The Childfree in TV Shows

I recently queried folks on my facebook page about TV shows they knew of that have no characters with children, or shows that don’t involve pregnancy or children (at least so far), and people responded with more shows than I expected!

Here’s the list so far with links so you can them check out if you are not already familiar with a show–

Burn Notice, White Collar, Perfect Couples, Stargate, Warehouse 13, Criminal Minds, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, Royal Pains, Rizzoli & Isles, NCIS, Psych, Covert Affairs, Seinfeld (reruns), Taxi (reruns) Spooks, The Mentalist, CSI, Rules of Engagement, Lost Girl, Secret Diary of a Call Girl, Leverage, Human Target, The Defenders, Harry’s Law, The Chicago Code, The Good Guys, Nikita, The Closer.

What others can you think of (besides news shows and the like) ?  Do you see trends in the kind of shows that do not involved parenthood or kids, e.g., sci-fi, cop shows?

Now these shows may not involved pregnancy and kids, but that does not necessarily mean they always will, or that the characters are necessarily childfree.

So even better, are there any shows with no kids that, as Firecracker Mandy puts it, have characters that are “vocally childfree” and the show portrays their lives as  “awesome?”

That might be trickier…do you think? I don’t know of any. In any case, I am pleased that there seem to be more shows out there than I thought that are not child-centric…

17 thoughts on “The Childfree in TV Shows

  1. I always felt that Seinfeld was the best show for childfree people, not just because it was funny or New York oriented (I am from New York), but because the show’s attitude towards children was downright hostile!

    Besides all the characters being childfree (Elaine said in one episode how she did not want kids, the same episode Kramer had a vasecotmy), think about all the episodes in which children were portrayed negatively.

    In Seindfeld, for example:

    Kramer beats up kids in a karate class.

    Elaine encounters a nasty kid while babysitting.

    Jerry curses out a kid for ruining a cassette tape of his comedy act.

    George tosses kids aside to escape a kitchen fire.

    Jerry and Elaine are grossed out by that ugly baby in the Hamptons episodes.

    Law & Order (the original, especially) rarely had episodes involving children. Nearly all of the major characters did not have young children, and those who did we rarely ever saw their kids in any major role in any episodes.

    Star Trek (the original 1960s series and The Next Generation) was another good series which had little or no inclusion of children. TNG’s Wesley Crusher was seen as a teenager until he became a crew member, and TNG’s Worf had his kid in some episodes (and they were among the worst episodes IMHO). The other major characters in TNG had no children.

    LA Law was another good series which avoided children for the most part, until Roxanne got pregnant and that terrible plot line near the end of the fading series took up way too much time.

    Even a show like Married With Children portrayed children negatively, as Bud and Kelly were portayed as misfits/losers/sluts.

    1. Deegee, I love knowing you like Seinfeld 😉 I do too and agree that it is a good show for the cf…and anyone really because the humor is excellent!

  2. I think that How I Met Your Mother does a great job of portraying childfree characters. Both Barney and Robin have stated loudly and often that they don’t want children. Robin is freaked out by children, even when she consciously tries not to be (see the episode when she was dating the father of one of Lily’s kinder-gardeners); and Barney’s lifestyle is really not conducive to children.

    These two are close friends with Ted, who obviously wants/will have kids (that’s the whole premise of the show!), and with Marshall and Lily, who are in the process of deciding when to start their family.

    Not only does the show portray characters on opposite sides of the childed/childfree spectrum, but it portrays both sides without judgement or obvious bias one way or the other, either literally among the characters or with any kind of wink-and-nod implications. As huge fans of the show, my husband and I find that refreshing!

      1. It’s called “How I met Your Mother” which shows that the entire show is based around the fact that someone ends up meeting their dream spouse and creating a baby… because that’s the perfect happy ending, right? Ick.

  3. What a fantastic post and list that resulted from it! But I am curious about shows where they are childfree and fine with it. I was loving Jeff and Audrey on Rules of Engagement before they went down the route of her wanting kids, but now they’re adding kids into their mix. I don’t know of any that are just okay being the couple. It seems the writers always take it in the direction of the couple needs kids in order to be happy. Sadly.

    1. Yes I’d love examples of shows where the couples are clearly childfree — seems writers could find drama without having it have to do with kids, right? Larry David and jerry Seinfeld sure did…btw Love your site! ~L

  4. I would have said House until a) Cuddy went all baby-rabid (WHY do all career women on television HAVE to have a baby? Sheesh) and b) House got involved with her (and that right there killed the character for me. NO WAY would House be good with kids.

    I guess now it’s just another example of how Hollywood screws up good television shows.

  5. Glad to see Perfect Couples on the list. I was really excited when this show started because it portrays three couples, all married now, who are child-free and appear to be happy that way. I feel like even shows who are willing to show characters who clearly want to remain childfree only do so with unmarried character (like How I Met Your Mother, for example).

    This one focuses on three couples, none of whom appear to want kids but are clearly committed to one another (no Melrose Place-type shenanigans here). It’s still a new show so I won’t be surprised when the subject eventually comes up, but it’s refreshing to see a show where married couples can focus on things other than kids or when to start a family, etc. Like I said, it’s a pretty new show, but so far hasn’t had even a reference to the possiblity of a kid showing up (unless I’ve missed something). The writers seem to realize that couples can have humor and a fulfilling life without kids involved.

  6. Ya gotta love the characters of both Samantha (and, ultimately) Carrie on Sex and the City. The “A Woman’s Right to Shoes” episode should win a childfree emmy, it is so awesome. But overall, I agree with the vote for Seinfeld (and, also, love Curb Your Enthusiasm for similar reasons!)

  7. I would love to see an updated version of this post, five years on. Several of the shows in the list have fallen, but there must be new ones to add!

  8. Quite late to the party but I’ll add Parks and Recs. Jen openly despises kids and flaunts her child free freedom. The show also has a character that doesn’t like/want them and then his girlfriend gets pregnant and how he deals with that.

  9. Keep up the most excellent work! It is SO refreshing to find a childfree oasis on the Internet!

    I too am waiting with bated breath for more shows, although the current list is a good start! I’m a huge Stargate fan 🙂

    Below is a link to a (admittedly self-therapeutic) rant I just published on The Church of Parenthood. First post on the site, but plenty more to come. Enjoy!

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