A Brief Survey of TV Kids Who Are Basically Props

Last night, on The Walking Dead‘s supersize Season 2 premiere, little Carl Grimes (played by Chandler Riggs) finally wrenched the spotlight away from the adults on the show, for a few minutes. But now that his future is uncertain, to say the least, we got to thinking about how little we actually know about Carl — which reminded us of how many kids on TV are not characters so much as props. They’re there to look cute or give the illusion of a well-rounded family or provide a focal point for their parents’ anxieties.

Since there are tons of minor kid characters on TV, we made two rules for this list: 1. The child in question can’t be a baby, because a person who can neither walk nor talk can’t be expected to hold down his own story line. 2. The kid has to be the sibling or offspring of one of the show’s main characters. Peruse our picks for TV children who might as well be props after the jump, and add your suggestions in the comments.

Carl Grimes, The Walking Dead

What makes Carl Grimes fairly useless is that (at least until last night’s episode) he’s the sum total of the emotions and obligations adults project onto him. He’s the reason Rick feels the need to be such a righteous role model, he’s the physical embodiment of Lori’s guilt over shacking up with Shane, and he’s the primary inspiration they both have to keep moving. He’s also the one who’s most hurt and confused by Shane’s brusque behavior after Lori puts a definitive end to their tryst. But besides being generally innocent and sweet and justifiably fearful, there’s really no character there.