Kid Appeal Character

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Sonic: It's Cream and Cheese!
Chris: Friends of yours?
Sonic: More like obligatory kid appeal characters.

Little. Yellow. 'Special'. Kids love him!

The Kid Appeal Character is typically the character designed to appeal to a younger demographic. Cute, popular, tiny, likely to be Totally Radical, and almost always the youngest character on the team, he's invariably obnoxious and thinks he's so totally cool, in a frantic effort to convince viewers that this is a family friendly show.

As well as that, the Kid Appeal Character is all too often portrayed as seeing The Hero and leader of the Good Guys as his Father Figure. If the Leader is also quite young, chances are he'll see him as his Big Brother. In the same regard, he may look at The Lancer as being his uncle. Oh, and being yellow is not compulsory—but many kid-appeal characters are oddly brightly colored...

Depending on how young he is, how nice he is, or how old his father/brother figure is, the Kid Appeal Character will usually take one of these roles:

  1. Clown. Not just any clown either, this is the Kid Clown, who hurls humor at every available point. He may be funny, he may be clumsy (the former trope name was not called The Bumblebee for nothing), or he may just be the joker of the team, playing pranks, making wisecracks and sometimes just whining about all the problems that are going on. Usually played for laughs but may have a serious side.
  2. Weak but Lovable. Often getting into trouble, whether it's with the enemies or with the Badass members of the good team. He's still kid-appeal heavy, but less of a prankster. Their bravery as a Reckless Sidekick often backfires on them, but they have just enough nobility or good intentions to avoid being written off as useless.
  3. Ankle Biter. Mega-brave young character who's awfully gutsy for his (or her) puny age, puny height, or puny strength. They may be swatted aside by the more powerful enemies, but their determination will not let them stay down. Sometimes they'll make them a Cute Bruiser so he can match the big guys, or a Fragile Speedster in combat.
  4. The Smart Guy (Teen Genius) in the Five-Man Band. The Gen-X type who is more tech savvy than the older generation.
  5. Some combination of all of the above.

The Kid Appeal Character tends to stand out, especially in a story largely involving adult characters. Because of this any version can become The Scrappy, which is fitting since the original Scrappy was one of these. The ways this can happen is: The Clown is obnoxious as well as a Karma Houdini, the Weak But Lovable one never shows any real sign of helpfulness, the Ankle Biter slowly takes up prominence in the story over the primary characters, and as for the Teen Genius... two words: Wesley Crusher. Slightly more common is for the character to acquire a Periphery Hatedom: loved by those the producers intended, hated by everyone else.

In a Five-Man Band, if there isn't a definitive Chick in the band, the Kid Appeal Character can take over her duties by being the moral center of the team, always considering the little guys. A smart leader is often fully aware that the kid appeal character is not a strong front line warrior and will assign them roles better suited towards their skills, such as being a scout (like Optimus Prime did with the former Trope Namer, Bumblebee).

Kids love to purchase his Toys. Fanfic writers love to give them massive sex roles and pair them up with their father figure.

See also Tagalong Kid, Bratty Half-Pint, Kid Sidekick, Plucky Comic Relief. The kid appeal character is not quite the same as the Tagalong. The Kid Appeal Character is an official full member of the team while the Tagalong is either not a member or holds some sort of secondary membership status like team Mascot. They will likely be great friends, though. A Tagalong that takes a level in badass can be promoted to the Kid Appeal Character. If the kid appeal character has been a father, he becomes a Bumbling Dad. If he has been a sidekick, he becomes a Bumbling Sidekick. Compare Cousin Oliver.

When the character is a robot or an actual child, and is in a Science Fiction series, the Kid Appeal Character may well be an example of Kids and Cute Robots, to which this is a Super-Trope.

Examples of Kid Appeal Character include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Cowboy Bebop: Ed, being the youngest and most playful plays Kid Appeal Character to Spike Spiegel's Hero, Jet Black's Lancer.
  • Seira, the Token Mini-Moe of Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, pumps up the kid appeal and has a whole season revolving around her...
  • ...though not as much as Sailor Chibimoon of Sailor Moon, who became a one-girl Spotlight-Stealing Squad in season four after two seasons with her hanging around the older girls and playing with sparkly wands to match her mom's.
  • Pikachu of Pokémon. Very much a Type 3. Its species is extremely weak (though the Light Ball makes this debatable), and particularly in the first season, it got beaten by pretty much every Gym Leader at least once, but it always got back up. It's far and away the most popular character, and it's yellow.
    • A Volkswagen Beetle was modeled after him. Hmmm...
    • Also, it's the Mascot of the franchise. Somewhere a Clefairy cries.
    • Max and Piplup could also qualify, with the former being Type 4 and the latter being Type 3.
  • Marcia Mouse of Blinky Bill easily fits the ankle biter type, being a fiery Plucky Girl of the bunch.
  • Chopper from One Piece.
  • Hwang Bu-ling/Mew Pudding of Tokyo Mew Mew fits here: eight years old, wears bright yellow, equal member of the team, and dove right into danger even before she or anyone knew she had any powers. Even her Verbal Tic (nano da!) screams cute exuberance.
  • Naruto is a rare occasion where the Kid Appeal Character is the main character. Brightly colored, often obnoxious and alternatively very weak and ridiculously strong, and to top it all off, his leader wears a mask over the lower part of his face.
    • While until the Time Skip and several power ups made took place.
    • Gaara is a rather interesting case, being a former Ax Crazy antagonist, he becomes a stoic variation of this trope among the 5 kages once he takes up the mantle of kazekage, becoming the youngest to hold the title.
  • Nearly all of the seasons in Digimon have at least one of these:
  • Arguably, Simon, in the first half of his series.
  • Gohan, Goten and Trunks in Dragonball Z. Also, Krillin due to all his panicking.
  • In GoLion, Hiroshi "Chibi/Shorty" Suzuishi is the youngest at 12, plus he's always trying to prove himself and gets excited so easily.
  • Yahiko in Rurouni Kenshin.
  • Happy from Fairy Tail
  • Jinpei from Science Ninja Team Gatchaman is often boastful, sometimes capable of taking out bad guys and sometimes not, and makes stupid jokes. He has occasionally felt the need to prove himself, and gone to deal with the villains. The various derived characters in adapted versions of the show have the same characteristics.
  • Kon from Bleach.
  • In Saint Beast, in comparison to the rest of the cast Gai is younger, more energetic, less mature, fun and inquisitive, and to top it off has yellow and dark brown hair.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • X-Men usually has one of these characters, though sometimes it's less bright-coloured and more fuzzy. Either that, or Wolverine's young, female spunky sidekick. Whichever one he has at the time. They're usually female, the order for the main team was Iceman, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, Jubilee, Cannonball, Husk, Armor, and now Oya.
    • Lest we forget, Jubilee actually wore a lot of yellow.
    • In New X-Men, Pixie was one of the youngest, had brightly coloured wings, and was otherwise comic relief. For the few issues that focused on her before Break the Cutie (Which really didn't break her very much at all).
  • Jolt was this in the early years of Thunderbolts.
  • Impulse in Young Justice and Kid Flash in Teen Titans, perhaps. Bart's mostly type 1 with bits of type 4 thrown in when necessary.
  • The original Bumblebee is usually portrayed in comics as being the sort who keeps trying to "prove himself" to his bigger, stronger teammates, and usually gets into trouble because of it. (Prime, for his part, thinks Bumblebee has proven himself well enough in his given role of a spy that he shouldn't feel like this.)
  • Robin was originally an obvious Type 2, and even has the yellow cape. In fact, most comic-book sidekicks in the Golden and Silver Ages were created specifically to give readers a character to identify with.
  • The Human Torch in the Fantastic Four was the teenager in a cast of adults. Early on in the series, he was extremely popular and was the Breakout Character with his own Spin-Off within a year after the series started. His popularity was one of the reasons why Marvel created other teen superheroes like Spider-Man and the X-Men.
  • Speaking of Spider-Man, when he is put into a team dynamic, such as The Avengers, he usually fits this Trope as a combination of the Type 1 Clown and the Type 4 Smart Guy, in fact there have been team-ups where he has out and out stolen this role from Johnny Storm, to the point where he's taken Johnny's place on the FF!


Film[edit | hide]

  • Quite obviously, Jar Jar Binks from the Star Wars prequels was meant to be this. Being out of place in the story however, caused the attempt to backfire miserably. Reasons why people hate him range from more plausible to outright preposterous, but one thing is for certain. Admitting to liking him is a death warrant.
    • He fills basically the same "funny personality" role as R2-D2 and C3-PO. But both Artoo and Threepio had valuable technical skills compared to Jar Jar's convenient clumsiness. Still, Threepio fits this trope more than Artoo because he's always complaining.
      • And of course, let's not forget that Artoo and Threepio were still present in the films that Jar Jar appeared in, making Jar Jar somewhat redundant.
    • Jar-Jar's position is further weakened by the fact that The Phantom Menace had Anakin himself as a child. That brought us to the absurd critical mass of four Kid Appeal Characters in the movie: one useful multitool, one chatty throwback to the original trilogy, one chosen one... and Jar-Jar. That's a lot of kid appeal for a series with so many adult fans, so dislike for the least plot-critical of them was inevitable, even if Jar-Jar wasn't totally obnoxious and often offensive (and he was). Fortunately, the second and third prequels both toned him down and reduced his role.
  • The twins in Revenge of the Fallen, as Michael Bay states, were meant to be this (hell, they're even stuck with Bumblebee for much of the movie)... in spite of being violent Jive Turkeys who keep beating up each other. Their toy bios essentially say that being among the few Autobots who made it to Earth made them living their dream of working directly alongside Optimus Prime, which is certainly a common trait for this type of character. Their immature wrestling and talking about being "quiet like a ninja" also highlights their relative youth.
    • In the third film, Bumblebee's kid-friendly nature gets taken advantage of by Laserbeak, who turns into a mini pink Bumblebee to convince a little girl to let him in so that he can assassinate her father.
    • In Dark of the Moon the character type is also embodied by the duo of Wheelie and Brains, who are small robots and basically act like kids during the course of the movie. Unlike Skids and Mudflap, though, they have relatively little screen time and would rather be chilling at Sam's home watching TV instead of being involved with the Robot War.
  • Skippy Rabbit from Disney's Robin Hood falls into the Ankle Biter category.
  • Weak but lovable type in Olivia from The Great Mouse Detective.
  • Chip from Beauty and the Beast.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Gavin Darklighter plays this role in the first four books of the X Wing Series. Well, sort of. He starts out as a sixteen-year-old Farm Boy from Tatooine who is utterly naive and gets taunted by the rudest of his fellow Rogues, who for the most part are five to ten years older than he is. So he serves to be the newbie trying to find his place and being surprised by things that the older pilots find commonplace. While his subplots are pretty much in the background, he does go through Character Development and grow and mature. Eventually, by the New Jedi Order, he's the leader of Rogue Squadron.
  • Gavroche, from Les Misérables, of the plucky ankle-biting variety. His reaction to getting shot at by the military is to make up on the spot a song insulting French intellectuals! Then, this being Les Misérables, Reality Ensues.
  • In Harry Potter, Neville Longbottom is the kid appeal character due to his panicking. He turns brave later, though.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]


Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • Rey Mysterio, Jr. isn't the youngest in WWE and isn't (too) obnoxious, but he fulfills every other requirement as the Ankle Biter subset. He's tiny, wildly popular with kids, frequently wears ridiculously bright clothes, and gets picked on by the bad guys a lot. He's even had several of the bigger faces in WWE (Dave Batista most noticeably) in a big brother role at one point or another.
    • Rey plays directly to very little fans on his ring entrance. If there are kids on the sides next to the ramp during his entrance wearing merch masks, he'll walk right over and touch his forehead to theirs. One special kid will actually get Rey to take off his peel off part of his mask and put it on them, ala when Bret Hart used to take off his sunglasses and put them on a child in the front row.
  • Hornswoggle's a recent example, fitting many of the same characteristics Mysterio does except he's much less competent, actually is either the youngest man on the roster or close to it, and is about a foot smaller than Mysterio is. And Mysterio's 5'3".
  • Command Bolshoi of All Japan Wrestling, also known as Piko. She stands at only 125 cm has a mask with a clown nose but has a successful career as an ankle biter.


Toys[edit | hide]

  • Takua in the first years of Bionicle. While the Toa were the main heroes - and the ones that actually got the action figures - Takua started out as the Featureless Protagonist of the first few video games (one before the Toa arrived, and the other as the Hero of Another Story). After the games he remained a major character and his character was developed as adventurous and loving to explore, but knowing to leave the real fights to the Toa. All this culminated in the Mask of Light movie, where he was the main character and became a Toa himself (renaming himself "Takanuva").


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Imoen in Baldur's Gate. Nothing like as sexy as other female characters, Imoen is certainly the most innocent, and one of the best (and nicest) thieves you'll find. Pretty much a sister figure to the main character. And it turns out you're right, by the way.
  • Tails from Sonic the Hedgehog is probably the first Kid Appeal character Sega made, featuring in just about every cartoon as Sonic's best friend.
    • Also Charmy.
    • Cream and Cheese.
  • Pal-18 from Anachronox is a toy robot (though his owner has upgraded him with weapons and hacking systems) with a squeaky voice and a hip personality. You actually obtain his best weapon by letting him play in a playground for four hours (real time). Also, his theme color (relevant to the magic system) is yellow...
  • Relm from Final Fantasy VI is an extremely sassy ten-year-old girl who despite her grandfather's best efforts, keeps insisting on jumping into the fray. And she holds her own!
  • The Scout is one of these that stopped trying to convince people that Team Fortress 2 is a family-friendly game. He's all the better for it.
    • After his weapon pack came out, it could be said he Took a Level in Badass and became one of the heaviest hitters around, to the point of needing a nerf.
    • Wait, when was the Scout trying to convince people that TF2 is kid-friendly? He's loud-mouthed, swears (albeit mildly) more than any other member of the team, and makes jokes about beating people to death with a baseball bat.
      • He's fills all the criteria: the youngest, a Fragile Speedster, loudmouthed, clownish and obnoxious (in a good way).
  • Sakura Kusagano from the Street Fighter Alpha series. She was always out to prove herself against older, better-trained, and often bigger fighters.
  • Akari Ichijou in Last Blade.
  • Kurara in the Power Instinct series.
  • Bao in the King of Fighters series.
  • Luste Teuber and Dolis Warmind of Rosenkreuzstilette. Luste portrays herself as a hero of justice despite smashing everything in sight and likes playing with Tia, and Dolis is the leader of RKS's special ops division, being calm in the heat of battle, very intelligent despite knowing little about the outside world, and easily jealous and reacting rather badly to being called small.
  • The Blue Bird from Angry Birds, who also doubled as The Lancer.
  • Many Pokémon qualify as this, but none more so then the series mascot, Pikachu. In fact, every generation releases an Expy based on it.
    • Clefairy and Jigglypuff are also appealing to children (specifically girls), and like Pikachu, they've also received various expies based on them (Togepi, Skitty, Buneary and Minccino to name a few).


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Bumblebee from Transformers. Down to originally transforming into a Volkswagen. Every single version of him - ever - is a kid-appeal character. They even partnered him with the human kid on the show. (Weirdly enough, despite his being bright yellow, his function was espionage.)
    • Given how ubiquitous Volkswagen Beetles were at the time, he's actually pretty well disguised for espionage. Even to this day, the VW Beetle is still among the most common cars on the planet. Some 22 million were made, and most of them are still on the roads.
    • After the animated movie, the kid appeal role was taken on by Wheelie for the third series of Generation 1 (which paired him with the son of Bumblebee's partner, though not quite as often) and all of Transformers Headmasters, who was much more type 1.
    • This role was then taken over by Holi in Transformers Victory, who was blue but otherwise a combination of all this trope's aspects.
    • Cheetor from Beast Wars is also yellow, fast and the youngest one on the Maximal Team. And if that weren't enough to tell that he's the kid of the team, he's got freckles. Unlike Bumblebee however, he is actually quite a competent warrior and later became The Lancer to Optimus Primal.
    • Hot Shot, from Transformers Armada, also yellow, falls under the third version. A bit of a goofball but surprisingly competent in battle.
    • Wedge, from Robots in Disguise, is small, orange and gutsy, but where the typical Bumblebee-type in Transformers is fast, Wedge's assets are strength and engineering know-how. (that, and being the leader of a team that forms a Combining Mecha.)
    • This is all parodied in the Botcon script reading "Bee in the City," where Bumblebee from Animated is identified as the kid-appeal character and is asked if he's a Bumblebee or a Hot Shot (also referencing how he was originally supposed to be a new Hot Shot). Over the course of the program various characters also called him Wheelie, Side Burn, Cheetor, and even T-Bob, much to his annoyance.
      • And amusingly, it was Beast-era Megatron who called Animated Bumblebee "Cheetor," given that he never actually referred to Cheetor by his name during Beast Wars or Beast Machines.
    • In Transformers Prime this is sort of true, with Bumblebee based on his film counterpart and partnered with the youngest of the human characters.
    • According to Word of God, in Bizarro Universe Shattered Glass, Soundwave is intended as filling the Kid Appeal Character role, and has a personality that's mostly #1 with a little of #2 and #5.
  • And on that note, T-Bob from M.A.S.K. fits here as well.
  • Scooter from Challenge of the Go Bots
  • Flash from Justice League. Though he's also quite popular with the older fanbase.
    • The original pitch had a modified Young Justice consisting of Robin, Impulse and a Gender Swapped version of Cyborg acting as sidekicks to the League. This was when the show was being pitched to Kids WB, and the writers thought the execs would pass on the series unless it had kid superheroes for the audience to identify with.[1]
  • Kid Flash serves as this in Young Justice.
    • Robin is the youngest of the team and serves as a bit of a Type 4.
  • Scrappy-Doo from Scooby Doo was a famously unpopular one.
  • Jade from Jackie Chan Adventures is a type 3. She's not powerful enough to be a solo hero and regularly ends up getting into trouble, but she's adventurous and determined and usually finds a way to be useful.
  • Beast Boy from Teen Titans is a clown type. He's always trying to be funny and is clearly the least mature, and he usually seems to be the weakest fighter on the team.
  • Tuck from My Life as a Teenage Robot.
  • Chameleon Boy from Teen Titans' Spiritual Successor Legion of Super Heroes. Funny that they're both shapeshifters.
  • Thundercats and ThunderCats (2011): Wilykat and Kit. in the latter they are, as a Brother-Sister Team of Trickster Twins, a combination of 1 and 3, Clowns and Ankle-biters. As Artful Dodgers, teasing, trickery and theft are their forms of attack, from baiting monsters into tripwire to stealing others' weapons.
  • Orko from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. He didn't exist in the original toyline, Filmation created him to appeal to younger kids.
  • Buji from Mi Familia es un Dibujo (originally introduced in the movie Dibu: La Pel ícula).
  • Upita from Patoruzito. In the original comic book, there was no such character, there was only Upa.
  • Wasabi from Sushi Pack.
  • Enzo from Re Boot was written in specifically for this purpose. The producers of the show admitted that during pre-production they were instructed to put a kid in the show by the execs and they were against having a kid "mess up our kick-ass action show." But they came to love the character, feeling he was the heart and soul of the show, and after he received a Plot-Relevant Age-Up they worked to bring back the original kid (for a certain value of "original") because they missed him.
  • Ahsoka from Star Wars: The Clone Wars was to give the show a kid-perspective in a series filled with adults.
  • Richie Foley in Static Shock. He replaces Frieda Goren as Static's best friend because the show was geared towards a younger audience than the comics were. He's the second definition of Kid Appeal Character. He was also given superpowers because the writers were having a hard time keeping him in the episodes, but often his attempts at defeating the enemy don't work. He's been kidnapped at least four times and he's been turned into a mind slave twice.
  • In Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, android Buzzwang is the Rangers' Plucky Comic Relief Robot Buddy—and a substantial portion of the fanbase will never forgive him for it.
  • Rusty the Boy Robot in Big Guy and Rusty The Boy Robot is type 3. He's seriously determined to be a hero and actually has enormous powers, but his inexperience is always getting in the way.
  • Ironically enough, The Wasp from Avengers Earths Mightiest Heroes. Incidentally, she's quite popular with the older fanbase and the show's Ensemble Darkhorse.
  • Snap from ChalkZone
  • The Cutie Mark Crusaders in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, itself a kids' show, but the main cast are young adults(ish). The CMC are closer to the age of the target demographic, and thusly are easier for said audience to relate with.
    • And the first member introduced to the viewers, Apple Bloom? Yellow coat.
    • Oh, and Pinkie Pie also has kid appeal.
  • Gus Griswald from Recess, the small, cute Sixth Ranger to the main group of kids, and is weak and cowardly, but warmhearted and lovable. While not as obnoxious as most examples, he's still a Base Breaker among the fandom.
  • Michelangelo of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 is a combination of roles 1 and 2, and thanks to his reception, became a Breakout Character amongst the brothers.
  • Nibbles (or Tuffy depending on the short), the little gray mouse Jerry adopts in some shorts, filled this role in Tom and Jerry, though the series itself was originally meant to appeal to a more general audience.
  • Jay in Ninjago is the least series character on the team and makes constant jokes and seems a bit younger then the others.
  • Cody and Cowarado Kid seem to take turns filling this role in Wild West C.O.W Boys of Moo Mesa.