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There Are No Adults

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In storylines involving children or teenagers, the issues raised by the Adults Are Useless trope sometimes are handled more dramatically. Adults become rare to non-existent, occurring primarily as off-screen background. The adults might continue to set the contextual rules of the story, but they are not individuals to whom the children can appeal.

See also: Invisible Parents, Teenage Wasteland, World of No Grandparents, and Parental Abandonment. Sometimes caused by a catastrophe of some sort that was Only Fatal to Adults. Compare Hide Your Children, where the kids are theoretically around somewhere, but never shown on-screen.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Delicious Party♡Pretty Cure: Dreaming♡Children's Lunch!, no adults are allowed in the theme park Dreamia. When Rosemary (an adult) tries to enter to rescue the Cures, he is kidnapped by robots and thrown down a garbage chute.
  • In Revolutionary Girl Utena adult teachers only make a tiny handful of brief appearances which only emphasise how out of touch and ineffectual they are. The school appears to be essentially ruled by the teenaged members of the Student Council, and even serious issues, like a student badly injuring another, are dealt without adult interference. The only adult of any significance is Chairman Akio, and he is more like an embodiment of what a teenager would imagine an ideal adult to be like than someone with a genuine adult mentality.

    Asian Animation 

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • With very minor exceptions, the movie Brick.
  • The 1976 cult classic movie Bugsy Malone is a musical comedy about 1920s gangsters played entirely by children. It launched the careers of Scott Baio and Jodie Foster.
  • The MST3K-featured City Limits took place in a future where nearly all adults had been wiped out by a plague.
  • There are "adults" in the film Class of 1999 — but they are robots: violent, bloodthirsty robots.
  • A number of teen movies, such as Dazed and Confused. In Dazed and Confused adults do occasionally impact the story. One couple ends their plans to go on a trip so they can shut down a party that their son was planning on hosting in their house while they were to be gone. Another mother threatenens some seniors with a shotgun when they try to haze her boy. One stoner hypothosizes that the adults are complict or at least apathetic to the strange situation of the local highschool. Randy "Pink" Floyd's entire personal storyline centers around his conflicts with his football coach, who is seen harassing him to sign a "drug-free" pledge, and he and his teammates make fun of him near the end of the movie.
  • Very deliberate in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. There are teachers, but no parents.
  • The Roger Corman film Gas-s-s-s has a plot where the title poison gas causes everyone over the age of thirty to quickly age and die. A very seventies youth culture oriented take on the idea.
  • Also with very minor exceptions, the movie Kids.
  • The movie Kids World note  has a boy named Ryan Mitchell find a wishing glass that makes all teenagers and adults disappear from the world.
  • Logan's Run: Specifically the book had lastday be the 21st birthday. The Movie pushed this up (and avoided Dawson Casting by having lastday become the 30th.
  • Massacre at Central High is about a high school student who goes on a crusade to kill his school's bullies, and supposedly an influence on Heathers. No adults appear in the entire film.

  • Marc Laidlaw's awesomely weird Cyberpunk short story 400 Boys features street gangs of psychic teenagers battling posthuman giants after the classic adults-only pandemic, topped off with 'World War Last'.
  • The young adult series Countdown began with all adults — and all children, sparing only teenagers — vaporizing into puddles of black goo. The result is a world run by teenagers as ancient prophecies come to life.
    • Just wait until you're on the other side of Logan's Run.
    • Shade's Children, the occasional clues to the pre-apocalyptic tech level indicate that it was 20 Minutes into the Future (at minimum) even before the Change.
  • The Enemy by Charlie Higson takes place in a world in which all adults have been turned into zombies by a virus.
  • The Fire-Us Trilogy follows a band of kids a while after a virus (which is, of course Only Fatal to Adults) has rampaged the town. Unable to remember their names before hand, they have christened themselves with their jobs ('Mommy', 'Teacher', 'Hunter'. It appears the older children have renamed the younger children arbitrarily. 'Doll', 'Baby', 'Action Figure').
  • The Girl Who Owned a City is a post-apocalyptic story after a Only Fatal to Adults plague, where children are trying to survive on their own and dealing with issues of suddenly having to watch for infants, etc.
  • Michael Grant's Gone series begins with everyone over the age of 15 disappearing, so children are left to run the community. Though, in the later books we hear from the adults outside the FAYZ, so they aren't totally absent.
  • Lord of the Flies takes place on a deserted island. The only adults on the boat were killed, leaving only the boys to survive on their own. Lord of the Flies was a deconstruction of stories where boys had adventures while lost together, showing how the situation can quickly devolve.
  • Jack Dann's short story "The Marks of Painted Teeth" has teens competing for territory and provisions in a post-apocalyptic setting. They've apparently developed moderate telekinetic powers and a taste for Carl Jung.
  • The teenage protagonists of R. L. Stine books almost never had their parents around, with them usually being off on business trips, etc.
  • The Scholomance: The titular Wizarding School is built in the Void, powered by magic, and autonomous enough not to need adults on-site. Students are teleported in at the beginning of their freshman year and left to their own devices until graduation... hopefully to survive the monsters that stalk its halls.
  • There literally are no adults in Shade's Children, with one highly technical exception. The kids are forced to wage their guerrilla war in a post-apocalyptic world alone.
  • The Witch of Knightcharm: The rookie witch Emily, who has enrolled at an evil Wizarding School in an attempt to learn about and undermine it, soon realizes that there don't seem to be any adults. All the teaching and staff work is done by older students. Her roommate Megumi tries to find out where the adults actually are but is rebuffed by her mentor (also an older student), raising the possibility that no adults are present at all.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Canadian teen drama Edgemont has no characters over 21. Parents and teachers are only mentioned.
  • Zigzagged in the 2007 Reality Show Kid Nation, which placed 40 children aged 8-15 in a small town in an attempt to create a functioning society by themselves. There were adult cameramen, security, and the host but they kept their interaction with the kids to an absolute minimum. The children were for the most part required to prepare their own meals (with varying success), maintain the economy, and regulate themselves with the adults only intervening in emergencies. Ambulances were called on two occasions after one child drank out of an improperly washed bleach container and another burned herself with grease while cooking.
    • Kid Nation had a British counterpart, the 2009 4-episode miniseries Boys and Girls Alone in which 20 children aged 8-11 spent two weeks in houses divided by gender with minimal adult oversight. It was even worse. The boys struggled to cook for themselves while subsisting on sugary snacks which led to occasional violence, while the girls formed cliques and verbally abused one another. During the final day they had the girls move in with the boys, which led to worsened tensions. The series was so controversial that the government had to review its child labor laws after receiving hundreds of complaints.
    • Predating both of them there was the British (again) documentary series Cutting Edge which in 2003 had two episodes with a nearly identical format to Boys and Girls Alone, with 20 kids aged 10-12 in houses divided by gender for one week. They fared somewhat better, although the boys had the exact same issues with food preparation and power struggles with the film crew intervening once to stop them from bullying a hedgehog. The girls started out on a more positive note, but things quickly degenerate as bullying starts and one girl locks herself in a room for hours while expressing suicidal thoughts & refusing to eat.
  • The New People, a one-season series in 1970, featured a planeful of American students who crash-landed on a Pacific island, killing the pilots and supervisor.
  • New Zealand seems to have a habit for these kinds of shows because aside from the hit show The Tribe, it has also produced The New Tomorrow and The Cul De Sac. The former being a spin-off of The Tribe and the latter being an independent sci-fi fantasy show.
  • The Odyssey (a Canadian kids drama) took this to a very literal level. A main character who after receiving a concussion, found himself in a world where there were no adults. This is the start of a journey he makes through this strange land where he encounters weird societies and places while he searches for his Dad (long story; don't ask). With the exception of one episode which ended with a couple of parental arms reaching into view from the edge of the screen and dragging two of the trio away. There was also an inversion in an episode where they reached a wall that separated their world from a world of adults, where there were no kids
  • This was more or less the whole premise of Party of Five at the outset.
  • The BBC series The Sparticle Mystery has the adults disappear through a science experiment gone wrong.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Miri" uses this. Beware the grups!
  • New Zealand show The Tribe has all the adults of the world dying of a mysterious virus.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "The Shadow Man", there are no adults except for brief appearances by the school librarian and Danny Hayes' mother.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Peanuts, which generally did not even show adults in the panels. The kids are often shown REACTING to adults, but they are always shown talking to someone who is off-panel. Anything the adults do or say has to be inferred by the actions of the kids.
    • Charles Schulz is on record saying that the moment he did introduce adults was a big mistake. This was a series of 1954 Sunday strips involving Lucy competing in an amateur golf tournament while being coached by Charlie Brown. She has to withdraw and go home or miss her bedtime, even though she was winning. The adults make up the gallery, and are drawn more or less realistically, which doesn't remotely work in terms of scale with the regular characters. (Even then, their faces aren't shown.) The strips appear in the 1953-1954 volume of The Complete Peanuts anthology, the first time they've been reprinted.
    • A few 1950s and early 1960s strips did feature off-panel dialogue from Linus's and Lucy's mother or grandmother. Also, the occasional strip throughout the comic's run had dialogue from radio or TV announcers, although the TV screen was never shown.
    • The cartoons substitute the famous gibberish horn sound for adult speech. The animators' original plan was for adults to have no presence whatsoever like in the comic. This idea was abandoned when it turned out that without some indicator of their existence, all the kids seemed like they were talking to themselves.
      • One animation exception: In This Is America, Charlie Brown, the kids experience historical milestones by, among other things, interacting with the Wright Brothers. (no explanation was given for their displacement in time.)
      • Other animation exceptions include the movies Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown and its "this is a sequel?" What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown?, both of which feature talking adults, though not always seen.
    • In I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown, one scene shows Rerun inside a shopping cart being pushed by his mom, but it's shown to be pushed by an invisible force.
    • Also the original reason was they "literally would not fit" in the close up style of the strip; children would just be at most a half panel instead of being focused on.
    • The WWI flying ace, the Red Baron, may be the only adult that somewhat averts this trope, but he mostly appears in Snoopy's imagination. When he is shown, it's usually from a distance where one can usually faintly make out a scarf, goggles and pilot helmet obscuring his face.
  • The Perishers rarely seems to have adult characters as anything other than The Voice. The gang go off by themselves to the seaside on their holidays with no parental supervision; orphaned Wellington lives with only his dog Boot for company and not once do social services bat an eyelid.

  • During a mission in a Stargate SG-1 based RPG, the team went to an Adventure Town planet with no adults. Lampshaded by the Cunning Linguist wondering how kids managed to function as a working society. Then 3/4 of the team became children. And it turned out that the kids of the planet were the adults, aged down through Applied Phlebotinum that allowed the team to return to adulthood.

    Video Games 
  • Backyard Sports features no adults whatsoever across the franchise. Played with by famous celebrities or sports stars that appear as guest athletes, who are aged down to fit with the all-children cast.
  • Possible in Fable, if you kill every adult in a town. And you can then buy back the affections of the children whose parents you've killed with gifts.
  • You never see any adults in High School Story. Occasionally one shows up for plot-related reasons, but you always hear about it second-hand from other students telling you what the adult said or wants. Then again, they're pretty useless in the game anyway.
  • Downplayed in I. M. Meen. Meen and Gnorris are technically adults, but Meen acts like a spoiled child, and Gnorris is a gnome. There are no normal adults. The two kids are apparently alone and unsupervised at the library.
  • Originally in Rule of Rose there are whole two adults and one sixteen-year old in the Rose Garden Orphanage supervising over twenty children, and by the end they all have mysteriously disappeared without anyone from the outside noticing, leaving the orphans to their own devices.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog games technically have adults, and some of the heroes are over 18, but there are an awful lot of characters, notably Sonic, Tails, Amy and Knuckles, who have no legal parents or guardians, and seem to live entirely on their own. The only character with a known parent is six-year old Cream and her mother Vanilla.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 3 every character is born at the physical age of 10 and only for 10 years before they die, if they even survive that long in battle. When the party meets Guernica Vandham, they're shocked to see his face all wrinkled and are confused when he explains that it's called getting old having never met anyone over the physical age of 20, let alone someone three times that.

  • Homestuck:
    • Mostly played straight. The Beta kids have parents (who are pretty much the only adult human characters in the story), but they exist mainly as non-speaking antagonists early in the comic, and are then killed off fairly early on in the story. They are even drawn without eyes, emphasizing their non-characterness. The kids and trolls all have their guardians die for Sburb-related reasons early on, and it is implied that this is Enforced by the game.
    • Enforced on Alternia, where troll adults are banned from the planet, which is populated only by kids, teens, and their animal guardians.
    • The Alpha kids take this to the extreme - three of them spent nearly their entire lives with no parents or other adults around whatsoever.
  • Despite the central conflict in Weak Hero being between high school kids, there's next to no intervention by their teachers- especially jarring since half of their fights take place in the classroom. And forget about their parents getting involved; they're lucky if they even get shown on-screen at all.

    Web Original 
  • Millsberry was a browser game set in the fictional city of Millsberry. Almost every character depicted was a preteen. Some adult characters did appear to fill-in roles like the librarian or mayor, however they were easily outnumbered by the kids. Teenagers were even more sparingly seen.

    Western Animation 
  • Charlie and Lola: Though they TALK about "Mum" and "Dad," there's never any sign of them, not even Charlie or Lola reacting to them. For example, in the episode "Charlie is Broken" after Charlie breaks his arm, Marv informs him that his father is coming to help him, only for the scene to suddenly change before his father makes it onto the screen.
  • Absolutely no adults appeared on Cleo & Cuquin, not even the parents of the titular characters and their four siblings.
  • Though there are (if mostly evil or incompetent) adults in the Codename: Kids Next Door universe, the rumored goal of the apparent KND Splinter Cell was to wipe them all (good and evil alike) out. However, it turns out to be just cover-up for the KND Galactic branch, much to the ire of some fans.
  • No adults appeared in Ed, Edd n Eddy. The episode "Stop, Look and Ed" entails that the adults are usually at work while the kids are playing and Ed says his dad is very lazy and doesn't do anything but watch TV after work. Later episodes are a little less strict with the rule, showing certain body parts and representing their speech with sound effects, but the only adult to make a full on-screen appearance was Eddy's brother, though he's more of a young adult.
  • In the short-lived Flintstones spinoff Cave Kids, a Muppet Babies or Rugrats-esque show focusing on Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm's "adventures", their parents were nowhere to be seen.
  • Jelly Jamm. The only adults we ever see are the King and Queen.
  • Justice League episode "Kid Stuff" had the heros become 8 years olds in order to exist in a world were adults were magically removed.
  • On Kaeloo, apparently adults (and teenagers) are not allowed in Smileyland. The closest thing we get is Stumpy's mother calling him on the phone in one episode.
  • Taken to extremes in Little Einsteins. Not only do we never see the main characters' parents, there doesn't appear to be any other visible humans.
  • In the TV show Max and Ruby, the parents of Max and Ruby were initially never shown, though their grandma sometimes made an appearance. And while she made appearances, she did not live with them. Ruby does all the mother work. Adults did occasionally appear as background characters but the siblings’ parents were consistently nonexistent. The stage show "Max & Ruby: Bunny Party" lampshades this with a song that is actually called "Where Are the Parents?" According to the song "They're busy making plans, scrubbing pots and pans / Writing letters, folding sweaters..." and "They're not too far way / They're on the sundeck just to relax / Not too far from Ruby and Max." In the 2010s, the series had a retool where Max and Ruby's parents became on-screen characters.
  • Although it's averted in the main series, My Little Pony: Equestria Girls plays this straight with the human world — aside from Principal Celestia and Vice-Principal Luna, the only other adults are cameos with no effect on the plot (Granny Smith, Cheerilee, and Mr. & Mrs. Cake). The absolute lack of parents is puzzling; the total absence of law enforcement after a flying fire demon demolishes the front of the high school totally boggles the mind. More adults are introduced as the series progresses, but parental figures, aside from Granny Smith, remain conspicuously absent, and the only authority figures seen are school staff, camp counselors, a music festival security guard, and an amusement park administrator.
  • PJ Masks: The only regular adult character is the Teacher, but even he only appears during the daytime scenes at the start and end of episodes. And technically there are Master Fang and Flossy Flash, but they are fictional characters within the show's universe.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls, a squadron of broccoli-shaped aliens attempts to conquer Townsville by contaminating the broccoli harvest, hypnotizing anyone who consumed the vegetable. This leads to the trope, since all the city's children consider it too disgusting to eat.
  • Rainbow Brite: Rainbow Brite and the Color Kids didn't seem to have any parents. Justified as they seem to be Ambiguously Human, aside from Rainbow who was a human orphan named "Wisp" once.
  • Scooby-Doo:
    • Those teens travel all around the world with their talking dog, capturing nut jobs in Halloween costumes. Don't they have to go to school (or homeschool)? Do their parents care out late they stay out? Do their parents even care about feeding them dinner? Do they even know or care where they are? Apparently not. Not that it's ever clearly established how old they actually are outside of supplementary material. The original reason was that they were a music band traveling around during summer vacation, however that was scrapped in development of the original cartoon and they never bothered to explain where their parents were.
    • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, in fact does bring their parents in; they very much do not approve (also, Frank Welker voices Daphne's dad. And he still does Freddy. Don't think about that too much). The final episode of Mystery Incorporated features the gang going off on a cross-country road trip, in the style of the original series, immediately after graduating high school, which may retroactively justify all the franchise's previous uses of this trope.
  • Shimmer and Shine: The genies are still fairly young, even if they are magical, so where are their parents? And what about the human kids Leah and Zak? Wouldn’t their parents be suspicious of their kids running off or all the strange things going on? Heck, the only adults (or maybe older teens) on the show are Sameera and Zeta, and they’re not even human (Sameera is a genie and Zeta is a witch).
    • Also, it’s implied that Shimmer and Shine live alone, since they decorated their palace and Leah’s bottle by themselves.
    • If the genies do indeed have parents, wouldn’t they be concerned if Zeta did something bad to them?
  • In The Simpsons when Homer and Grampa distribute their "re-vitalizer" to Springfield, adults excuse themselves to their bedrooms, leaving the town children wondering if the grown-ups have become reverse-vampires.
  • In the South Park episode "The Wacky Molestation Adventure", the children all accuse their parents of molestation, getting all of them arrested at once. Naturally, without anyone paying the bills for water, power or even food, the town goes to hell in a few hours.
  • This is blatant in Strawberry Shortcake, especially in the 2003 version where the characters are designed, and act more like real kids than the other versions. In this version, Strawberry Shortcake and Apple Dumpling are sisters, yet no parents are seen or mentioned. Strawberry doesn't look older than eight prior to her aging up however she is in charge of a toddler. Whenever the characters visit places everyone looks under thirteen but despite this they can drive and they hold jobs. An episode involving Strawberry meeting an old friend Lime Lite has some implications that they do have parents somewhere, as we see the two as toddlers in a nursery and later Lime mentions she has to move away without it apparently being her decision, however otherwise nothing suggests adults exist.
  • Summer Camp Island takes place in a summer camp where all the main characters are children. The camp councillors are teenagers who may-or-may-not be legally adults (Susie turns fifteen mid-series, but she's actually over a century old, and the other councillors seem the same age as her).
  • Winnie the Pooh should be mentioned here. In none of the original Disney animated shorts are parents, with the exception of Kanga, present, however, being a stuffed animal, she might not qualify. However, this is subverted in The New Adventures, as Christopher Robin's mom, as well as other adults, appear in the animated series. Hell, she, and a theater usher appear in just the very first episode, "Pooh Oughta Be In Pictures". If Kanga applies, then so does Lumpy's mother, deemed "Mama Heffalump", in Pooh's Heffalump Movie, and in My Friends Tigger & Pooh. The original whole point of Winnie the Pooh was that it was the world Christopher Robin had created to play with his stuffed animals in. He's often away, of course, having other claims on his time, and at the end of the last book he's growing up. It's sort of a precursor to Toy Story, only without a real-world context.
  • Young Justice had a similar episode, "Misplaced", where a group of evil sorcerers creates two separate worlds, one with adults and no children and one with children and no adults, based on the "World Without Grown-Ups" storyline.