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Wouldn't Hurt a Child
aka: Would Not Hurt A Child

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His employers thought he was the only one who could kill a kid. They were wrong.

"No women, no kids."
Léon, The Professional

Many adult viewers and writers are upset about kids being harmed. Kid viewers aren't, but then, kids aren't the ones doing the writing, are they? As a result, many characters on TV Wouldn't Hurt a Child.

This is often done simply by not showing kids at all in action and suspense shows, but sometimes it's rather conspicuous when characters seemingly go out of their way to not hurt kids, or circumstances happen to conveniently align themselves so that kids don't get hurt. For example, a slasher movie where the slasher just happens to not encounter children in hiding, or the kids manage to be rescued just in time, while the adults and teens get killed. It's also pretty common that when Even Evil Has Standards, not harming children is one of them.

This does not mean that the act cannot be referred to in the story. You'll hear characters in plenty of films and TV shows talking about the antagonist harming or killing children. That is much different from actually showing it on-screen.

In fact, when this trope does get averted and children do get harmed, it can often be shocking for the audience.

See Also Wouldn't Hit a Girl for the female-specific version of this trope and You Wouldn't Hit a Guy with Glasses, for the now much less common standard of never hitting someone who's wearing glasses. See Friend to All Children for those adults who not only don't hurt kids but will actively protect them (even if the adults in question are clearly evil). For video games, see Hide Your Children, where children aren't even portrayed so as to avoid the implications that they could be hurt. For a more specific form of Wouldn't Hurt a Child, in which very young children are shielded from danger by the plot due to society's squeamishness about hurting babies, see Improbable Infant Survival.

A common subversion is when a character who goes by this motto has to face a Creepy Child, a Child Soldier, or worse an Enfant Terrible.

Played with in the cases of Villainous Parental Instinct, when it isn't that the person wouldn't hurt a child, but that they won't hurt their child.

May be a form of Heroic Vow.

Oddly enough, it's also Truth in Television as many gangs, such as the Mexican Mafia, brutally murder their members that hurt children (likewise, La eMe's rules of conduct prohibit members from being child killers or child molesters). This even extends to prison, where inmates, or even prison-based gangs, that welcome robbers and murderers into their fold will not tolerate someone who hurts a kid. In fact, killing one of these people often results in being well-liked by the other inmates (people imprisoned for child molestation are often put into solitary confinement, not as punishment, but for their own protection, due to a combination of this trope and Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil). Of course, this can also be seen as a Moral Myopia, as there have been criminal gangs (especially Mexican drug cartels) and terrorist organizations (such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda) that use children for prostitution, drug trafficking, assassinations, and other criminal activities, mainly because children are the least likely people who would commit criminal acts, thus catching other criminal gangs, military, and police forces off-guard.

Can overlap with Pragmatic Villainy, as while a villain may have no personal qualms with harming a child, they are well aware most of the world does. Harming a child would only complicate their plans by creating more enemies than they may be equipped to handle, and/or alienate potential and current allies.

May cross paths with What Measure Is a Non-Human?, where a character may question if killing a creature/machine with the age or mentality of a child would be the same as killing a human child.

Contrast Child Hater and Would Hurt a Child.

Examples and subversions: (All inversions/aversions go under Would Hurt a Child)

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    Anime & Manga 
  • The three assassins hired by Takaoka in the Assassination Island Arc of Assassination Classroom were this, swapping out the lethal synthetic virus they were supposed to use on Class 3-E with one that only caused an accelerated form of food poisoning and would become inactive a few hours later, especially since the knew Takaoka had no intentions of giving Class 3-E the antidote. In their words, no matter what he paid them, it wasn't enough for them to be known as child killers.
  • Attack on Titan: Jean hates intentionally hurting children, even if they're enemy combatants, and several times he's gone out of his way to protect them.
  • Black Cat:
    • Train Heartnet has been an assassin for many years.....but he really can't bring himself to hurt children. In the manga, he describes how he was about to shoot a man, but he realized the man was holding a young girl. He stopped, and couldn't pull the trigger, so he was shot, instead. He lived, but this is part of the major Heel–Face Turn he underwent prior to the events of the series. The presence of Saya Minatsuki only instills that even more.
    • Train's Evil Mentor, Zagine, was this as well, to the point where he also refused to take on any jobs where the target had young children. One of his clients, knowing this, omitted any information on Train himself (who, at the time, was 10 years old) when giving Zagine a job to kill his parents. As a result, Zagine ended up taking Train under his wing, perhaps out of guilt for leaving him without his parents.
  • Bleach:
    • Ukitake. When battling Lilinette he kept doing things like playing keep-away with her sword when it was fairly obvious that he could have just killed her without the slightest effort.
    • On the other hand, although Kyoraku also saw Lilinette — who claimed Arrancar don't age — as a child, he attacks Wonderweiss without hesitation when he sees him stab Ukitake.
    • Rangiku is fairly hesitant to fight the child-like Wonderweiss, although it could be more due to his playing with a dragonfly in the middle of a battle instead of fighting (at first)
    • Speaking of Wonderweiss, Yamamoto probably wouldn't have hesitated to fight him, but he did state he was glad Wonderweiss used his release form so he was fighting a bizarre monster instead of a kid.
    • Ichigo is hesitant to hurt Ururu during their training match, and even after seeing her Super-Strength in action, decides to only give her a tap on the head to clear the requirements. He somehow ends up grazing her face with his fist and Ururu kicks him away but manages to pass the test by restoring his spiritual energy.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Aiho Yomikawa absolutely refuses to fight anybody who is a child or teenager, even if they have superpowers. One of the only times she broke this rule is when she punched her adopted son Accelerator after he came home from World War III for worrying her.
  • This might be the reason why, in the anime adaptation of Chrono Crusade, Azmaria is the only member of the main cast to survive to the end of the series. Besides the villain, at least, and Joshua — but he suffers extreme mental damage in the process. That being said, it does show the deaths of another group of children because of their powers (who are minor enough to not have individual names).
  • Daimos: Do not even think of hurting a child in front of Kazuya Ryuuzaki lest you have your face rearranged.
    • In Episode 2, a child got killed during the enemy air raid. Kazuya snapped, instantly got in his Humongous Mecha and utterly tore apart the Robeast enemy.
  • Darker than Black: Hei, extreme Anti-Hero or not, gets very protective of kids under his care for any reason, particularly girls the same age as his sister. Call it unresolved issues. While other contractors harm children, Hei does not.
  • In Death Note, the titular Artifact of Doom has a couple of rules to protect children.
    • The Death Note has no effect on people under 780 days old (two years and fifty days).
    • Shinigami cannot directly give a Death Note to someone under 6 years old.
  • There's been at least some censorship to not show kids getting hurt. An episode of Dragon Ball Z was censored in the US release to cut out a brief bit of animation where Gohan was punched by a villain, instead merely implying the punch. Take notice that this was when Gohan was a helpless 4-year-old who'd never had a fighting lesson in his life. He gets punched plenty on camera after he learns to punch back.
    • After seeing the fight between Trunks and Goten, World Champion Hercule knew he stood no chance against Trunks in the next match. Thus, he conspicuously offered Trunks a free shot. When Trunks' blow knocked Hercule out of the ring, the spectators believed that Hercule had offered the free shot because, as the World Champion, he clearly would have easily beaten Trunks otherwise, beleving him to follow this trope. Even Trunks was unsure if Hercule was really weak, or if he was actually very strong and threw the fight out of mercy.
    • The reason Cooler let an infant Goku live. Note, however, this was mainly pragmatism on his part and he figured, at the time, that killing Goku wouldn't be beneficial to him. He was wrong.
    • Dragon Ball Super has Emperor Pilaf's horrified reaction to the suggestion that he drop baby Pan out of his ship: "I am a supervillain, not a monster!"
  • In Fate/Apocrypha, Atalanta is utterly horrified when just seconds after shooting Jack the Ripper, she finds out she is a little girl. Then, even though Jack is a psychotic murderer, Atalanta tries to protect her from the other heroes. Finding out Jack is a wraith who is cursed to kill does nothing to dissuade her. When Jeanne finally exorcises Jack and puts her to rest, Atalanta goes mad, declaring Jeanne the ultimate evil for killing a child and vowing to destroy her. This stems from her own Dark and Troubled Past and her desire to create a world where every child can be loved.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • This is the trait that distinguished Wamuu as a Noble Demon with honor and decency amongst his fellow vampires.
    • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: JoJolion: Josuke's hesitation to hurt a zombie baby during the Blue Hawaii arc is what makes him lose the fight and get temporarily controlled by Dolomite.
  • Kindergarten Wars: Unlike most of the assassins, Natsuki and Haruo refuse to kill children. They are hired to kill the teachers and, when they see that they have Lyla with them, they put her to safety before fighting the teachers. This ends up saving their lives, since the teachers of Kindergarten Noir only need to kill those who threaten the children.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2016): Under the reign of Midna's father, it was policy to execute any light-dwellers who entered the the Twilight Realm, knowing Hyrule still treated it as a penal colony and thus only sent their worst. However, when the royal gardener stumbled upon Link's displaced hometown, the thought of possibly executing children and the elderly disgusted him so much that they chose not to report their arrival to the royal family at all and instead covertly helped them get by in their new environment, as did any other Twili who later discovered them.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
  • Madara Uchiha in Naruto informs an old and enraged Onoki that the only reason he went easy on him when he was younger, was because adults shouldn't fight kids seriously. It doesn't save Onoki or the other Kage from the beat down they get now.
  • Now and Then, Here and There: King Hamdo employs an army of children so his enemies will be hesitant to fight back. Unfortunately, he also utilizes the child soldiers as war fodder.
  • One Piece:
    • In the Wano arc, one of the few redeeming qualities Black Maria displays is that she won't harm children. When the Animal Kingdom Pirates capture eight-year-old Momonosuke, most of them beat him down, but Black Maria chooses to treat his injuries instead.
    • Exploited by the World Government with the Seraphim. Several of the opponents who face them aren't willing to try to kill them. Against opponents as strong as they are, holding back is likely to be deadly.
  • Pokémon: The Original Series: In "The Totodile Duel", Ash and Misty battle to see who gets to keep Totodile (as they both threw a ball at it, but it was impossible to determine whose ball actually caught it). Ash uses Pikachu for the first round, and Misty uses Togepi, knowing Pikachu couldn't bring himself to harm the baby Pokémon.
  • Double Subverted in the Sengoku Basara anime. Mitsuhide uses the semi-conscious Ranmaru as a human shield, taunting Kojuro that he wouldn't kill a child. Kojuro tells him that regardless of age, Ranmaru is one of Nobunaga's generals and therefore his enemy and charges in. The declaration causes Mitsuhide to abandon Ranmaru as a shield, allowing Kojuro to defeat Mitsuhide. He then lets Ranmaru off with a stern warning.
  • Lina Inverse from Slayers really gets angry when kids are endangered — i.e., when Rezo petrifies a kid in the first season, she gets pissed and goes to face him despite knowing that it's a trap. In NEXT, she has a major Freak Out when she thinks that she's killed a little girl who turns out to be an Undead Child from Sairaag, and Sylphiel has to give her a Cool-Down Hug.
  • The Sonic X dub (like many of 4Kids Entertainment dub jobs) is famous for the editing out of at least three instances of violence inflicted upon children: The first instance being that of Maria (who not only had an immune disorder in the original but was shot and killed by a GUN soldier who showed considerable angst about it for decades afterwards — while in the dub she was merely "taken away"). This was closely followed by Christopher Thorndyke in a rather infamous scene which was cut apart repeatedly to edit out the fact that Shadow was throwing and smashing him into walls (this resulting in the kid apparently passing out for no reason much to the confusion of a 7-year-old audience), and finally with the death of a teenage revolutionary making a suicide run into the Metarex fleet (this time 4kids actually edited out a gravestone in one image).
    • 4Kids starts to get the hint after a while, but Chris still gets another instance of this in the final series whereas Metarex slashes him during an escape attempt. The single drop of blood was cut in order to further the illusion that he'd been knocked out — not stabbed.
    • Eggman also never wanted to hurt Chris, and in fact, when one of his robots went haywire and actually was about to kill him, Eggman aided Sonic in shutting it down because the thought of having a child's blood on his hand was too horrific even for him.
  • Soul Eater:
    • Mifune has a soft spot for children, and has an iron-clad rule never to kill one, or allow one to be killed if he can prevent it. His Morality Pet, Angela, is a Cute Witch he is fostering. He also attempts to avoid killing Black Star (a teenager), deliberately holding back until Mifune found the 'assassin' to be a Worthy Opponent. In the anime, Mifune tries to kill Black*Star because he is at risk of trying to become a Kishin while in the manga they both have a silent agreement to not hold back in a Duel to the Death.
    • Black*Star himself also obeys this trope: He walks away from his first battle with Mifune when he realizes Mifune's "witch" was a little girl.
  • Suitengu from Speed Grapher, despite being absolutely ruthless towards adults, doesn't hurt kids. An example: a little daughter offers her money to pay the father's debts; Suitengu leaves. A father offers her daughter to pay his debts: bad idea.
  • Vash in Trigun, being an All-Loving Hero Technical Pacifist, is particularly unwilling to hurt children. It's just not going to happen. Wolfwood the priest does kill people, though not in front of Vash, but taking care of children is the most important thing to him ever, so as much as he believes in necessary sacrifices he is definitely this. The first time we see his full armory unleashed in the anime, he's firing Guns Akimbo and shouting over the noise, "I'M NOT GOING TO LET ANY MORE CHILDREN SUFFER!!! NEVER AGAIN!"
    • Even Wolfwood doesn't know what he will and won't do. Anime Wolfwood shoots what looks like a child to save Vash. Manga Wolfwood comes across as willing to sacrifice pretty much anything if he had reason to believe it was worthwhile. But children last of anything.
    • When he chooses Vash's side they then go straight to the orphanage where he grew up to intercept the assassin team sent there to punish him; if they'd been late or he'd messed up, the kids would have been crisped.
  • Sensui might have been counting on this trope in the Chapter Black arc of YuYu Hakusho with Amanuma. It didn't work. And Kurama, the one who killed Amanuma, was pissed afterwards.
  • Gamma Akutabi, of Zombie Powder, is led to believe he is fighting a child, and so only uses his left hand. He's likely about to lose until he finds out it's actually an old man who just looks like a child. He holds back like this specifically because he has a soft spot for women and children.

    Comic Books 
  • In Avengers Academy, the Rhino (Spider-Man villain) refuses to kill the teen heroes under Electro's orders.
  • Batman: The first thing Jason Todd did as the new Red Hood was intimidate a bunch of drug dealers into cutting him in on their profits, while also making it perfectly clear that selling their product to children would no longer be tolerated. In general, Jason seems to have a soft spot for kids, likely because of his own parents’ history of substance abuse.
  • In "Role Models," a story from Batman: Black and White, a child kidnapper who calls himself "Playground" targets prepubescent girls. When one of his victims frees herself, she rushes off to find a superheroine to save her, but finds Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn instead. Ivy is initially uninterested in helping, but Harley recognizes that the girl is genuinely hurt. When Playground himself shows up and tries to take the child back, the women give him a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown for the ages. By the time Batman finally shows up, he has to rescue Playground from their rage. Harley and Ivy may be evil, but harming kids is too much even for them.
  • Deadpool:
    • The eponymous Merc' with a Mouth still has a few lines he won't cross. One of them is hurting kids. In X-Force, he is the only member of the team to openly declare that killing the child incarnation of Apocalypse was a borderline Moral Event Horizon for the team as a whole and that he for one is unhappy about it.
    • This trope also plays an important part in the Evil Deadpool storyline, where Deadpool is battling a composite version of himself who has absolutely no scruples. Evil Deadpool is out to prove he's infinitely worse than Deadpool, and Deadpool is trying to figure out what Evil Deadpool's next move is going to be so he can head him off. The problem is that he's approaching it from the wrong direction by looking at it from only his perspective. Then one of his head voices quietly tells him to stop trying to think of something he would do and to instead try to think of something he wouldn't do. There's a pause, then the horrified expression that comes over Deadpool reveals that he's figured it out: Evil Deadpool is going to kill a child.
    • Deadpool once accepted a pro bono job where he went after a psychiatrist who'd taken advantage of a young girl who was a patient of his, psychologically manipulating her to be vulnerable to his advances and having sex with her multiple times. The girl ended up killing herself, and Deadpool was completely serious throughout the entire story arc, with none of his joking or breaking-the-fourth-wall antics. He psychologically toyed with the psychiatrist, showing up pretending to be seeking help but subtly always turning the session towards topics that made the psychiatrist very uncomfortable. Begging for his life didn't help. If you're going to harm a child, you'd better pray Deadpool doesn't find out about it.
      Psychiatrist: No, you have to understand! She wanted to be with me, she begged me to do it!
      Deadpool: Really? Kind of like the way you're begging me right now?
    • In his 2019 Annual, Deadpool actually goes to the Dream Realm and tries to fight Nightmare, a reality warper and borderline god of that reality, because a kid wrote him a letter offering him what little money he had ($7) to help stop the constant traumatizing nightmares he kept having. When Nightmare ends up showing Wade the dreams in question, he realizes the true root of these nightmares is the kid's neighbor sexually abusing him whenever he is babysitting him. Needless to say, Wade immediately rushes back and beats the man to a bloody pulp, and shoves him down a flight of stairs before the police show up.
  • From Doom 2099, when Doom was approaching two terrified teenagers. "Calm yourselves. Doom does not harm children."
  • Fantastic Four: the Mad Thinker is perfectly willing to try and kill the Four. During a Villain Team-Up with the Wizard, the latter kidnaps Franklin Richards (Reed and Sue's son) and is getting ready to vivisect him to discover the secret of his amazing powers. The Mad Thinker, enraged, immediately terminates the partnership and leads Franklin's Uncle Ben to the Wizard's secret base, just in time to save him. Oddly enough, and most likely a case of Depending on the Writer, this goes against the grain for the Wizard's character, as during a story in the 1970s when the Wizard and several other supervillains attacked the Fantastic Four's headquarters and took Franklin and Alicia Masters hostage. Reed Richards demanded to know where they were, to which the Wizard responded: "Both are safe, Richards. I do not wage war on blind women and children." Richards took him at his word on this.
  • The Flash has the Rogues. One of their rules is that they won't kill women and children, with the exception of Mirror Master, who will try to refrain from killing women, but still definitely won't hurt a child. This is part of their Pragmatic Villainy. They know that doing certain things will just bring all sorts of trouble upon them. Their business model is based on there being Always a Bigger Fish for the heroes to concentrate on.
  • Hunter Rose, the first Grendel had this as one of his personal standards, even eliminating child prostitution in New York upon becoming mob boss. In fact, when facing off against Batman during his trip to Gotham, the accidental endangerment of a child he was holding hostage was what encouraged him to withdraw and go home. He himself has a Morality Pet in his adoptive daughter Stacy Palumbo, who later arranges to have him killed.
  • Exploited in Insufferable by Malvolia, who straps a bunch of infants to himself, noting that Galahad can't do anything to him "without something very fragile and very precious going squish". Nocturnus incapacitates him by strangling and suspending him from a skylight.
  • One of the very, very few standards Johnny the Homicidal Maniac has is to not hurt children. His victims are all teenagers/adults, although he ends up traumatizing a few children (especially Squee) in the process.
  • Young Loki found (for their great surprise) that they're this trope now. They had the perfect plan and would get away with it too, but it involved driving Wiccan to suicide and they just didn't have the heart to go through with it. Later the Angelic army learnt this the hard way when Loki promptly disposed of them after they refused to take the Last Chance to Quit offer at the end of a speech that pressed at almost tedious lengths that what they intended to do involved baby killing.
  • The Punisher: Played straight with Frank, but it depends on the situation. He'd never hurt a child and always plans his attacks very carefully so that no innocents are harmed. Once, when he thought he was responsible for the death of a small child, he had a gun to his head and was ready to pull the trigger when he saw evidence that convinced him that he could not possibly have done it. Another time, he had a clear shot at a teenage hood who had just won parole from juvenile hall, but upon seeing him do something charitable (confirming what the parole officer had told the judge) he changed his mind and let him live. However, if you're a gang banger or a child soldier and you start shooting at him, his reflexes are going to take over and he's not going to ask for your ID before returning fire. He won't lose any sleep over it afterwards, either.
  • Played for Black Comedy in Rat-Man: in spite of being a rather violent Papa Wolf, Janus Valker didn't kill or even touch his son's bully as he was just another kid... Until his 18th birthday, at which point Valker crashed his birthday party and killed him.
  • Spider-Man: Dr. Octopus has no problem murdering adults, but due to his abusive childhood seeing someone harm a kid is his Berserk Button. This is somewhat Depending on the Writer, since he once tried to wipe out 95% of Earth's population.
  • In the Street Fighter comics, a Flashback reveals that while training a young Chun-Li, Gen killed Geki in self-defense. Unfortunately, due to the assassin's code he followed, he was also honor-bound to permanently silence Chun-Li so that there would be no witnesses. Gen could not bring himself to murder an innocent child, which is what ultimately led to him abandoning his life as an assassin and pursuing a more peaceful existence.
  • Superman: The Toyman considers himself a Friend to All Children, warped as his perceptions of such a term may be, and would never dream of harming them. His whole motivation is that he wants to protect kids from the injustices inflicted on them by society — however, his schemes often inadvertently place the very children he claims to be protecting in even more danger.
    Toyman: "No, I wouldn't hurt children. I love them, they're my friends! Adults are the ones I hate."
  • Wonder Woman (1987): The Sangtee Empire is a brutal intergalactic empire built on a backbone of chattel slavery that has strange morals when it comes to children. There are child slaves but they're basically free-roaming urchins the slave drivers won't touch until they become adults. The ruling race the kreel have supplanted natural procreation with artificial but are loathe to abort a fetus that devolves into a female despite female citizens being illegal, instead they have the female child raised in seclusion as a male and only allowed to enter society once they can convincingly pass as male.
  • Played with by X-23. When she was still under the control of the Facility, she very much did kill children. It wasn't by her choice, and even if she resisted those orders, the Facility had the means of forcing her to do so using the trigger scent. However, the entire reason she was finally able to escape was that she did refuse to kill Henry Sutter during Rice's hostile takeover of the project, and she makes it explicit to Valeria Richards that whatever her past, she doesn't kill children anymore.
  • X-Men villains The Juggernaut and Black Tom Cassidy had been partners and close friends for almost their entire careers, but that all changed during M-Day when Black Tom killed a kid, something that was too much for the Juggernaut. He confronted his former friend and convinced him to turn himself in, saying, "He was a kid, Tom. An' you an' me, for all our faults, we used ta be better than that." Tom did indeed seem to be sorry (after all, he had gone insane after his powers went haywire and turned him into a living tree, which the effects of M-Day undid). As he told his friend, "That wasn't me, Cain, you know that. I wasn't in my right mind... You've got to understand... that mad life, before... it was like some dream."

    Fan Works 
  • Averted by CADMUS in Ben 10: Unlimited. Like in canon, Dr. Hamilton (despite being a friend to the Kryptonians for years) betrayed Superman and Supergirl when he stole DNA from Kara (who was a young teenager at the time) while giving her medical care and used it to clone Galatea for CADMUS. Then he lied about it to her face when she, Four Arms, Green Arrow and Question came to ask about it.
  • The Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) fanfiction Abraxas: Empty Fullness, one-shot "Ain't That a Kick in the Head", reveals that some of the Titans aren't above killing another Titan's pre-existing offspring in order to get their own shot at mating with them — this is a behaviour which occurs in several real-life mammals. Rodan is not one of the Titans who would do this, and he considers it barbaric to boot.
  • Another Brother starts when Hakoda finds a gravely injured Zuko as a child. Despite deciding that there should be no Fire Nation survivors, Hakoda can't get it in himself to kill a child. He instead takes Zuko in as his own.
  • Silver Spoon of Bad Future Crusaders, despite being a burglar and an assassin for hire who started out as a Boxed Crook for committing some undisclosed crime, is shown to have a serious soft spot for children. Not only does she express disgust for a fellow Boxed Crook who was in prison for killing his child and point out that she planned to kill him afterward for it, she also seems to be genuinely fond of the young colt Clear Rivers.
  • The Blood of the Covenant: While the mercenary hired to kill the prince of the Fire Nation is more than willing to kill a member of the Fire Nation's royal family, she's shocked and horrified when she learns her target is one-year-old Zuko. Harmony instead kidnaps him, and she (along with her second-in-command, Lee) spend several months looking for a good foster home for him, finally placing him with Bato of the Southern Water Tribe (who changes Zuko's name to Kallik).
  • In the Calvin & Hobbes: The Series Made-for-TV Movie "Invasion", Calvin comes across two snipers — one of whom believes in this, and another who puts his orders first. This ties in to the mind game he plays with them.
  • In Dark Spectrum Public Enemy, Rainbow doesn’t hurt Spike after he turns down her offer to be her sidekick and vows to stop her, instead dropping him off in a bush. Later subverted when she decides to send a huge rainstorm onto Ponyville, she knows Scootaloo might get hurt, but dismisses it as collateral damage.
  • In Fate/Parallel Fantasia, while False Caster is battling True Berserker, she gets a shot at killing Ilyasviel and thus winning the battle; but ultimately, she can't bring herself to harm a child.
  • In the Friday the 13th fic "Guardian Angels", Jason Voorhees’ alleged refusal to harm children is taken a step further when he and his lover/partner Lisa (who debuted in "The Strange Good Girl") not only save a little girl from being sacrificed by a cult, but actually take it upon themselves to protect the girl until a contact can return her to civilisation.
  • In Here Comes The New Boss, Nemean was a Case 53 who was savage even before inheriting the Butcher mantle. However she also had a strong maternal instinct, so she never allowed the Teeth to hurt any children and in the present has become very protective of the teenage Taylor, Spitfire, and Ironclad. In the past, this led her to commit the "lambskin murders", where she hunted down a ring of pedophiles and skinned them alive.
  • If Wishes Were Ponies: While Discord is (mostly) reformed by this point, he still can't resist playing tricks on anyone he can, with many of his pranks scaring his targets. However, when it comes to kids, he only plays tricks that are either harmless (i.e. dropping a snowball on Harry that melted seconds later) or beneficial (i.e. he gave Scootaloo functional wings and later turned Luna Lovegood into a Crystal-Night Pony). After all, hurting kids is never funny.
  • The Last Seidr: While SHIELD is very curious about exactly who/what Harry is (to the point that the Avengers actively try to keep him away from them), Fury never does anything that would hurt twelve-year-old Harry (the worst thing he does the whole fic is interrogate Harry when he first arrives in the MCU, which Harry isn't phased by).
  • let's go out with a bang!:
    • One of the perks of the participants of Season 53 being seen as Just Kids compared to everyone else is that considerable effort is made to protect them during the lockdown. When one of their names comes up as a potential sacrifice, Enoshima Junko steps up to volunteer in their place, making clear just how disgusted they are by anyone even considering killing any of the youngest class's members.
    • Zig-Zagged with the mastermind, who very much does not want any of the 53rd Class members to die, but believes their hand is being forced by the circumstances. Upon realizing that Enoshima brought Himiko and Korekiyo to their private meeting, they blame them for putting the kids in harm's way. Later, their guilt over setting them up to be sacrificed spurs them to try and ensure that the rest of the class survives by handing them a way out of the building.
  • Mastermind: Rise of Anarchy: When the League of Villains moves against Aldera Middle School, they're extremely careful to avoid any children getting caught in the crossfire. This is mostly Pragmatic Villainy on their part; killing any students would muddle the message they're trying to send by eliminating the Asshole Victims who turned a blind eye to Quirkless students like Midoriya being bullied and tried covering up the evidence.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: As revealed in chapter 26 of the sequel, Picking Up the Pieces, Prince Blueblood would not murder Chrysalis's infant daughter, partly because they were an innocent, and partly because he respected the child's father and refused to kill their offspring, no matter who the mother was.
  • re:Bound (RWBY): At age 9 Neo was forced to kill an entire family in their sleep. She refused to kill the little girl but, due to her aura bond, she was forced to anyway.
  • Betelgeuse is this in Say It Thrice, which is set after the events of the movie. He is genuinely horrified to learn that he nearly entered a marriage contract with a 12-year-old, having not realized just how young Lydia really was at the time. In his own words, children should be protected.
  • Second Generation: For all his hostility towards Batman and associates, Jason is disgusted when people dare to suggest he would harm Dick Grayson's newborn twin daughters. It goes so far that he finds himself reluctant to kill Nightwing since the babies would be left orphaned.
  • The Second Try: One of the soldiers Rei encounters during the invasion of the Geofront specifically chose perimeter patrols because he thought he wouldn't encounter and have to kill one of the teenage pilots. Aki, being included in the kill order due to simply being near Rei, ups the ante. He repeatedly refuses to shoot her, even after being threatened to be court-martialed by his superior, and when the latter decides to do it himself, he finally opens fire... on him. He unfortunately isn't fast enough to eliminate his remaining squad mate before suffering the same fate.
  • Italian mob boss Fanciullo Cattivo of the Shadowchasers Series has this as one of the most important rules for anyone working for him, and has put out large bounties on the heads of known human traffickers who target children. Shadowchasers: Conspiracy suggests he may have sworn an oath in the past to protect children.
  • Spider-Ninja:
  • TamaKoichi: While Yukako wants to get back at the Stand User that turn her boyfriend Koichi into a Tamagachi, which can easily die if not constantly cared for, she has no interest in fighting a little girlnote . Instead, she uses Love Deluxe to grab the collectible the girl stole earlier from Koichi and use it as a hostage to get her to turn him back to normal.
  • What the Cat Dragged In: The Akuma Peacemonger deliberately avoids hurting children, using his power to send Rose and Juleka out of the line of fire and refuses to hurt Ladybug or Chat Noir to get their Miraculous. This is unsurprising because Peacemonger is Tony Stark, having been akumatized out of anger that a pair of teenagers are forced to be the only defense against Hawkmoth and that S.H.I.E.L.D. is deliberately keeping themselves and the Avengers out of Paris so they wouldn't get akumatized in the first place.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Batman: Under the Red Hood, the titular Red Hood takes control of the drug trade. Besides giving himself 40% of the profits, he also gives them a new rule: No dealing to children.
  • In The Incredibles, Mirage is totally on-board with Syndrome's "kill all supers" plan... up until he sends missiles after a plane with two kids on it. That, and the disregard he shows for her life minutes later, prompts her to betray him and help the Incredibles. She's apparently the only one in Syndrome's whole operation with this principle.
  • Sunset Shimmer in My Little Pony: Equestria Girls. She orders Snips and Snails to kidnap Twilight Sparkle's dragon-turned-puppy assistant Spike to her as ransom for entry back to Equestria. When Twilight orders Sunset not to hurt Spike, she answers that she wouldn't dream of it.
  • At the end of Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf - Mission Incredible: Adventures on the Dragon's Trail, Wolnie and Wilie help a badly injured Wolffy destroy the gate to Goat Village with a cannon, and Weslie and the other goats don't know what to do since they don't want to hurt the child Wilie or the female Wolnie. However, Wolffy was only pretending to be hurt so that he could use Wolnie and Wilie to aid him in catching the goats.
  • In Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Lex Luthor conspicuously avoids killing or injuring Toyman/Hiro Okamura, instead simply settling for destroying his equipment, even though he's the only other person smart enough to stop the Kryptonite meteor about to hit Earth and that by now Lex had gotten so crazy from Kryptonite injections he wanted the thing to hit the Earth so he could rebuild civilization afterward.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 14 Blades stars Donnie Yen as a Ming Dynasty assassin whose job is to eliminate Imperial traitors, but he would leave children of his supposed targets alive. In his very first scene, he effortlessly kills two dozen guards, executes his target, then sees his target's wife and kids... and responds by turning away and leaving.
  • This is what separates Miss Hannigan from her brother in Annie: during the film's climax, Rooster runs off after Annie after she ruins his get-rich-quick scheme, and Miss Hannigan says in panic "He's really gonna kill her!" and chases after him telling him to leave Annie alone because "She's just a baby!"
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp has Bill Foster, who is helping the Ghost steal Hank Pym's technology in order to save her life. While they end up doing some fairly morally questionable things to achieve that goal, Foster does not approve of harming children, and tells the Ghost that if she goes through with her plan of taking Scott's daughter Cassie hostage to force his cooperation, she's on her own. After hearing this, the Ghost backs down.
  • In Apocalypto, the bad guys sacrifice the male prisoners, sell their women as slaves, and leave their children unharmed back in their destroyed home village. In Real Life, the Mayas did not have any problem sacrificing women and children. But again, they did this to urban, noble women and children, not random hunter-gatherers from the jungle...
  • Blazing Saddles: Jim was forced to kill an insane number of challengers back when he was known as the Fastest Gun in the West, but threw his guns down and walked away the time he was challenged by a 6-year-old. For taking the high road, he wound up Shot in the Ass by the kid. (The way he tells his story is a parody and subversion of Al Denton's backstory in The Twilight Zone (1959)'s episode "Mr. Denton on Doomsday" where the last challenger Denton shoots turns out to be a 16-year-old boy.)
  • Blood Quantum: Bumper is in charge of executing infected refugees, but can't bring himself to kill a little girl who has been bitten by a zombie. Traylor does it for him.
  • As cruel and contemptible as James "Mickey" Hughes was toward his wife, Francine, in the made-for-TV adaptation of The Burning Bed, Mickey is never seen raising a fist toward any of his children; all of his brutality is directed at his hapless wife.
  • Cargo (2013): Zigzagged. Vic does put Thoomi in a cage to use as bait, but when he tracks them down and looks poised to harm Rosie in order to avenge losing Lorraine, he ultimately can't do it and lets them go.
  • The 1989 crime thriller Cohen and Tate, with Roy Scheider and Adam Baldwin as the titular mob hitmen who kidnap a 9-year-old boy, Travis, from Witness Protection. The boy manipulates the growing antagonism between the psychopathic younger killer and Scheider's jaded older man, appealing to Cohen's long-buried humanity in order to avoid being shot. At the end, with Tate dead and Cohen surrounded by police, he is still unable to pull the trigger on Travis.
  • Come Out and Play: The protagonists find that an island is inhabited by evil children. A surviving adult explains that even though he had a gun, he couldn't bring himself to hurt the children — no one could.
  • Die Hard with a Vengeance has Anvilicious moments about this: the line "children may find it [the bomb]" is uttered by both the good guy and a bad guy. This brings a question of doubt in the perpetrators' actions, and it's revealed the Big Bad never planted a real bomb, just a fake one, because "he's a soldier, not a monster".
  • Drive Angry: Near the end, the female cultist who has been caring for Milton's baby granddaughter finds herself unable to harm the child when Jonah King orders her to sacrifice the baby. However, when asked if she'd have handed the child over to be killed, she's too ashamed to answer and the Accountant implies that she'll be damned to hell as a result.
    • The Accountant reveals that Satan himself hates people who murder children and is particularly disgusted when they do it in his name. After learning why Milton escaped from Hell, The Accountant decides to let him finish his plan to rescue his granddaughter and kill King before taking him back.
  • Extinction (2018): Miles hesitates on seeing Lucy under the table instead of just killing her. This foreshadows that he's unwilling to do this later, and thus also disillusioned with his people's campaign.
  • Fatal Attraction: While not above kidnapping a child, Alex Forrest for all her violent mentally unstable flaws notably doesn’t hurt Dan (her obsession) and Beth’s daughter Ellen. She just takes Ellen to a theme park before dropping her home safe. It’s inferred that in her delusions she genuinely believes she’s Dan’s wife and Ellen is her daughter (she asks Ellen for a kiss on the cheek when returning her home). The other possible explanation, given Alex’s own implied trauma as a little girl, is she genuinely doesn’t want to physically hurt a child. Or it was just mind games to torment Dan and Beth. She definitely has no problem killing small animals though.
  • Of all people, Jason Voorhees. In Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, he's shown standing in the midst of a cabin full of sleeping children and ignoring them completely, even the one who wakes up and sees him. He then goes about his usual business of killing their horny teenage guardians. This was by the request of Kane Hodder who played Jason, with the director Tom McLoughlin agreeing and explaining that Jason sympathizes with the plight of children from his own death as a child and thus won't kill them. It even serves to retroactively foreshadow the true identity of Jason in Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (actually the paramedic Roy Burns), as he has no qualms trying to murder the young Reggie.
  • The heroine of The Girl in the Cafe admits to having been imprisoned for attacking someone for hurting a child.
  • Cheese in Gone Baby Gone may be a ruthless drug dealer who has no problem with brutally murdering people but is insulted if someone accuses him of messing with kids. And if you tell him twice, he'll "get discourteous on you".
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: The Ravager code prohibits child trafficking. Yondu is a pariah among them for breaking this code by taking children to Ego.
  • A hilarious example happens in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Indiana Jones is in a local hash bar, he was inches away from killing Belloq at the cost of his own life when armed Arab Mercenaries have their rifles pointed at him. What stopped them from firing was when Sallah's kids entered the bar to shield him while taking him out. They found it amusing and spared his life.
  • The plot of In Bruges is driven because a mob hitman accidentally kills a child. He's suicidally depressed over it, and his boss is so enraged he plans to have the hitman killed. At the film's end, the boss mistakenly believes that he has killed a child as well, and promptly turns the gun on himself.
  • In Order of Disappearance: After kidnapping The Count’s son right off a playground, Nils does everything he can to keep the boy safe. He tucks him in, reads a bedtime story, and even lets the kid sit in his lap and drive his snow plow. Due to his kind manner, Rune easily comes with him and doesn't resist despite realizing that Nils isn't one of his dad's men. Of course, Nils never planned to hurt him, only to lure The Count in.
  • The action film Invisible Target have a really intense scene, where the Ronin Gang captures a bus full of schoolchildren and rigs it with a Time Bomb, forcing the heroes, Officer Chan, Officer Wai, and Inspector Carson to stay behind in order to stop the bomb from detonating. They failed, but it turns out the bomb was a dud; the Ronin Gang is only using the bomb as a distraction to keep the police off their tails, and while they're perfectly content with killing policemen and security guards, they draw a line when children are involved.
  • The Jade Faced Assassin has the feared band of murderers who calls themselves "The Ten Villains"; after killing a martial artist and stealing his baby daughter, they are ready to kill the baby as well... only, in the last minute, they realize they can't proceed with the deed of actually killing the baby. After some discussion, they instead decide to raise her as one of their ranks, each of the ten passing one of their skill into the child.
  • Jane Got a Gun: Evil as he may be, John Bishop turns out to be above harming children, and actually left Mary alive doing chores.
  • In Joker (2019), Arthur Fleck is never shown hurting a child and even seems to enjoy entertaining them (he actually backs off from attacking a man upon seeing young Bruce Wayne watching). Then again, this is before he's gone through complete Sanity Slippage.
  • The initial hit in Kate sees the protagonist try to call off the hit because her rules dictate that a child may not even be present to witness the trauma of assassination.
  • Kill Bill: The Bride plays the trope straight as she really doesn't like it when other children and teens get involved in violent stuff. In Part 1, she's very unhappy when Nikki witnesses how the Bride kills her mom in their fight, later attempts to dissuade Gogo from fighting her, spares a teenage Crazy 88 member but gives him a spanking with her sword and tells him to go home to his mother, and at the end of Part 2, she decides that she'd rather put her revenge aside for a little while than have BB witness her and Bill fight to the death.
  • Lady Macbeth: Sebastian, at first anyway, refuses to kill Teddy, a little boy. Later though he's convinced to help his lover do so.
  • In Little Monsters (2019), the soldiers enforcing the quarantine are willing to kill David and Audrey to prevent a zombie outbreak, but the general reneges when he realizes they're escorting a kindergarten class.
    "I can't shoot at kids! Again."
  • In Lucky Number Slevin, the mob bosses had to call in a hitman from out of town to kill a child, when none of their own men would do it. Turns out, he couldn't bring himself to do it either.
  • Played with in Major Payne, where the first thing the titular character tries to do to one of the ROTC boys is break his finger: however, it's his twisted way of helping someone take their mind off of excruciating pain elsewhere, such as getting a shot (the kid) or having been shot (one of his Marine buddies). When the time comes later when he actually means to hurt one of them, he physically cannot bring himself to punch out Alex Stone.
  • Most Wanted: As a Marine sniper Dunn was ordered to shoot a 10-year-old goat herder. He refused and ended up in prison for shooting his CO who tried to kill him for it.
  • In the Troubled Backstory Flashback of No Time to Die, Lyutsifer Safin turns up at Madeleine Swann's house while she is a child and tries to kill everyone in retaliation for Mr. White killing his own family. After her mother is killed, Madeleine shoots him and flees, pursued by a wounded Safir, only to fall through the frozen lake. Safin can't stand to watch her drown as she scrabbles against the ice, so breaks the ice with his gunfire and hauls her to safety. Rather than inspiring him to change his ways, however, Safin just gains an unhealthy obsession with Madeleine that lasts into her adulthood. Safin also doesn’t harm a hair on her and Bond’s daughter Mathilde, even after she bites him on the hand and simply lets her run away during his Collapsing Lair.
  • Cheyenne in Once Upon a Time in the West, is a ruthless bandit, but is genuinely incensed when he's accused of massacring a family.
    "What the hell? I'll kill anything, but never a kid. Be like killin' a priest. Catholic priest, that is."
  • In The Phantom of the Opera (1998), the Phantom tells the little girl, who fled into the underground tunnels due to the perverted manager, to go home and lets her leave unharmed. Anyoneelse who trespasses in the tunnels, he kills.
  • Pitch Black: Riddick likes children quite a lot, and they in turn seem fascinated by him — not just Jack, but Imam's younger acolyte as well. In fact, he likes them enough that he refuses to kill Jack even though she's actually a girl on her period and attracting the monsters. He doesn't have any qualms about leaving them to save himself, though.
  • Predator:
    • In the movies, the eponymous Predator is a nearly unstoppable alien killing machine with a code of honor; Predators view children as innocents, off-limits to being hunted, and sometimes even protect them from harm. According to the Expanded Universe, predators hunt things depending on how worthy they are at giving them a good hunt. A predator would kill a child soldier in self-defense in a blink, but if it tried to hunt one and collect the skull as a trophy the other predators would punish him. This is exemplified in Predator 2 when he refrains from killing a pregnant cop and a child who was pointing a toy gun at him.
    • In one comic, the chief of the clan killed a young hunter who had a child's skull as a trophy. So, they are really strict in enforcing the rule.
    • In another comic, a predator kills Nazis who were about to kill a child (after having massacred his whole town), then cuts the ropes tying the boy's hands.
    • And in yet another comic, a predator kills a man who physically abused his son and forced him to go hunting in the woods with him, and after blood from his father's body splatters on the boy, the predator gently wipes off the blood from the boy's face before returning to deal with the father's corpse.
  • Leon, an expert hitman in The Professional, has two major rules: no women, no kids. Notably, he nearly breaks the latter when Mathilda first comes to stay with him. After she falls asleep, he retires to his own "bed" (an easy chair in the living room) and tries to nod off, but is clearly agitated—despite his pity for her, Mathilda is also a complication he really doesn't need in his life. Finally, in a fit of frustration, he heads back to Mathilda's room and points a gun at her head, seemingly ready to kill her... before changing his mind and going back outside.
  • In The Quick and the Dead, several kids gang up on the priest Cort, who plays this trope straight. Somewhat subverted when the Lady comes in and kicks their asses, though she still confines herself to swats and twisted ears.
  • Certainly not a villain, but RoboCop deserves mentioning. One of his directives is "Protect the innocent", and this always includes children, in his eyes. (Evident in the TV series too.)
  • The Rock: Before taking the tourists and tour guide hostage, General Hummel tells a group of elementary school children to get back on the ferry and leave. This foreshadows the fact that his threat to launch an attack on major cities, was a bluff. He ends up fighting his own men when they want to launch the attacks anyway.
  • Scarface: Tony Montana is a hyperviolent criminal, but only against adults. Near the film's climax, he agrees to help an assassin plant a car bomb, but when he realizes there are kids in the car, he kills the assassin instead.
  • The Secret Garden: While Mrs. Medlock certainly threatens to box Mary's ears, she never actually strikes her. She does slap Martha, but she's old enough to not be considered a child.
  • Switchback: Though the killer shows no compunctions at killing anyone else, he lets LaCrosse's son live. Although this may be to screw with LaCrosse initially, he could have murdered the boy, making LaCrosse's search futile, and this suggests even he's reluctant or unwilling to murder children.
  • Theresa & Allison: Vampire society officially prohibits feeding on human children, since they're more likely to be missed, with it potentially exposing them. However, in truth many still kill them, but just make sure it's kept a secret (they apparently taste nicer than adult humans).
  • In Unbreakable a crazy serial killer comes to a house and kills some people, but leaves the kids intact hiding in a cupboard or closet or something. The orange man likely just had other plans for them before he killed them, but we learn little enough about him that it's open to interpretation.
  • Refusing to run over a girl is what caused the downfall of the terrorists in Vantage Point as they tried to escape in an ambulance. Had they run her over, they just might have gotten away. And these are the same terrorists that detonated two bombs in a crowd that contained plenty of children.
  • Wonder Woman 1984:
    • At the beginning of the movie, some mall thieves are fleeing from some security guards when one suddenly grabs a young girl and threatens to drop her over the railing if security doesn’t back off. His fellow criminals are shocked and horrified he would do something like that and shout at him not to hurt the kid instead of taking advantage of the situation to escape while the security guards were distracted with the hostage situation.
    • Maxwell's acquired security team has no problem trying to shoot and kill Diana during their confrontation on the roads of Egypt. However, they swerve around her and hold their fire when she falls onto the road holding the two young children she was protecting from being run over.
  • The Zookeeper's Wife: When Heck finds out that Antonia has been hiding Jewish refugees and doesn't return his romantic feelings, he nearly kills her son for revenge, but ultimately can't go through with it.

  • Played with in the Alex Rider novel Eagle Strike. Yassen refuses to shoot Alex and cites this trope, although the real reason for him sparing Alex might have been feelings of loyalty towards Alex's father, who saved Yassen's life. Earlier in the series he had no problem working alongside Herod Sayle, a man who wanted to commit genocide against all British schoolchildren.
  • Corvis Rebaine in The Conqueror's Shadow tells his demonic partner this when the demon suggests that he kill a young girl who ends up being his future wife who is being too chatty. The demon retorts that Rebaine doesn't seem to have a problem with letting his armies slaughter women and children for him. Rebaine is furious but realizes that he can't deny it.
  • Marcus from Dark Shores is a hardened legion commander but instead of resorting to violence, he prefers creative solutions to his problems, because in reality he does not like hurting civilians, especially kids.
  • Dexter might be a bloodthirsty Serial Killer, but even he is horrified that anyone could hurt a child. Of course, being Dexter, he expresses that horror by offing the child killers in turn, but hey, nobody's perfect.
  • Discworld:
    • Granny Weatherwax. She dislikes most children on principle but is utterly incapable of harming a child, despite being willing to brainwash people into thinking that they are frogs as a punishment for casual insults. Most young children tend to recognize this on a subconscious level and thus have no fear of her. Whilst this doesn't seem like much of an advantage, if you were to threaten a child (or other innocent) in her presence, there are not enough words to express how utterly screwed you are. This is such an intrinsic quality to her that when, in the short story "The Sea and the Little Fishes", Nanny Ogg very briefly thinks she's harmed her grandson, the sheer shame she feels for even considering the thought incapacitates her for the rest of the evening.
    • In Sourcery, it is stated that the customers of the Mended Drum, a notorious pub in Ankh-Morpork might murder each other, but "a child could go in for a glass of lemonade and be certain of getting nothing worse than a clip round the ear when his mother heard his expanded vocabulary."
    • Toward the end of Sourcery, Rincewind intends to stop the Sourcerer's rampage by braining him with a half-brick in a sock. Seeing that the Sourcerer is 10 years old stops him in his tracks, leaving him at a loss for what to do.
  • Ari in Dragon Jousters:
    "I do not make war on children!"
  • Despite being a generally ruthless, amoral crime boss, Gentleman Johnny Marcone of The Dresden Files fits this trope to a tee. Not only would he never harm a child, but whenever a child is in danger, he puts their safety ahead of his own every time. He also personally executes any criminals in the city who violate this rule. It's the main reason that Harry can't bring himself to hate Marcone.
  • The Empirium Trilogy: The main reason Corien is stealing elemental children to use them as soldiers is specifically to weaponize this ideology: he knows that many people would balk at killing a child which gives his army an advantage on the battlefield.
  • Witch hunter Shadwell in Good Omens refuses to shoot The Antichrist Adam Young when he sees that Adam is a little boy, saying that he is "just a bairn".
  • Crops up in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when Hermione tells Harry not to curse a Death Eater who's been left with the head of a baby after an unfortunate accident involving time magic. Also cropped up earlier in the book, when the centaurs don't (initially, anyway) hurt Harry and Hermione because they're "foals".
  • Her Crown of Fire: Halvers, despite missing a soul and tending to sink into madness, are extremely protective of children.
  • This is true of Richard III in the I, Richard Plantagenet Series when the Duke of Buckingham tries to convince him to have his nephews murdered. Richard knows the boys are a threat, but he also knows that killing children is immoral and if anything happened to them on his watch, it would be bad optics. Buckingham knows this, too, and he wants the taint of the boys' murder on Richard, so he does it himself.
  • In John Hemry's The Lost Stars novel Tarnished Knight, Drakon protects the families of security forces for fear of the children being hurt.
  • In Devon Monk's Magic on the Storm, Allie would fight to prevent Powered by a Forsaken Child magic drawing on the hospital nursery.
  • Doubly subverted in Night Watch (Series) with a "wild" Light One Maxim. He can see Dark Ones but not his kinsmen and as such considers himself to be a lone crusader in a world besieged by forces of Darkness. He relentlessly slaughters every Dark One he comes across, not bothering to find out if they actually harmed anyone (Not all of them do. Until he encounters a Dark kid. He silently bemoans and curses the "Powers" that bestowed him upon his gift but is still prepared to carry out his mission, and even intervention from another Light One doesn't hold him back ("Your Light has faded!"). He does hesitate, however, when the kid rushes to protect his unfortunate defender from him, something he wouldn't think possible for a Dark One.
  • One of the few moral compunctions of Villain Protagonist vampires Simon and Salem in Old Scores.
    Simon: "There are lines even I don’t cross. I’m a monster, not an animal."
  • It's mentioned in Patience and Sarah (which starts in 1816, when corporal punishment was expected) that Patience hates seeing kids swatted and avoids spanking kids herself.
  • The Perfect Run: The Augusti have a strict rule about not involving children in their dealings. They won't even sell Bliss to kids. Augustus himself, however, has no problem murdering children; he just makes sure that there's no one left alive to contradict his story.
  • Count Rugen, the six-fingered man, in The Princess Bride. He avoids engaging young Inigo in battle after he kills his father, and doesn't kill him, even after he defeats him. However, given the Count's obsessive interest in pain, this is likely "not" so much "wouldn't kill a child" as it is cruelty.
  • Damon Runyon's characters are criminals, but this is a line they do not ever cross. In the story "Gentlemen, the King!", three hoods hired to knock off a European king abort the mission instantly upon finding that the King in question is a child, and end up assassinating the man who hired them, instead.
  • Invoked in Someone Else's War, where the Lord's Resistance Army uses child soldiers to do their fighting because they know most people will hesitate to kill kids.
  • This is a major reason that Miryem decides to free the Staryk King in Spinning Silver. Until living in the Staryk realm, she (and everyone else) thought that the Staryk were unknowable and merciless immortals—which still isn't totally wrong. But they also have children like humans do, and having met her Staryk servant's young daughter, Miryem can't go through with the plan to let Chernabog feast on them.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In The Krytos Trap, Kirtan Loor is the terrorist striking during a terrible pandemic in order to make the New Republic's job that much harder. Flirry Vorru is sent to stop him but instead decides to use him, telling Loor what targets to hit as part of some plan. Once he directs Loor to a school. Not a training academy, a school. For children.
      [...] It struck Loor as almost comical that he could see Vorru's desire to strike at a school as evil, yet his desire to hit Rogue Squadron was nothing more than duty. The difference, ultimately, was that the strike at Rogue Squadron would advance the cause of the Empire, while the strike at the school would only strengthen Vorru's position. We are not as far apart as I would like to think, but neither are we as close as Vorru thinks.
    • Although Loor still bombs the school, he objected to this and to a plan of Isard's, but he went along and helped anyway.
    • In Death Star, nearly everyone is horrified by what happened to Alderaan, including the gunner who pulled the trigger. In an aversion of A Million Is a Statistic, it's the idea of being on a battle station that destroys inhabited worlds with civilian populations that gets several of them to go through Heel Realizations. A stormtrooper tells himself that he could fight a room full of people and if surviving meant killing half of them, so be it. But he hadn't signed up to murder children in their beds.
    • Largely averted in Galaxy of Fear, when just about anyone is willing to directly or indirectly hurt Tash and Zak Arranda, who start the series as 13- and 12 years old, respectively. But played straight(ish) with Captain Thrawn. When Tash is insultingly rude to him, his bodyguards bristle but he tells them to stand down and says that since she's a child he won't take offense. He also takes the time to explain himself to them, a little, though he doesn't go out of his way to help them.
  • Tales of the Bounty Hunters: Dengar stopped working as an Imperial assassin when his orders were to kill a group of holy orphan children who'd denounced the Emperor while trying to withdraw from the Empire. He couldn't do it, and turned on his former employers, hunting down numerous evil Imperial officials afterward. It's notable that as a result of his "Redesign" Dengar lacked compassion at the time entirely, yet he still felt this was the last straw.
  • In The Underland Chronicles, Gregor and his bat Ares set off to kill a rat known as the Bane. The decide they can't when they see that he's a baby.
  • In Void City, though Eric considers all vampires including himself to be monsters, one of the few moral lines that he absolutely won't cross is to harm children.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003):
    • After subverting this in its first half-hour, the series later justifies it in that the Cylons want Baby Hera alive, and did their best to take care of her, despite having no prior experience in childcare and in general being lousy at it. Also, Leoben's psychological torture of Kara Thrace on New Caprica included leaving her alone with a child she believed was a half-Cylon hybrid. When Kara locked herself in a room to avoid the kid, the kid hurt herself and Kara's instincts as a human being overcame her hatred for the Cylons and she came to the kid's aid. No, Kara's not the villain, but then again BSG doesn't really have villains. Also, Cylons don't have kids: the toddler was a human girl they'd kidnapped.
    • "Black Market" shows that in the human fleet's criminal underworld children are being sold in a slave market. Apollo, despite having seen proof that the gangsters are very connected, dangerous, and might be able to get away with killing him, nonetheless confronts the head of the black market and says that he understands the need for a black market on certain goods, but that children are off limits. The guy refuses, thinking that Apollo doesn't dare actually kill him. Apollo quickly proves him wrong and gets the new head of the underworld to agree to not mistreat kids.
  • Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad may be a little rough around the edges, but if there's one thing that sets him off, it's seeing harm come to children.
    • Inverted with Todd. Unlike Jesse, he's very polite and soft-spoken, but he proves willing to murder a child without hesitation if he feels it's necessary.
  • Despite being fairly ruthless in regard to criminals (and suspected by many of being a dirty cop), Chicago P.D.'s Sgt. Voight actually has a secret soft spot when it comes to kids, particularly ones in trouble. He took in the teenage daughter of a junkie and raised her as his own, and often helps other kids he encounters in his police work in a variety of ways.
  • While serial killer Frank from Criminal Minds has no qualms about hurting a child per se, he gets no satisfaction from doing so. This becomes a minor plot point in the episode where he's introduced. Criminal Minds in general falls under this trope, at least what is being shown on screen. Even though many of the serial killers have hurt kids in their past, when an episode raises the possibility that a kid could get killed, the kid always lives. The only time this was subverted was in "The Boogeyman," when the killer was himself a kid.
  • CSI: NY:
    • The shooter in "Unspoken" follows an injured Lindsay to the hospital, knowing she can identify him. He decides against killing her when he sees the picture Lucy had drawn for her...killing a mom would be detrimental to a kid.
    • One of the kidnappers in "Exit Strategy" tells the other they've been tied down by the little girl they snatched (during a robbery so she wouldn't identify them) for long enough and hands him a gun so he can shoot her. Instead, he pistol whips him with it and takes off with the child, raising her as his own for several years until Mac & Co finally catch up to him.
  • Played with in The Daily Show when the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference featured a 13-year-old speaker. Stewart showed a clip of his speech, then got out a huge, dusty "Comedy Bible" to determine whether or not he was acceptable to mock. The answer was "Only for a classmate or sibling".
  • Volt invokes this in Danger Force while fighting with a bad guy, who suddenly felt bad about trying to fight her (a young teen). Volt then used this to defeat him (knocking him off the R.V. they were traveling on top of.
  • Dexter Morgan of Dexter may be a psychopathic serial killer but one line he'll never cross is hurting a child. He once goes out of his way to murder a man who didn't fit Harry's Code because he was stalking his young step-daughter and is generally pretty wrathful towards those who hurt kids.
  • Doctor Who has several examples of this trope:
  • In Fargo Season 4, Josto tasks his henchman Antoon with killing a child hostage, the son of rival gang boss Loy Cannon. Antoon reluctantly follows orders but hesitates at the decisive moment, ultimately holstering his gun. However, the decision comes too late to save Antoon from Milligan, the man tasked with raising the hostage, who'd sworn to Cannon that he wouldn't be harmed.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • After killing a handful of Mole's Town men and women without hesitation, Ygritte declines to harm Gilly and her child.
    • A season or so later, this trope is the downfall of Karsi, another Wildling chieftain. Holding off the undead army at Hardhome so others, including her own daughters, can evacuate to safety south of the Wall, she cuts down wight after wight, until ... she herself is confronted by some child wights. Hideous though they appear, she can't bring herself to defend herself against them, and falls herself, later to be reanimated by the Night King as a wight.
    • After seeing what happened to the Targaryen children during Robert's Rebellion, Ned does not want to see history repeat itself. While warning Cersei to take the children and run might have been the noble thing to do, it wasn't the smartest thing to do. Ironically, this action alone did not result in his death: Cersei never intended to kill him, merely send him to the Night's Watch. He was finally killed on the whim of a boy-king, the very person he had intended to spare. The reason for him holding to this belief is his fear for the safety of his nephew Jon Snow, whom he raised as his own child. Robert Baratheon wanted to kill all of Rhaegar's offspring, which — if the truth were revealed — would include Jon as well, as he is the hidden son of Lyanna Stark (Ned's sister) and Rhaegar Targaryen. Ned internalized this to protect all children in danger from the crown: Daenerys and also Cersei's kids.
  • In Heroes, Sylar, for all his evil ways, generally leaves kids who haven't reached puberty alone. He might threaten them or use them as extortion chips against his enemies, but never actually gets around to hurting them. Teenagers are fair game for him, though.
  • Hunter: In the episode "Sniper", an army Sergeant goes on a shooting spree with a sniper rifle to kill random women in public parks who remind him of his ex-wife. When a young boy runs into him during one of these while chasing after a football, he tells the kid to get the hell out of dodge. This backfires when the boy alerts a police officer and the sniper has to flee the scene.
  • Darien Fawkes, on The Invisible Man is really great with kids, even when he's in a chemically induced murderous psychosis.
    • For a bit of framing, in one particular episode, the guy sets fire to a picnic, pummels an entire football team while invisible, steals the Rolex of a dead guy at his funeral, But in the scene where he's with kids? He's beyond cool and highly supportive of them. Soon as the kids are out of the room he comes this close to killing his childhood pastor.
    • One early episode has him pose as a little girl's Imaginary Friend. He practically cures her Post-Traumatic Stress disorder himself, goes out of his way to make sure she's okay after he was just shot, and protects her from a Sniper while homicidally insane.
  • Ben on Lost, despite being a Magnificent Bastard, doesn't want to kill Rousseau's baby, and instead takes her in as his own. Later when he tracks down Penny in order to kill her, he hesitates because she has a child. This trope is subverted, however, when Sayid shoots a 12-year-old Ben while in the past.
  • The Mandalorian: The cornerstone of the show is that, instead of letting the Imperial remnant kill the powerful Jedi toddler that he's been hired to capture, "Mando" goes on the run with the Child and develops a paternal bond with him.
  • Two of Volker's hitmen in The Mentalist are ordered to kill a child who witnessed one of Volker's murders. The first hitman asks one of his relatives to take the kid in. The second hitman looks at a picture of the kid and flat-out refuses.
  • NOS4A2: Manx insists that Bing never manhandle a child, and gives him a single warning after he grabs Haley (only temporarily, as she quickly breaks free by kicking him in the shin). Knocking them out with gas though doesn't "count" in his eyes, as he feels he's rescuing children from abuse (often just mild neglect at worst).
  • NUMB3RS: Both invoked and played out in "The Art Of Reckoning". A hitman on death row tells the FBI a story about how he murdered a young child, but the evidence doesn't support it. As he stubbornly sticks to his story, Colby wonders whether the hitman was unable to kill the child and hid him away somewhere instead. They eventually find that the memory was so horrible that he had repressed it, fabricating a memory in its place. When he finally remembers what really happened, it's a less pleasant revelation: the hitman was, in fact, unable to make himself kill a child, so his client ended up doing it himself. The fabricated memory was an attempt to create a reality in which the child's last moments were less horrific, even though the false memory put the hitman himself in a worse position.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Rumpelstiltskin, for all his evil doings, has never been seen harming, manipulating, or even raising a hand at a child. This can be explained through his backstory; he became The Dark One to prevent his son from becoming a child soldier, and later used this power to rescue all the other children from the war.
    • In "Lacey", upon discovering that the reason Robin Hood copied a wand from him was to heal Marian, who was deathly ill and pregnant, Rumplestiltskin intentionally misses with the arrow he was aiming at them. Made more telling that the bow used was enchanted to always find its target. Belle even calls him out on it and he basically just ignores her by changing the subject.
    • He also seemed to have a genuine fondness for Henry even after it was revealed that Henry would be his downfall.
  • The Orville: Mercer finds out the Krill are heading to a human colony and plan to nuke it from orbit. They find a way to kill the crew, but then they find out that they brought their kids along...They do manage to spare the kids, but kill the adults. It's pointed out that those kids will now grow up with every reason to want war on the Union, and Mercer's crew in particular.
  • The Outpost: 313 initially obeys the command to kill Janzo and Wren. After learning Wren's pregnant, however, 313 is shocked and stops, since he can't bring himself to hurt a child. This makes him rebel against his masters because he's realized his choice to obey them was wrong as a result.
  • Person of Interest:
    • When forced to choose between giving Elias information or watching a child freeze to death, Reese chose to save the child. Elias knew Reese would make that choice, which is the only reason he engineered the situation.
    • In an early episode, they zig-zag the effects of this trope: a hitman was hired to kill a family, but it turns out he only killed the parents and adult child but let the younger kid live (threatening to kill them anyway if anyone found out). A couple years later, the hitman "defended his honor" in prison when people started claiming that he killed the kid — no way, he doesn't kill kids. It's this very action that causes the original people who hired him to hire a second hitman, one who would kill a kid, to hunt down the kid and do it right this time (and thus prompting the Machine to give our heroes the kid's number).
  • Super Sentai:
    • In Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, this trope is what led to Joe Gibken defecting from Zangyack, as he refused to follow his commander's order to slay three captive children.
    • Uchu Sentai Kyuranger: Stinger states he doesn't kill children after being ordered to do so by his supposed boss, Eridoron.
      • This is briefly overturned in Space 20, when Stinger goes after Kotaro while under the influence of his brother's poison. Interestingly enough, Kotaro and his younger brother, Jiro, are the children he was ordered to kill in Space 5.
  • In an episode of Tales from the Crypt a young girl allows a deranged psychopath, who is dressed as Santa on Christmas Eve mind you, into her house. After the episode ends, the Crypt Keeper says that the killer "prefers older women", meaning that the child was safe.
  • Viciously subverted in Torchwood: Children of Earth when Jack was forced to kill his grandson. Some of the Fandom has depicted him as extremely child averse for quite a while afterwards.
  • The first episode of Vidocq shows the trial of soon-to-be The Big Guy. As the prosecutor reads the accusations, he hears "assaulting a minor" and flies into a murderous rage at the insinuation that he would hurt a child. The prosecutor quickly corrects that he's accused of assaulting a miner.
  • Omar Little, the Karmic Thief from The Wire who steals exclusively from the drug syndicates running the streets of Baltimore, has both this trope and Would Not Shoot a Civilian as his guiding lights. Despite how young some of the drug dealers are when they start the game, Omar still refuses to harm minors, shows kindness towards local children during a 10-Minute Retirement, and several times discounts a potential threat because "He's just a boy." He's killed in the final season by a young sociopath with a gun whom Omar had discounted as a threat.
  • In a flashback in Xena: Warrior Princess, Xena reluctantly spares a young royal heir in the East, even though she was evil at the time and she knew he would grow up to be a homicidal despot with a grudge against her because she slaughtered his family. She turns out to be right about him when she revisits him 15 or so years later, yet she faces the same choice when Gabrielle implores her to spare him again despite all he has done since they last met. The last scene of the episode shows the Emperor sitting on his throne and Xena walking out of the throne room with Gabrielle and telling her she couldn't go through with it... but then the last shot reveals he is in fact dead.
  • The trope is played with in an episode of The X-Files when Scully goes against her instincts and her belief system and shoots the villain of the week, who is using mental trickery to make her think he's a child.
  • In Good Omens (2019), The moral conflict involving the fact that the Reality Warper Antichrist destined to bring about The End of the World as We Know It is also an innocent 11-years-old boy gets brought up a lot more than it did in the original work. Both the Noble Demon Crowley and the unscrupulous Angel Aziraphale agree that killing said Antichrist might be the only way to save the world, but neither can bring themselves to kill a child, which creates conflict in their millennia-long relationship (Especially as Aziraphale keeps claiming that Crowley has to be the one who does that simply because he is a Demon and is therefore automatically less good then Aziraphale is). Crowley is more of an example than Aziraphale since the Angel has a Thou Shalt Not Kill moral code, while Crowley more specifically says he's "not personally up for killing kids".
  • This is true in The White Queen of Richard III with respect to The Fate of the Princes in the Tower. He doesn't have the boys killed, not only because it's morally wrong but he recognizes the bad optics of them disappearing under his watch. He further argues if he did kill them, he would have made sure that everyone knew they were dead and made it look like natural causes. Unfortunately for Richard, Henry Tudor's mother Margaret Beaufort Would Hurt a Child.
  • Zero Zero Zero: Don Minu, leader of a 'Ndrangheta clan, firmly states that women and children are off-limits to gang violence, even if they witness a murder.



    Video Games 
  • Korgan Bloodaxe from Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn is a psychotic dwarf who has no problem with murder, rape, theft, or genocide. He's racist against just about anyone, sexually harasses the female party members and always, always suggests solving problems with his axe. But he won't harm children, and describes a man who beats his daughter as "not worth the spittle on his boots".
  • In many Bethesda Softworks games, one cannot kill or even hurt children. Attempting to attack a child in Skyrim, for example, will result in the child running away in fear with no damage, angry parents, a 1000 gold bounty, and a swarm of guards trying to kill you.
    • Ironically, killing children was originally an option in Skyrim since there are recorded death sounds of children, but Bethesda Softworks just couldn't let it slide. Many players find the children annoying and will even install mods on PC that allow children to be killed by player (unsurprisingly, such a mod was among the very first to be created).
  • In Darkest Dungeon, an abusive Highwayman will claim as such as a backhanded insult, increasing stress of his target. That said, it is very much implied by his comic that his guilt over killing an innocent woman and her child is what drove him to become The Atoner.
  • In Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, Heath objects to his boss Eubans telling his mercenary unit to attack the heroes' group on the basis that there are women and children in it, calling it "something no man could do without shame". This unfortunately doesn't last, as Eubans blackmails him into going along by reminding him he's a fugitive from Bern and threatening to send him back, but Heath is conflicted enough about it that he can be recruited if you speak to him with any of the lords (or Ninian).
  • For all their homicidal tendencies towards the night guards, the animatronics of Five Nights at Freddy's won't harm kids, and instead are fiercely protective of them. This is due to the main five — Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie the Bunny, Chica the Chicken, Foxy the Pirate, and Golden Freddy — being haunted by the souls of murdered children. It's very heavily implied that the Marionette is also inhabited by the soul of a dead child. Their aggressiveness towards adults, especially the guards, is a noble but misguided effort to protect the kids from The Purple Man, the psychopathic serial killer who murdered them in the first place.
  • Kratos in God of War may be called many things but child-slayer definitely isn't one of them. The one time he did (which is his own daughter) is a complete accident due to being set up by Ares. Furthermore, despite claiming that sacrificing Pandora, a child is a "simple task", he is ultimately unable to go through it and tries to stop her from sacrificing herself to the Flames of Olympus. He also never once physically hits Atreus when reprimanding him and the one time he pushes him too far when trying to keep him away from Baldur, he's briefly shown to be speechless and tries to apologize for what happened and later when he has a look of My God, What Have I Done? upon realizing that he nearly killed Atreus in his Bear form. Notably, upon learning that the spectral Ravens are souls sacrificed as children, Kratos is completely horrified at this and shows no mercy to the Raven Keeper upon confronting her.
  • Injustice 2 has this exchange between Superman and Blue Beetle which makes it very clear that Superman is a hypocrite.
    Blue Beetle: There any line you won't cross?
    Superman: I don't hurt children. (said as he's about to beat up a teenaged superhero)
    Blue Beetle: Didn't stop you with Shazam.note 
  • This trope is discussed in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The Gerudo, an almost entirely all-female tribe of thieves, are expected to obey the will of the single male born every century, who is always given the title of King. In this case, the King is Ganondorf — but Nabooru, his second-in-command, absolutely refuses to follow his orders, because he steals from women and children and has killed people. She may be a thief, but she outright calls Ganondorf "evil" for his cruel actions. It's implied that most of the other Gerudo feel the same way — or, at least, they're much more loyal to Nabooru than Ganondorf.
    • Ganondorf himself seems to take up this belief in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. In this incarnation, Link is, at the oldest, 12, and even after knocking the boy unconscious and stealing his Triforce of Courage, the sorcerer promises not to kill him. Similarly, Ganondorf spends the first half of the game searching for the newest incarnation of Princess Zelda, and kidnaps at least three small girls to find her; they're locked in a cell, true, but they seem to be well cared for during their imprisonment. When Ganondorf does find Zelda, he kidnaps her, but even though he could easily kill her and permanently obtain the Triforce of Wisdom for himself, he won't do it. A late-game monologue reveals Ganondorf's motivation for his actions: as a boy, he witnessed countless women and children die in his home country, and has spent much of his life looking for a place where simply existing won't kill people. In the endgame though this ends up being subverted after the King of Hyrule touches the Triforce; with his plans ruined, Ganondorf undergoes a big Villainous Breakdown and decides to kill Link and Zelda out of sheer spite, triggering the final battle.
    • Subverted with Yuga in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. He travels through Hyrule looking for the Seven Sages and transforms them into paintings for use in an evil ritual; one of those Sages, Gulley, is younger than Link (who is again about 12 years old in this game), and another, Irene, looks about the same age as the hero.
  • In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, when the Diamond Dogs realize that the workers they have been hired to eliminate are child soldiers, Snake fires his gun away from them so they have an audio recording where he appeared to kill them, but he rescues them anyways. Snake considered using them for themselves, but Miller absolutely refused. Throughout the game, more armed child soldiers are encountered in Africa, who will attempt to kill Snake. Killing one results in a mission failure, so the player is required to use stealth, CQC, and stun weapons to get past them.
  • No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle: Travis Touchdown got over his inability to kill women in the the first game, in this game he can't bring himself to finish off schoolgirl assassin Kimmy Howell (who later grows into an adult and challenges Travis again in No More Heroes III... it ends in tragedy).
    Travis: Screw this! I can't kill a co-ed!
  • In the backstory of Nox, the warrior Jandor grew weary of the war and refused to kill the last of the cursed bloodline of the Northern Mages since she was just a child. He left her to be raised by a tribe of ogres. That child was Hecubah, the Big Bad of the game.
  • Octopath Traveler: While injured soldiers and elderly grandmas are fair game, path actions that involve bringing NPCs into battle such as Challenge and Allure are not able to target children or young teens.
  • In The Order: 1886, the Lord Chancellor once slew a family of Lycans but spared their infant son since he couldn't bring himself to kill an innocent baby. He instead adopted the boy as his son Alastair.
  • Seems to be a formal rule in the Van Der Linde gang from Red Dead Redemption 2. The only time you can really find kids outside in the world (Jack Marston can always be found at camp) is some street kids in the New Orleans equivalent, Saint Denis. One of them steals your bag in a cutscene and when you chase after him, you can’t shoot him. Nor can you hurt any of the other kids either inside or outside the mission. When Jack gets kidnapped, the whole gang goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and burns someone’s house down over it. Hosea, the Number Two in the gang, flat out says “Kids are off limits” during the mission. In a more lighthearted example, you can yell at everyone in camp to wake up while they’re asleep but Jack can’t be woken up.
  • In Slime Rancher, chickadoos are baby chickens that will never be eaten by slimes. Even The Tarr will simply ignore them. However, all bets are off once the chickaddos reach adulthood...
  • Rashid in Street Fighter V, according to his bio, strongly dislikes fighting both women and children. It's subtly shown in the story mode A Shadow Falls when he gatecrashes 18-year-old Karin's mansion so he can get the chess piece MacGuffin from her. Karin overpowers and restrains him, but Rashid just breaks free, only wanting to get close enough to snatch the chess piece from her. Rashid also starts the story mode by attacking two Shadowloo grunts whom he assumed were kidnapping little Li-Fen, but were actually escorting her.
  • Played with in Super Robot Wars R, the Big Bad Duminuss has a trio of homunculi as henchmen. The homunculi, despite posing superhuman strength, are all children. This is because Duminuss knows most people will hesitate to fight children. It's eventually averted as the homunculi sacrifice their "mind" to heal badly injured Duminuss and player must kill them all afterwards.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • In the comics, this goes for the mercenaries. So far seen are the RED and BLU Soldiers, Spies, and Scouts, and the RED Heavy and Demoman.
    • In "Ring of Fired", this also applies to Saxton Hale, although he's okay with ordering his employees to hurt children in his stead. Unfortunately, they won't either, even if the fate of Mann Co. hangs in the balance. Grey Mann uses this against him to wrest control of Mann Co. from him. In his case, it's more out of the fact that children cannot put up a proper fight rather than any moral compunctions.
    • The Pyro, despite (or possibly because of) their complete insanity and childlike outlook on life is extremely protective of children. Though this may sometimes manifest in playing with them (usually by setting things on fire around them in a thankfully harmless capacity for the kids) even implying harm towards them sets Pyro off. A later issue of the comic had the Pyro incinerating two of the original mercenaries right when they cryptically mention opening up an orphanage that would give them a supply of kids. Their full intentions are never realized as the moment they imply having sinister intentions for the children, the Pyro immediately points their flamethrower at the two.
  • One of the late-game boss battles in Tin Star is against Kid Johnson, the Baby Bandit. Tin Star has a good guy code that says "never shoot women and children," so he naturally won't shoot Kid. This turns the showdown into a Hopeless Boss Fight, as even if Tin Star draws his gun, the cursor goes wonky when aiming at Kid. However, Kid Johnson showing up was part of a Batman Gambit on the part of Big Bad Black Bart, as Bart immediately hides Kid after the showdown, claiming Tin Star shot him, which causes Tin Star to be run out of town.
  • In World of Warcraft, child non-player characters (including those of the opposing faction) cannot be attacked or killed.

    Web Comics 

    Web Originals 
  • In The Crew of the Copper-Colored Cupids, Lainya Vantrik's "code of honour" includes never killing or endangering kids — and killing any would-be clients who try to trick her into doing so. She's got quite a generous definition of "children" too, objecting to being made to assassinate a 19-year-old in Century Smith and the Time Terror.
  • The giant naga Katrika of Deviantart user Karbo's Felarya loves children, and often goes out of her way to protect any kids she finds lost in the jungle. This behavior is especially noteworthy because Felaryan nagas (including Katrika) are typically man-eaters.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • In The Boondocks, when the boys get stuck in a prison riot during a field trip, one of the kids ask if the prisoners holding them captive are going to rape them, to which one of them replies, "Hell no! Do we look like priests?" Considering that convicted child molesters tend to be disproportionately targeted, this is hardly surprising.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • Pa and Ma, the late convenience store owners in "The Inconveniencing", wouldn't dare harm anyone under the age of 13. Teenagers, however, are fair game.
    • In "Fight Fighters", despite all the threats Robbie made towards Dipper, at the end of the episode Robbie can't bring himself to hurt Dipper, even after the latter had accidentally sicced a living fighting game character on him.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures:
    • Applies to Jackie's niece Jade all the time. For example, when a statue of Lo Pei (the warrior who originally defeated Shendu) is animated by the Rat Talisman, the Dark Hand mooks pose as mystical priests in an attempt to sway him to their side. However, as soon as they try to hurt Jade, Lo Pei sees through the ruse.
    • Most telling in an episode where the heroes are fighting evil clones of themselves, and the adults are handily thrashed by the clone of Paco, a child. When they pull off Paco-clone's "mask" to reveal two eyes on an otherwise blank face, the tables suddenly turn and they're allowed to punch him with impunity.
    • In an episode involving Time Travel, Jackie tries to get the Dark Hand to back down by threatening the younger version of Valmont. Chow calls him out on this almost word-for-word. Jade grabs Valmont and snarls, "Jackie wouldn't, but I would!"
  • While Stormer's bandmates in Jem have no issue stuffing little girls into trucks, she disagrees. She helps Ashley behind their backs, instead of leaving her to die.
  • In The New Adventures of He-Man episode "Quest For The Crystals", when Meliac and his mooks corner He-Man and Caz, Meliac tells Caz he is free to leave. One of his mooks asks why they would bother sparing him. Another mook says that ever since Meliac's son died in a cave-in, Meliac cannot bear to see any child be harmed.
  • Captain Hook is usually very willing to hurt the Lost Boys. However, in Peter Pan & the Pirates, he compromises in one episode where he is able to manipulate a magical text that gives him an overwhelming advantage over Peter. As he's about to kill Peter, Wendy asks that Toodles be allowed to leave, so he can be spared seeing it. (Toodles is only a toddler.) Hook actually honors this request, and tells his men to bring Toodles below deck. (In this Darker and Edgier continuity, Hook has often stated that he is "a gentleman" who is not unreasonable.) Unfortunately for him, this was actually part of a plan thought up by Peter to escape by appealing to Hook's pride, and it worked.
  • The Simpsons: in "Bart the Fink," Bart accidentally exposes Krusty for tax fraud, causing him to lose everything. He tries to cheer his hero up, but when he fails, he gives Krusty permission to punch him in the face. An enraged Krusty is then shown with his fist cocked, but even at his lowest point, he can't bring himself to do it.
  • An unusual example in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. In one story arc the Space Pirate, Hondo Ohnaka, attacked a Jedi ship that was carrying six younglings in an attempt to steal their lightsaber crystals, and told his men to do whatever was necessary to get them. But two episodes later he tells the Padawan chaperoning the younglings, Ahsoka, that he doesn't like taking children into battle. When she mentions the earlier incident, he waves it off as a change of heart. The character's voice actor said in an interview that Hondo really doesn't like hurting kids; he was hoping to retrieve the crystals with minimum fuss and would have let them go home unharmed.
  • Trollhunters: It is stated that humans kidnapped and replaced with changelings must remain unharmed so that their disguises would hold. Because of this, the various babies that were kidnapped are being cared for and are in no danger.
  • Hunter Gathers of The Venture Brothers has two rules: never kill women or children.
    Hunter: It's what separates us from the bad guys.
  • Young Justice (2010) villains rarely follow this, but Despero is an exception. While giving a particularly harsh Curb-Stomp Battle to Captain Marvel/Billy Batson, the latter counterattacks with his magic lightning, which turns him back into the gangly teenager. Despero's Dragon notes that a child is a pointless opponent, and Despero puts Billy in a trance but otherwise leaves him unharmed. Though ironically, he next decides to fight Superboy, who's chronologically younger than Billy and only a year older physically.

    Real Life 
  • In LeVeyan Satanism, you are not permitted to harm children. However, it should be pointed out that LeVayan Satanism is hedonistic, and not outright evil.
  • In the National Geographic Documentary, Russia's Toughest Prisons, an inmate at Black Dolphin explained about his life as a mobster, which has its own rules regarding children. Since they're viewed as defenseless, he wasn't allowed to harm them. The same rules applied to women.
  • Many prison documentary series, such as MSNBC's Lockup and National Geographic's Lockdown, it has been explained that even prisoners have their limits when it comes to children and those convicted of harming them, especially sex offenders, which are viewed as low, even by prisoners' standards.
  • Many countries, like Russia and China, have laws that ban school officials from using corporal punishment on students, which can lead to job dismissal. Sweden was the first to go one step further and ban all form, including domestic.
    • United States was among the countries that signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a human rights treaty that handles rights for those under 18, but failed to have it ratified due to each state having different laws regarding children and political and religious conservatives blocking the measure (U.S. progressives say that is so conservative parents can force their religious ideology upon their children and beat them to force their compliance with adult authority). Barack Obama is aware of this and admits he'll have this reviewed since he considered the failure to ratify as an embarrassment.
    • However, many countries, including the United States, have made it illegal for anyone under 18 to be executed for a crime, including murder. Instead, the harshest allowed is life for those who committed homicidal acts in the first degree, while amendments for non-homicidal crimes have been considered since they can be viewed as cruel and unusual punishments.
  • During the trial for the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh's infant son, it was argued that the kidnapper must have been foreign, because "no American gangster ever sank to the level of killing babies." Al Capone himself even offered Lindbergh support during the investigation, as did many high-profile crime lords. Interestingly, the true kidnapper might have had similar standards, since the baby's death was likely accidental.
  • Even in the animal kingdom, certain species meet this standard. Not among predators, who usually attack the weakest first (sick, injured, elderly, children) or pack animals with an alpha (who will usually kill off the children of the previous alpha), but among social animals. A common way to end a fight among primates is for one fighter to pick up an infant and hold it.
  • During the 2011 Norway terrorist attacks, Anders Behring Breivik, the perpetrator, spared an 11-year-old boy whom he judged "too young to die", despite killing a 14-year-old.
  • In his autobiography, actor Anthony Rapp tells about his family testifying to convict criminals who were killing people driving on a highway (presumably running them off the road), taking their cars, and driving at high speeds to get the next car and repeat the process. The criminals spared the Rapp family because they saw baby Anthony in his car seat and couldn't bring themselves to murder an infant.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Wouldnt Harm A Child, Would Not Hurt A Child


No Wife, No Kids

Tony Montana may be a murderous, drug dealing crime boss who will not hesitate to eliminate anyone who gets in his way, but even he draws the line at killing kids in a hit.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (28 votes)

Example of:

Main / EvenEvilHasStandards

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