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Top 10 Live-Action TV Kids

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Tanina Drvar. Adorable, eccentric, smart-alecky, funny, or brave – they're the little people on TV who capture our hearts and make us tune in each week. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 live-action TV kids. For this list, we’ve looked at TV kids who started their respective series under the age of 15, and who made an impact with their roles on sitcoms or dramas. Special thanks to our user roxy for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Tanina Drvar.

Top 10 Live-Action TV Kids


Adorable, eccentric, smart-alecky, funny, or brave – they’re the little people on TV who capture our hearts and make us tune in each week. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 live-action TV kids.

For this list, we’ve looked at TV kids who started their respective series under the age of 15, and who made an impact with their roles on sitcoms or dramas.

#10: Cory Matthews
“Boy Meets World” (1993-2000)

Part of ABC’s TGIF line-up, “Boy Meets World” spanned seven years in the life of Cornelius Matthews, better known as Cory. At first portrayed as a sporty, wisecracking kid who wasn’t too interested in school, Cory later became more neurotic and insecure – but through it all, he was still the guy to solve all his group’s problems. Flanked by his best bud Shawn, his older brother Erik, and his longtime crush Topanga, and always getting sage advice from his teacher/principal/professor/neighbor Mr. Feeny, Cory navigates the ups and downs of high school, parties, girls, his first drink, college and finally marriage, with the wit and sincerity that won him many fans along the way.

#9: Arnold Jackson
“Diff’rent Strokes” (1978-86)

Gary Coleman will always be remembered for his portrayal of the adorable and funny Arnold Jackson. After both their parents pass away, Arnold and his older brother Willis move from Harlem to an upscale high-rise in the city to live with their new adopted father, Philip Drummond – or Mr. D as Arnold affectionately calls him. Best known for his inescapable catchphrase, Arnold was known as a schemer. But he also brought an endearing worldview to the show – one that was filled with both childhood innocence and humor, and was more often than not spot on.

#8: Darlene & D.J. Conner
“Roseanne” (1988-97)

Smart-mouthed Darlene Connor is probably one of the most sarcastic kids ever to grace American TV. A sporty tomboy, Darlene loves to taunt her older sister Becky and younger brother DJ. David Jacob, or DJ, is the youngest member of the Conner family for much of the series, and isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. But what makes the characters of Darlene and DJ so special is the fact that they are both believable: neither tries too hard to be cute, funny, or sophisticated – they’re just real kids. Add great writing to the mix, and you’ve got the recipe for a hit show!

#7: Michelle Tanner
“Full House” (1987-95)

Always quick to dispense advice, hand out warnings, and lend an ear to her uncles, Michelle Tanner was the bossy and mischievous youngest sister on the sitcom “Full House.” Played by the Olsen twins, she, along with her older sisters DJ and Stephanie, were your classic ‘90s sitcom kids. Known for catchphrases like “you got it dude” and “aw nuts,” Michelle – and in fact most members of the extended Tanner household – were big on the cheesy comeback, but the littlest member of the family scored highest on the cuteness scale.

#6: Manny Delgado
“Modern Family” (2009-)

How many middle school kids do you know who enjoy drinking espresso, talking marriage and kids with their decades-older stepsister, and writing love poems? An old soul trapped in a young man’s body, Manuel Alberto Delgado is perceptive and very smart, but also extroverted, confident, and a total romantic – none of which makes him especially popular with kids his age. He’s also got a keen sense of fashion and is often seen sporting a burgundy dinner jacket. One of the most original kids on modern TV, Manny clocks in at number 6 on our list.

#5: Wednesday & Pugsley Addams
“The Addams Family” (1964-66)

With their pale skin and dark hair, Wednesday and Pugsley Addams are anything but ordinary. With a rather ghoulish entourage, their hobbies – building crazy machines, playing with dangerous toys, raising spiders, and beheading dolls – seem quite normal, all things considered. When they venture out into the world, their interactions with so-called “normal” people are hilarious. In one episode, Pugsley attempts to join the Boy Scouts and his family becomes very concerned with his “odd” behavior and seeks the help of a psychiatrist. While the show only ran for two years, Wednesday and Pugsley remain two of the most original kids ever on TV.

#4: Arya Stark
“Game of Thrones” (2011-)

Badass Arya Stark is one of the bravest kids on TV. Starring on the insanely popular HBO show “Game of Thrones,” she’s the youngest girl from House Stark and is far more interested in swords and fighting than she is becoming a proper noblewoman. Amidst the backstabbing, plotting, and murder in the fictional land of Westeros, Arya must find a way not only to survive on her own, but also to avenge the deaths of her the many loved ones she’s lost in her short life. A courageous and fierce little thing, she is truly a force to be reckoned with.

#3: Kevin Arnold
“The Wonder Years” (1988-93)

Has any other television kid perfected the eyebrow raise as well as Kevin Arnold? Set in 1960s suburbia, “The Wonder Years” follows main character Kevin from middle school through to high school in the turbulent days of the 1960s. Full of nostalgia, sentimentality, and awesome music, the show will make you laugh, cry, and want to leaf through old yearbooks to find your first crush thanks to the events in nice-guy Kevin’s life. But, as far as insecure girl-crazy adolescent boys go, things don’t get much better than Kevin Arnold!

#2: Malcolm Wilkerson
“Malcolm in the Middle” (2000-06)

This show follows the trials and tribulations of a dysfunctional suburban family, as seen through the eyes of middle child Malcolm. A boy genius with an IQ of 165, Malcolm has a hard time fitting in and dealing with his bizarre and dimwitted family, whom he blames for pretty much everything wrong in his life. His large ego and intelligence often get him into hot water and he acts out accordingly – much to the amusement of viewers. It’s not easy being the middle child and Malcolm is often his own worst enemy.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Sally Draper
“Mad Men” (2007-15)
- Rudy Huxtable
“The Cosby Show” (1984-92)
- Zack & Cody Martin
“The Suite Life of Zack & Cody” (2005-08)
- Alfalfa
“The Little Rascals” (1955-)
- Eddie Munster
“The Munsters” (1964-66)

#1: Dennis Mitchell
“Dennis the Menace” (1959-63)

“Jeepers Mr. Wilson,” it should come as no surprise that the original menace to society sits at number one on our list. A well-meaning and kindhearted boy, Dennis Mitchell first came to life in comic strip form, and like his cartoon counterpart, he seems to always cause accidental havoc wherever he goes – usually at the expense of his poor neighbor Mr. Wilson. With his trusty slingshot always in the back pocket of his trademark overalls, Dennis was portrayed as the quintessential American boy and his many adventures have become television classics.

Do you agree with our list? Which TV kids would you want to hang out with? For more childish top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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