The Omen

Weekend Roundtable: Rotten Kids

Moms put up with a lot. As we head into Mother’s Day this weekend, let’s take a moment to remember some of the brattiest, whiniest, and most ill-behaved children from movies and TV who have made their parents’ lives hell.

Brian Hoss

Long before Liam Neeson went ‘Taken’ in search of the unworldly Maggie Grace, ‘24‘ introduced the world to the iconic Jack Bauer… and his beautiful but troubled daughter Kim Bauer. With apologies to the events of much later seasons that I did not stick around for, early Kim highlights (as in before she was written off/left the show) include getting kidnapped by terrorists, getting captured by a drug dealer, then arrested, then kidnapped again, etc. and even running into a mountain lion in the hills of Los Angeles. But what makes it all worse for me is that in Season 3 of ’24’, Kim goes from hapless dependent of Jack to hapless dependent who also works at CTU and is in a relationship with another CTU agent, the results of which amp the annoyance levels way up.

M. Enois Duarte

The action-comedy classic ‘Kindergarten Cop‘ features an entire classroom of barbaric, rotten rugrats. The one kid who has always stood out as both the most obnoxiously funny and memorably irritating is Miko Hughes’s Joseph. This is the little boy who gives Schwarzenegger’s undercover cop a quick anatomy lesson on the first day and continues to be a hilariously unpleasant snot-nose brat for the remainder of the movie. Later, he reveals the origins of his knowledge when he announces his father is a gynecologist, providing another gut-busting moment. For me, that’s the moment we essentially know this kid is terribly spoiled at home. In the end, Joseph is a lovable doofus.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

I’ve never actually subjected myself to ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective Jr.‘, so I can’t speak to how much of a nightmare this kid is to his parents. Well, I’m assuming that’s actually “parent,” singular, since this direct-to-video sequel didn’t exactly have the budget to wrangle in Jim Carrey as his proud papa (and there’s no Ace, Sr. credited in IMDb).

For whatever reason, I have willingly suffered through several YouTube clips. If you’re feeling masochistic, take a peek at this excerpt. That it’s shot off-screen and subtitled makes it all the more wonderfully agonizing:

I have a sizeable stack of movies about murderous kids, and I’d still brave zombie children or psychotic rugrats over Ace Ventura, Jr. any day of the week. I pity his poor mom, facing this little terror all by her lonesome.

Chris Boylan (Big Picture Big Sound)

Hmmm…. bad kids, huh? Well, a few movie children make me cherish my own 12-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son more than usual. Damien from ‘The Omen‘ is a true little shit. I mean, I know he’s the spawn of Satan and all, but when he’s around, bad things happen: a hanging nanny, an impaled priest, a decapitated photographer, packs of vicious roving Rottweilers, and murdered parents. (Spoiler alert! Oops, too late…) Anyway, if you want to feel better about your own demon child, watch ‘The Omen’ and see just how much worse it could be.

Josh Zyber

I understand that, in theory, ‘Home Alone‘ is supposed to be a heart-warming comedy about an adorable tyke who is accidentally abandoned by his neglectful parents and must use his ingenuity to save the family home from a pair of sneaky robbers. Millions of people bought into this premise back in 1990, enough to turn the movie into a huge blockbuster hit and spawn a series of sequels and spinoffs.

The thing is, little Kevin McCallister is a full-on sociopath who delights in torturing and physically harming others and destroying the house. The circumstances by which he got left home alone in the first place are also mostly his own fault. If I were this kid’s parent, I’d want to ditch him too.

Your Turn

What movie and TV kids are really just the worst? Tell us your picks in the Comments.

35 comments

  1. NJScorpio

    There was that segment, I believe from the Twlight Zone movie, about the kid who could make people dissapear with their minds. There was some sort of large rabbit monster, if I recall correctly. Really freaked me out. That, and the children in Children of the Corn, contributed to my apprehension about having kids.

  2. Timcharger

    Josh, another kid who had neglectful parents in films that were huge blockbusters and spawn a series of sequels and spinoffs, is this brat called Kylo. He was absolutely horrible to his father Han. You should definitely check out the latest film where Kylo purses his mother this time. Such a rotten kid. Perfect pick to watch for Mother’s Day weekend.

      • Thulsadoom

        Definitely save yourself, Josh… 😉 As a huge Star Wars fan, curiosity got the better of me recently, and I rented through Amazon…. Emo Darth is stunningly annoying and useless yet again, in a film so bad, he actually isn’t one of the worst things this time. 😉

  3. Charles Contreras

    The Good Son! Culkin’s character is, in my opinion, the ultimate little shit on screen, this was one hell of a good movie, though.

  4. Erik in Wisconsin

    My vote goes to Jeremy Black who played the various clones in The Boys from Brazil. He nailed the disgustingly spoiled and arrogant brat he was supposed to be. Superb cast all the way around, and still an enjoyable movie 40 years later.

  5. Bolo

    Calling Kevin in ‘Home Alone’ a “full-on sociopath” is pretty ridiculous. If you wanted to criticize the film for being too obvious and schmaltzy about spelling out his maturation over the course of the story, that would at least make more sense than somehow completely missing it.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      That kid is a monster. If you believe that he somehow matured over the course of the story, explain why he’s still a sadistic little f***k in Home Alone 2.

      • Bolo

        I don’t get what kind of empathy you expect to be shown to people who break into other people’s homes, steal their stuff, pointlessly vandalize the place by causing floods, and even enjoy intimidating children. You’re seriously siding with the burglars in this movies??? What, is Joe Pesci just misunderstood? Was Kevin just supposed to talk to them and use verbal persuasion to get them to reconsider their lives and go back to school and rework their “wet bandits” schtick into installing wells in third world villages?

        You don’t have to like the movie. But trying to paint the kid as some Patrick Bateman is the most head-slapping thing I’ll read all day.

        • Josh Zyber
          Author

          The kid should have called the cops and gotten out of the house. Instead, he took extreme sadistic pleasure in physically harming and torturing the robbers. They were just playthings to him, like a cat batting around a mouse it’s about to kill just because it enjoys watching its prey suffer.

          • cardpetree

            He was eight, the violent criminals were adults. It’s not Kevin’s fault that they were stupid and kept coming back for more.

          • Csm101

            In defense of the movie, if it would’ve ended that way, it would’ve of been extremely boring!
            ‘Home Alone’ the Zyber Cut
            “Hello my name is Kevin and there are men breaking into my house.”
            “Get out of there as fast as you can, we will send a unit out there immediately.”

            FIN
            roll credits

          • Josh Zyber
            Author

            All I’m saying is, Home Alone is a horror movie about an evil child tormenting his chosen victims. Macauley Culkin later remade the story without the jokes as The Good Son.

          • Bolo

            Except in this case, it’s the mouse who’s getting the best of two cats and that’s the reason it’s funny.

            Anyway, I look forward to your dismissal of ‘Die Hard’:

            “John McClane is a deranged serial killer who murders a building full of people to force his way back into the family that is better off without him and derail his estranged wife’s career.”

            and ‘Jaws’:

            “Three bullies gang up to stalk, torture, and kill a free-spirited fish just for being big.”

          • Hey Josh, all phones in ‘Home Alone’ were down due to a fallen branch in the beginning of the movie, remember? To quote the movie: “I wanted to let you know that your power is fixed, but the phone lines are a mess. It’s gonna take Ma Bell a couple of days to patch them up.”

          • William Henley

            Which was as unbelievable then as it is now, they just call out a contractor and its fixed in about 4 hours – it was a single branch in the suburbs. Phones were probably up by the end of the day.

            Unless the patch panel shorted out. Which is doubtful. As this was the early 90s, maybe Ma Bell was using the excuse to replace the old trunk line with a new one to handle more lines.

          • Yeah, but who is ‘they’? The family? They were in a rush to the airport, so no time to call or research a contractor. So who is going to contact the contractor? The whole street was gone on vacation. And even if someone called, many businesses would be closed during Christmas time (taking an extended weekend or break).

          • William Henley

            The electric repairman said very clearly that he fixed the electrical, but phones were a mess. A call would have been put in to the phone company, especially in the early 90s, where no one has cell phones and land line is your only connection to emergency services. In fact, they would have had to have been the ones to put in the call, as no one else would have been able to due to their phones being down. 🙂 The only ones who knew the entire street was going out of town was the crooks, so there is no reason to assume the phone company thought they could wait. Burglar alarms would use the phones to alert the monitoring company, so its still needed. This is a suburb of Chicago, not some rural area, I would be willing to bet that, in real life, the phones would have been working again by the end of the day, and they probably had crews on standby knowing a storm was coming in.

          • Josh Zyber
            Author

            Phone or no phone, the kid should have gotten out of the house and run to a neighbor. It’s totally implausible that every single person on his street had left town, but even if they had, I’m sure he could have found someone within a block or two who could help him and get word to the police.

            It’s a dumb movie all around.

          • Haha, this must be a case of nostalgia versus good taste. ‘Home Alone’ is one of my favorite movies of all time. Sorry for my crappy taste in movies.

          • William Henley

            I saw it six times at the theater. I got burned out, didn’t see it for about 10 years and then tried to rewatch it, and thought “I don’t remember it being this bad!”

      • EM

        Josh, if you haven’t seen it already, you might appreciate seeing the Christmas horror-thriller Better Watch Out, which directly references Home Alone (turning its title into a verb, even). Now there’s an angel-faced kid whose home you don’t want to invade—or be invited into. Wait till the twins are fast asleep, of course.

  6. Thulsadoom

    I’m gonna go with Hob, in Robocop 2. I don’t envy his mother… 😉 Having said that, he’s an awesome bad kid, unlike Culkin in Home Alone, who is genuinely annoying, bratty and seriously sadistic. He wouldn’t have turned away, like Hob did during the torture scene in Robo 2. He’d have grinned and laughed! 😁

  7. Guy

    John Connor. Has any kid ever caused more grief for their parents? Sent his father back in time to die and got killer robots sent after his mother on multiple occasions. You could feel bad for a kid that star-crossed, but then you meet him in T2 and find out he’s just the worst. The. Absolute. Worst. Even as a kid myself, I wanted the T-1000 to get him while everyone else ended up okay.

  8. EM

    I nominate Karen Cooper—Harry and Helen Cooper’s daughter in the original Night of the Living Dead. Not only did she turn out to be a gushing fount of utter disappointment to each of her parents, but she was beginning to turn “rotten” literally.

  9. William Henley

    I guess Problem Child is a given.

    Camp Nowhere is a good example. Kids con their parents into sending them to a non-existant camp, then pay some random guy to look after them for the summer.

    Saved By The Bell – Zack Morris – how is he not in jail?

    Another given – The Simpsons. I think we have all gotten so used to it, we forgot how controversal it was when it came out – the show pretty much made an icon out of Bart Simpson. Looking back on some of those early episodes, though, I am sure many parents nowadays wished they had a kid that well behaved.

    Along with animated shows, you have Stewie from Family Guy always trying to kill his mother (although that gag got old, and I don’t think they did anything with it in a few years).

    I guess that makes South Park a given.

    DragonBall Z – Gohan: “Sorry mom, I know you want me to go to school, but I am going to go pick a fight instead.” Of course, then you have Goku saying “I am proud of you son.” Actually, you could say that Goku is both a crappy father and husband – “Sorry ChiChi and kids, I decided I am going to abandon you for a year to train for a fight where I am probably going to die… again. Oh, I am leaving right now.” In some series, its worse “sorry, I could not tell you myself, but my best friend is going to tell you for me”

    Sailor Moon – well, Usagi is a whiney, lazy, selfish little brat, but if anything, her daughter is even worse. I mean, the kid seduces her own father and treats her mother like crap, all for the purpose of saving her mother and father in a future timeline. I guess despite the fact that the kid is 900 years old, she doesn’t understand “paradox” and the possibility that she could be erased from existance. Actually, the fact that she is 900 years old and still acting like a spoiled child is even more concerning, like she has a mental disorder or something.

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