching the working class boy about poetry). This has tragic consequences.
- One of the episodes of "Oh! Mikey" involves Mikey's parents getting him a tutor. The tutor is very attractive and Mikey's father very unsubtly takes a liking to her in front of his wife. In an Imagine Spot Mikey's parents mistake that the tutor is trying to seduce Mikey. His parents walk in on Mikey's tutor talking about how talented he is and how she wanted to teach him something fun, however she's referring to him being good at origami.
- One episode of Another Period has an orphan boy being hired. He appears diligent and polite at first however lets his bratty side appear around Garfield. After being caught by Garfield trying to steal jewelry, he accuses him of trying to molest him. Peepers say that he always worried about Garfield and boys.
- The first season finale of Silicon Valley has Jared strung out on Adderall because it's time for Tech Crunch Disrupt and he hasn't slept in a week due to incidents in previous episodes. When he's desperately trying to come up with a way to retool Pied Piper after Hooli showed off their Nucleus program, he ends up getting picked up by the cops who have seen him accosting children (to bounce software ideas off of them) and because he explained his erratic behavior as being on Adderall that he got from a 12-year-old boy (which is innocuously true, but not the way the police interpreted it).
- In episode 8 of Killing Eve co-protagonist Villanelle kidnaps her mentor's pre-teen daughter, Irina. Villanelle spends the rest of the episode dragging Irina around Moscow, Irina finally just asks her if she's a pedophile while they're eating lunch. Villanelle, a sociopathic assassin, is mortified at the suggestion.
- CSI: NY:
- One episode revolved around the Victim of the Week, a high school wrestling coach who supposedly e-mailed child pornography to the members of his team. It turns out that one team member became disgruntled after the coach moved him up a weight class, and thus ended any possibility of going to college on a wrestling scholarship. As payback, he hijacked the coach's wifi signal and used his coach's e-mail address to send the child pornography. When the father of one of the boys, a court bailiff, found the e-mail, he threatened to call the authorities, but when the coach went to explain the situation, things got physical, and the father ended up killing the coach.
- Another episode had a former teacher shooting up a political rally to get revenge on a different teacher who disliked his caring manner towards the kids he worked with. In one particular flashback, we see the teacher/shooter hugging a student of his after she scraped her knee and getting fired for his behavior being "inappropriate."
- In an episode of CSI, a little girl turns up dead near a mechanic shop, the CSIs question the employees, where it is revealed that one of them is a registered sex offender, and becomes the prime suspect. When questioned, he reveals that one night he got drunk and high, and the effects lasted until the next day where he was caught streaking in front of a daycare, and forced to register as a sex offender. in the end, he didn't kill the girl she accidentally swallowed some cleaning chemicals when she was playing hide and seek with her step-siblings, and her parents tried to cover up her death, which after a series of misunderstandings led to the death of the mother, and her husband in prison. Once the original suspect's identity was uncovered, he was immediately fired from the auto shop, his girlfriend, whom he was planning to move in with, threw his stuff out of her apartment, and he was evicted from his old apartment before the lease was due.
- The third season of True Detective has some civilian vigilantes accosting an ex-Vietnam War veteran turned homeless man, accusing of kidnapping children in a local town in Arkansas.
- Any episode of Without a Trace where the Victim of the Week was a child featured an instance where a suspect was this (though in several incidents, a pedophile was indeed responsible for the child's disappearance). Particularly in "Manhunt", when they learn that the kidnapper was fired from his teaching job for inappropriate behavior with his students (bringing them to his house to watch movies). It turns out that his son died and he's been searching for a Replacement Goldfish ever since.
- The Man in the High Castle: A member of the resistance is sent to spy on John Smith's family as they go about their day. Their female bodyguard assumes him to be a paedophile since he's been following her and John Smith's daughter around a department store all morning, and threatens him over this. He's obviously not, they're just trying to figure out their routine to find an opportunity to make contact with Helen Smith.
- Detectorists has Mackenzie Crook's character Andy waiting for his girlfriend Becky, a primary school teacher, outside of her place of work. A police officer approaches him and asks him why he's a middle aged man hanging around outside a school at the end of the day. Andy cheerfully explains that he's waiting for his girlfriend, and when sarcastically questioned what class she's in, answers honestly. It's not until the officer tells him that all the pupils have gone that the realisation belatedly kicks in.
Andy: She's a teacher. She's not... she's a teacher.
- As the final indignity, Andy (who's just learned that the officer was questioning him "because he was making some of the mums nervous") asks Becky if he looks like a pedophile. After mulling it over, she decides he does have "a bit of a look about him", but concludes he looks more like a drug dealer.
- In The X-Files episode "Eve", Mulder manages to capture a pair of murderous Enfante Terrible Creepy Twins, but they scream for help and a nearby couple get the wrong end of the stick, forcing Mulder at gunpoint to release them and ignoring his protests that he's an FBI agent.
- Rake: Due to some cases of not what it looks like Cleaver gets taken as a pedophile. He's blackmailed over it by Cal.
- The Talking Candy Bar Blues by Paul Stookey is a story told from the point of view of the poor Butt-Monkey who falls prey to this trope set to some light musical accompaniment.
- In 1973, Tanya Tucker sang about one in "What's Your Mama's Name." In what turns out to be a story of a man trying to search for and reconnect with an ex-girlfriend, the man (named Buford Wilson) travels to Memphis, Tennessee, to search for the woman, but things take an unexpected turn when Wilson meets a green-eyed girl, with whom he suspects he has a connection. After believing the girl may be his daughter, Wilson asks her the title question, about New Orleans (where he and his ex-girlfriend had their previous encounter) and if she knows a man named Buford Wilson. When others witness Wilson offering the girl candy — a nickel's worth, yet! — he is arrested for enticing a child and sentenced to a month in the county jail on hard labor. Wilson's true intentions aren't revealed until the final verse, when years later he — by now a homeless, drunken vagrant — is found dead ... a ragged coat and a faded letter contained within his only possessions. The letter, by the way, is the final clue as to the man's true intentions: "You have a daughter, and her eyes are Wilson green" ... meaning that this wasn't some random, drunken, seedy stranger trying to lure away a little girl to molest. The song became 14-year-old Tucker's first No. 1 hit in May 1973 and set the tone of much of her early material: Gritty, meaty material about adult topics and where the outcome wasn't always positive, her husky voice belying the fact she was just barely into her teenage years.
- Accidentally invoked by X Japan as a result of Values Dissonance, Society Marches On, and for the band's reputation of the time. In casting the female lead for the Celebration Performance Video, they chose a girl between 9 and 13 as a fan of the band, to go with the Cinderella theme and yet avoid the Unfortunate Implications of an adult female slave. In the video, her overprotective Moral Guardian mom is paralyzed by Loud of War, and the girl goes out for a night on the town with the band. However, nothing troubling is done to her, and she's treated as a friend, even more so than the other band members, there are adult women that the band is partying with, and she isn't even drinking or smoking with them. Nevertheless, the context of a young girl going out for a night on the town with five young unrelated adult men unsupervised, no matter what, is, now, outside of The '80s and outside of the context of the video itself, inherently Sick and Wrong.
- Out of context, the song 'Vehicle' by Ides of March is easily misinterpreted as a song about a paedophile seducing and then abducting a child. The song was written as a tongue-in-cheek joke and actually has two different origins. Jim Peterik says he initially got the idea from some anti-drug pamphlets and the title of the song came from his experiences with a woman he was pining for and was overly infatuated with. He got the title when he realised his current flirting tactic wasn't working, and he was just being her taxi to modelling school. After the song came out, they had an on-off relationship until they were eventually married.
Hey, well, I'm the friendly stranger in the black sedan. Woncha hop inside my car. I got pictures, I got candy, I'm a lovable man and I can take you to the nearest star.
- In the Vocaloid song The Tailor Of Enbizaka, the titular tailor spots her unfaithful lover buying a hairpin for a girl who is far too young for him, to her disgust. Not only does the girl turn out to be his daughter, but Kayo is delusional and her lover has no idea who the tailor is.
- The Wrong Ian Watkins by Kunt and the Gang is a song about a man who sends insulting messages to Ian "H" Watkins under the mistaken belief that he's the other Ian Watkins. This is also inverted later in the song when he attempts to apologize to Ian H Watkins and sends his apology to Lostprophets Ian Watkins by mistake.
- Love Never Dies has this in a meta sense: If someone wanders in for "The Beauty Underneath", then good luck explaining that it's not actually the seduction of a ten-year-old. The earnest reply of "Yes!" from Gustave (the kid) throughout doesn't help matters any.
- Ragna the Bloodedge from Blazblue - a gag that crops up in the main story once and repeatedly in the joke endings.
- In the remakes of Phantom Brave, you can play an alternative storyline called "Another Marona". In it, Ash is mistaken for a pedophile by Carona because of how protective he is of Marona, a position that the other phantoms believe, to his dismay.
- Happens once in a while in the Super Robot Wars Z series, where Rand Travis is engaged to Mel Peter, who is 16 but looks younger due to her age being stunted by the Wounded Lion Sphere. In particular, in Z3 Tengoku-hen, mention of the engagement draws disgusted reactions from Clouseau and Kurz, with Rand muttering that he'll have to explain things later.
- The middle-aged Mercenary Gregor from Fire Emblem Awakening is first seen chasing after Nowi, who he wanted to make sure was okay. Problem is that Nowi, despite being about a thousand years old (and therefore one of the few characters in the game who is actually OLDER than Gregor), is a Manakete, which means she looks like and is by her races standards, an adolescent girl. Who's dressed in a very Age-Inappropriate Dress. Chrom, Robin, and Lissa see him chasing after her and assume the obvious.
- In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III the Pantagruel flies by and both Altina starts narrating that Rean walked in on her sleeping, which is true since this does happen in the previous game, but that was all he did and was beaten up for it. But from the way Altina narrates it, both Juna and Kurt believe that Rean is hitting on little girls now and makes sure that Altina stays with them from now on. Poor Rean still can't catch a break.
- In Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey, at one point the mercenary Angriff expresses an interest in Firis' alchemy exam, admitting he never went to school and he doesn't know what an exam's like. As his questions continue, Liane wonders if he's suddenly interested in exams perhaps because he's interested in children in "that way." He is rightly offended by this and she admits that she probably went too far. As it turns out, his motives are indeed pure. He's looking to build a school for children so that they don't have to live a hard life like him.
- In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven, Anasui's interactions with Jotaro are basically him begging Jotaro to let him marry Jotaro's daughter Jolyne. Anasui is from Part 6 (where Jolyne is a legal adult), but the two versions of Jotaro in-game (Part 6 Jotaro was Dummied Out) are not. The Jotaro from pt. 4 is particularly repulsed because Jolyne is a six-year-old in his time (Part 3 Jotaro is just confused because he's 17 and doesn't yet have a family).
- Peret em Heru: For the Prisoners: The nine-year-old Rin attempts to invoke this in one of her pranks. She asks Ayuto for help, then starts screaming the moment he touches her, claiming he was trying to molest her. She does this purely because she likes being the center of attention.
- Farnham Fables: In the first episode, the princes rescue Gloria, a young lizard girl who is naked due to National Geographic Nudity. Although Fredrick is OK with playing with her while escorting her back to her mother, he will refuse to do so while at the bus stop out of fear of this trope happening: it's a much more public area, and passersby could easily get the wrong idea if they saw them.
- This Starry Midnight We Make: The protagonists, who are a woman and a man, are chatting to a schoolgirl in the middle of the street and offering her food, where the woman is worried about how it all looks.
- The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures: An implied example involving, of all people, Sherlock Holmes. Ryuunoske and Susato meet ten-year-old Dr. Iris Watsonnote who lives with Holmes in his flat. She also writes the manuscripts based on his adventures for publication. There are some minor examples of artistic license, but the biggest one is involving Dr. Watson. Namely that it's not John Watson; it's Iris. Iris says that she changed her character to a grown man since people would reasonably think it's weird that a Great Detective is dragging a ten-year-old girl with him everywhere he goes. The implication is that one reason she did this was to avoid this trope.
- Higurashi: When They Cry:
- This is invoked by Irie. He's constantly cooing over Satoko and saying he wants to marry her, but behind his ditzy facade it's shown that he only sees her like a daughter.
- Rena accuses Keiichi of this when she learns that he only shot little girls with his BB gun prior to moving to Hinamizawa.
- Spirit Hunter series:
- In Death Mark, Christie didn't react well when she saw Eita Nakamatsu with Suzu Morimiya at the dead of night in chapter 3. Her fears aren't entirely unfounded; though Eita only sees Suzu as a little sister, he was originally intended to be a pedophile.
- In Spirit Hunter: NG, Yakumo's mansion contains evidence that he was stalking young girls, which naturally led Akira to question whether he was a pervert who got off on abusing kids. While that isn't the case, the truth isn't much better; he was kidnapping and mutilating young girls to offer them to the Big Bad, satiating her for ten years.
- Zero Punctuation
- "I find that 'I will die of an indistinct infection if I don't remain physically close to preteen girls' rarely goes down well in court."
- And in his review of the 3DS, namely the StreetPass feature...
Although I did stumble on some kind of Middle School outing at the War Memorial that was absolutely packed with kids, and my first thought was "Fucking jackpot!" Followed closely by the thought - "What the hell is wrong with me!?" I am a grown man excited by the presence of schoolchildren because I'm going to leave lots of little deposits in their trouser pockets and bumbags.
- Penny Arcade did their take on this in this strip.
- And in this one.
- The Perry Bible Fellowship wrings a fairly cruel joke from this trope here and subverts it here.
- This strip of Wondermark.
- In Unsounded, Sette calls Duane a pedophile in hilarious terms when he tells her she deserves spanking. Made even more hilarious when readers understand he is, by far, the least likely character to intentionally harm or distress a child.
- In Homestuck, Doc Scratch (who, being a cueball-headed demigod and a puppet, is asexual in every way) tells Rose (a 13-year-old girl) he likes young ladies; naturally she construes it this way. Then he just keeps Digging Himself Deeper.
Rose: How young are the ladies you usually take a shining to? And does this mean you're attracted to me? Suddenly this conversation is kind of terrible.
Doc Scratch: Of course I am not. Not in the way you mean. And anyway, you are applying standards of conduct frowned upon for your kind which make no sense to apply to me. I am an immortal entity with a large cue ball for a head, and no biological means of reproduction. [...] Try to think of me as one of your kindly human uncle figures. In fact, if I were in your presence now, I would offer you candy to prove it.
- In the tie-in Visual Novel Pesterquest, the player character (an adult) can hang out with John (just turned 13) in the latter's bedroom, mere minutes after meeting him. When this happens, John almost immediately receives an instant message from his friend Dave, and during their resulting conversation an extremely dismayed Dave points out the problem with this situation. As per the trope, the protagonist's intentions are completely innocent, but the other characters don't have any real way of knowing that.
Dave: Do I even need to explain why a 13 year old kid shouldn't become buddies with a fuckin' mailman and hang out with him in his room? Does your dad know about this?
John: Well, no...
- In the tie-in Visual Novel Pesterquest, the player character (an adult) can hang out with John (just turned 13) in the latter's bedroom, mere minutes after meeting him. When this happens, John almost immediately receives an instant message from his friend Dave, and during their resulting conversation an extremely dismayed Dave points out the problem with this situation. As per the trope, the protagonist's intentions are completely innocent, but the other characters don't have any real way of knowing that.
- In Goblins, Minmax humiliated his adventuring partner Forgath by yelling at a passing young (adult) woman "Hey! Thirteen and hot!" on a crowded street. The passersby didn't realize he was talking about her Charisma score, not her age.
- Looking for Group: long story short, Richard is stuck in a tree and Cale is trying to get him out of the trouble. Then a lonely villager kid turns up to see what they are doing. Cale offers his hand for a hand shake in such a disturbing way that the kid just runs away.
Richard: Nothing bad could ever come out of two adults chasing a child through the forest. I'm in. Make sure you constantly yell "I just want to talk" in a deep voice.
- Played for Drama in The Friendly Winter. Min-Seong is a tall seventeen year old boy with the mental capacity of a seven year old. At least twice he's gotten into trouble for seeming to kidnap a little girl when he was really trying to help her.
- Forest Hill:
- An unusual inversion happens when Flora has a chance encounter at the grocery store with a young raccoon named Talitha and her pedophile father, Ray, who mistakes Flora for being a pedophile as well since Benni, her new foster child, who is also one of Ray's victims, happened to be with her.
- Benni has been raised to believe that all adults are pedophiles and Flora and Colin have difficulty convincing him that this isn't true. Flora finds out just how badly Benni has been abused when he mistakenly thinks that Flora and Colin were having sex with Tanya. And later when Colin gives the boys permission to be naked at his house, Benni mistakenly thinks Colin is going to have sex with them and tries to protect Kaleb and Hunter by offering himself to Colin in their place.
- In an early Roommates arc, when attempting to set Javert up with a blind date, one of Jareth's choices is Kira, who suffers from a case of Older Than They Look. This earns him dirty looks from the rest of the cast.
Jareth: What? We know each other professionally! PROFESSIONALLY!
- Played for Drama in Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures, when we finally see Regina's backstory: She was, from her perspective, lured to a strange house (Dan invited her to Wildy's house to play video games), asked a series of highly personal questions about her family and race by a man who had "creepy" views on "taming the dangerous creature", and prevented from leaving. And then someone walked behind her.
- In Scarlet Lady: Pretty much everyone, from the Mayor to Hawk Moth, is unnerved by Theo's crush on the underage Scarlet Lady. Theo even becomes a Phrase Catcher for "How old are you, anyway?". He's around the same age as Scarlet Lady, but looks older.
- Schlock Mercenary: Variant. Chisulo is an uplifted elephant at a circus, and wants to talk to another uplifted elephant who is hiding among the non-uplifted elephants. The wrangler assumes he's there because he's "too lazy or boorish to score with a female who can talk back to you." Non-uplifted animals are described as "a little bit like children and a little bit like beasts."
Footnote: "Pedobeastophilia" is a seven-syllable word which, had it been spoken by the wrangler in the strip above, would probably have resulted in his death.
- Joel is mistaken for having sex with a young crossdresser named Chelsie by his co-worker Artie after he hears both of them giggling from behind a counter, but it turns out he is just coloring with him
- A one-shot character in A Simple Thinking About Blood Type gets himself arrested after a Gossip Evolution somehow distorts his statement that he's dating a kindergarten teacher into a rumour that he molests kindergarten kids.
- At one point in Tower of God, Urek Mazino wears a special anklet that works as a Power Limiter. Everyone mistakes it for the type of anklet used to restrain criminals and, combined with his reputation for hitting on people, assume the worst, asking Bam if Urek tried to take him away somewhere.
- In Whomp!, Ronnie sees a little girl playing Harvest Moon on the 3DS and Ronnie creepily asks her "Have you decided who you'll marry, yet?". Her father wasn't pleased.
- This quote (sad/paranoid version) and this one (comedy version) at Overheard.
- On a Writing Excuses podcast on character voices, Howard Taylor described how, in order to get the speech patterns right on one of his younger characters, he paid attention to how his daughter and her friends talked to each other...
- This Cake Wreck. Consensus seems to be that the Korean decorator wanted a word that conveyed the recipient's love of children and... yeah.
- A Running Gag in Some Jerk with a Camera. Chris Hansen keeps misconstruing what Some Jerk says as something sexually inappropriate about teens or children.
- A recurring story on Not Always Working: Boyfriend and girlfriend go out or go shopping, worker at the location thinks the girl is ten years younger than she really is, they get affectionate, the police get called, and the boy is in cuffs before the girl knows what's going on. In one case, the girl in question had showed ID and ordered wine before the mistake happened.
- In the third episode of Dark Swamp, Revy decides to give Rock the gift of...a child prostitute (in this case Gretel) after misinterpreting what he said in a strip club days earlier.
- Occurs a few times in The Nostalgia Critic, especially in his review of Kazaam where he notes how problematic it is that a 7 foot tall man follows around, showers in front of, sleeps with and at one point kisses a preteen boy.
- South Park sort of subverts this in "Cartman Joins NAMBLA". First, Mr. Garrison upon being arrested for meeting with Cartman blurts out that he doesn't want love from young boys (he slips and states he likes men his own age, before making an unconvincing assertion of heterosexuality). Also, Mephisto admits to being a member of NAMBLA, and tells Cartman he would fit right in. Mephisto, however, meant the North American Marlon Brando Look Alikes (featuring men who all look like the fat, bald version of Marlon Brando as seen in the first Godfather movie and Apocalypse Now), who had an ongoing rivalry with the real NAMBLA(The North American Man-Boy Love Association) over copyright issues over their name.
- The episode "Red Hot Catholic Love" sees the town's parents become concerned that Priest Maxi is molesting their boys, which he isn't. Maxi investigates claims of molestation within the Church and discovers he's the only Catholic priest in the world who doesn't molest children.
- Big Gay Al falls victim to the popular assumption that All Gays Are Paedophiles in "Cripple Fight" when he's fired as Scout Master. The parents who wanted him gone learn their lesson the hard way when his heterosexual replacement, Mr. Grazier, turns out to be an actual pedophile and child molester.
- Exploited by the children in "The Wacky Molestation Adventure", who call the cops and claim their parents molested them, just to have them taken away and live in freedom. The town turns into a post-apocalyptic hellscape within a matter of days.
- In "A Boy and a Priest", Father Maxi (who at this point is already the butt of many pedophile jokes) gets hit with this once again after he and Butters develop a genuine kinship based on the two of them being ostracized from others. This leads to the Vatican Church sending their Cleanup Crew to cover up the crime and kill the kids for being potential evidence. Maxi eventually comes to acknowledge that he should have done more to combat the sexual abuse issues of the church and accepts the constant humiliation he faces each day as his penance.
- Family Guy
- The Season 6 episode "McStroke" contains an incident that is bizarre but still plays the mistaken impression of pedophilic acts for laughs: Stewie a 1-year-old who is capable of adult thought and speech is able to disguise himself as a high school student for a whole episode. He embarks on a relationship with Connie d'Amico the show's Alpha Bitch who is fooled into thinking Stewie is a teenager named Zach which goes bad when, trying to initiate sex, she makes fun of his non-sexually developed anatomy. Stewie gets his revenge on Connie by removing his disguise so that everyone in school, and the police, will see Connie kissing a naked baby.
- At one point, Stewie also attempts to blackmail Brian by putting nude pictures of himself on Brian's laptop and threatening to pass it to the FBI.
- An earlier episode has Peter in a job interview when this happens:
Boss: So where do you see yourself in five years?
Peter: (thinks) Don't say "doing your wife," don't say "doing your wife"... (aloud) Doing your... (looks at family photo on desk) son?
- American Dad! did it too. Steve decided to take some self-shot pictures in his underwear to give to a classmate he had a crush on. Then the police found them and assumed Stan took them.
- The Cleveland Show had this as well. Cleveland is often mistaken as this because of his close relationship with his son Junior. Not helped that his kid loves to kiss him in public and says suggestive things about him. One particular example occurs when Cleveland is trying to find a friend for Junior. He sees a teenager at a bus stop and instead of bringing Junior to him, he goes himself and tries to get the kid to come back to his car so he can play with "Cleveland Jr." The kid turns out to be an undercover officer and they get him in a sting operation. Later he admits that after reading the transcript, it was an understandable mistake.
- Played with in Justice League. The episode "Wild Cards" actually has Batman suggest to Harley that the Joker is this. Harley assumes that Joker is dumping her for Ace when seeing him hugging and massaging her. The worst part is that Joker didn't deny it.
- In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode "Duck!" (which involves an invisible duck that can only be seen by its victims, and makes fart sounds to make others think the victim is farting), Grim is seen trying to prove to children that he didn't fart... and decides to prove it by showing them his skeletal body, since being a skeleton means that can't have done that. He does so while shouting "Look at my body!" and is arrested shortly afterward.
- Captain Sunshine from The Venture Bros. was subjected to this trope both in-universe on a meta level. His rainbow-themed superhero costume, his Manchild tendencies and his obsession with his deceased sidekick, Wonderboy, not only led some characters to assume some things about him (with The Monarch in particular exploiting it as a form of psychological torture), but also served as the basis for a number of running gags on the episodes featuring him. However, since he had few actual on-screen moments that made it explicitly clear he wasn't a pedophile, much of the fanbase actally though the gags were full-on Black Humor about him actually being a sexual predator instead of just this trope. Word of God had to step in and clarify Captain Sunshine isn't a pedophile — just extremely emotionally scarred from losing his sidekick and unable to cope with his loss.
- In The Fairly OddParents episode "Dinkle Scouts", Timmy's Dad can't take his scout troop to the movies for this reason.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, of all series, has jokes implying this.
- In "The Cutie Re-Mark, Part 1", Twilight is sent back in time and has to encourage a filly Rainbow Dash to do a Sonic Rainboom. Dash gets scared off by Twilight's overly eager nature and closeness.
- In ''The Gift of the Maud Pie", a mare calls the police when Pinkie Pie, known for her No Sense of Personal Space, gets too close to the mare's daughter.
- This kind of joke was used as a plot point in the Mary Shelley's Frankenhole episode "Franz Kafka's Jealousy". The Invisible Man ends up meeting a little girl, who is informed by the Invisible Man that his clothes aren't invisible and that he, in fact, walks around naked. The girl is horrified by the implications of a man walking around naked in front of children, so she comes crying to her father about her encounter with the Invisible Man, which results in her dad leading an angry mob to try and kill the Invisible Man.
- In one episode of Jeff & Some Aliens, Jeff has an argument with his 12-year-old niece which leads his landlord to believe he's trying to groom her for sex. After seeing the preteen girl robot leaving Jeff's apartment in a disheveled state, he believes he has no choice but to castrate Jeff. Luckily for Jeff, he got the wrong guy.
- In the Rick and Morty episode "Morty's Mind Blowers", Morty sees a "threatening man" on the moon through his telescope, who appears to be the school's new guidance counselor, Mr. Lunas, the next day. Morty claims to Principal Vagina that he "lives on the moon", which the Principal believes to be a euphemism for pedophilia. After being assaulted and fired, Mr. Lunas takes his own life, and morty then realizes the "man on the moon" was just a smidge.
- The Simpsons episode "Haw-Haw Land" features a sub-plot of Bart gaining an interest in chemistry, which starts when a man approaches him and asks if he'd like him to show him something. Before the man clarifies that he is a chemist, Bart asks the man if he is a pervert.
- It happens to poor Sol in Sons of Butcher when he shows up to the wrong location to perform his meat-themed magic tricks. Said location happens to be a classroom of children watching Stranger Danger. After he bursts in ranting about doing things with his wiener to the children in it cuts to commercial, and when it returns he's getting his mug shots taken by the police.
Sol: WHO'S EVER HAD A WIENER BEHIND THEIR EAR, HUH?! YOU!
Sol: YOU'RE GONNA HELP MAKE MY WIENER DISAPPEAR!!!
- In the Gravity Falls episode "The Legend of the Gobblewonker", Stan attempts to make friends with a young boy during his fishing trip, but both the kid and his parents find it creepy and threaten to call the police, presumably for this reason. Later on, Stan is seen with an ankle bracelet.
- This can, sadly, occur in Real Life. And it is NEVER funny for anyone involved. Particularly for men who volunteer with children. Ask any man who volunteers with young kids regularly, almost every one of them at some point or another ran into this trope. Best case someone is making a 'joke' about it, but some people will seriously leap to this conclusion. In fact this trope is one of the reasons it's so hard to find males working with kids, as they're afraid of people leaping to conclusions like this. It's rather sad since many children in mentoring programs have no father figure and are desperate for male role models.
- During the 80's, there was a hysterical panic that went around about Satanic ritual abuse that was supposedly happening in preschools and day care centers. It's almost certain that nothing of the sort happened and children were interviewed in misleading and coercive ways. The most egregoius case would probably be that of Ray Buckey, who was charged with hundreds of counts of sexual abuse and spent five years in jail before being granted bail. He was cleared of all charges. The trial of his and his co-defendants was the longest and most expensive in California history and didn't produce a single conviction.
- This can occasionally be an issue for anyone who adopts or fosters children of a different race. Since you're not the same race, 'obviously' you're not the father, so what are you doing giving that kid a hug and kiss!?
- Or even if you are the biological relative of a child of a different race. A white man (married to a black woman) was recently arrested while merely strolling through the park with his black grand-daughter, having been mistaken for her kidnapper by some busybody who simply couldn't fathom that these two people of different races where in fact related.
- And due to some discredited stereotypes that just refuse to die, gay men get hit particularly hard by this.
- In 2016, Canadian writer Kel Currie was called a pedophile on Encyclopedia Dramatica by cyberbullies simply for watching cartoons and collecting dolls. Since Currie has a developmental disability, her interests are not typical of adults. Currie herself is asexual and has stated that she hates pedophiles.
- A survey conducted by the NSPCC (in Britain) found that 64% of those surveyed feared this implication if they were to help a lost child, with roughly half of that figure saying they'd approach anyway, and the other half saying they'd stay close by to keep an eye on the kid.
- This trope is why the Intergenerational Friendship is being seen less and less often in media; what was once viewed as an innocent, wholesome relationship is now seen as the adult "grooming" the child or teenager, in order to make him/her more receptive to sexual advances. Ironically, the situation means it's the adults who are being groomed to actively avoid contact with children.
- The British "newspaper" News of the World famously published a list of paedophiles which included several completely innocent PAEDIATRICIANS. One paediatrician moved after someone sprayed "paedo" on her front porch and door. Now it's becoming dangerous to even help a sick or injured child.
- During Rooster Teeth's RTX '15 convention, the RWBY team is showing off the poster for Volume 3. Miles Luna and Kerry Shawcross want to show the audience the detail on the post, but since they're using Windows' default picture viewer, it's hard to get it just right. The end result: Looking at something you shouldn't. Though it was obviously a goof, and the accusations were clearly humorous.
Lindsay Jones: [Ruby]'s 15, Miles! She's 15!
- According to a report from ABC news, the number of male teachers in the US has dropped by 60% since 1980 because of the assumption that any man who wants to intentionally work with children must be a pedophile. The report cited this attitude as being one of the many causes of the current teacher shortage in America.
- In June of 2017, a story emerged where a man was beaten and humiliated online, after asking a number of people if they had lost a two year old girl he was walking with.
- In November 2013, British singer Ian "H" Watkins was attacked with hate mail on Twitter, accusing him of pedophilia. It turned out that a different Ian Watkins had recently been convicted of child molestation and possession of pornography.
- Similarly, Baltimore sportscaster Gerry Sandusky still has people confuse him with former Pennsylvania State football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky who was convicted of child molestation. Even today, Gerry still gets called a pedo by some people.
- People who suffer from POCD, which is a subset of OCD where an individual suffers from unwanted harmful or sexual thoughts about children, which cause them anxiety, despair and sometimes depression. This is a rare case where people mistake themselves for pedophiles.