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Older Characters in Children's Animated Television
Programs: A Content Analysis of Their Portrayal
Recent research on television reports that 99% of American children
live in a household with one television set, 50% have three or more TVs in
their home, and 36% have a TV in their bedroom (Kaiser Family Foundation,
2003). Television has become an integral part of children's lives, with
most spending more time watching television — about 3 hours per day — than
having "meaningful conversations" with their parents (Bar-on, 1999, p.
1152). Family rooms in most American homes are even organized for
television viewing and not for conversation. According to the Kaiser Family
Foundation study, children as young as 12 months are beginning to view
television frequently, with videos, DVDs and television programs that
target these very young children. The effect that television has on
children continues to be a topic of research, including studies on
aggressive and violent behavior (Miller, 2003); physical activity and
obesity (Dietz & Gortmaker, 1985; Faith et al., 2001); lower academic
performance (Comstock & Paik, 1991; Williams, Haertel, Haertel & Walberg,
1982); and stereotyped behaviors in matters of gender roles (Eick, 1998;
Powell & Ables, 2002), race (Gardner, 1998; Gupta, Nwosa, Nadel & Inamdar,
2001), and age.
Because young children have a difficult time telling the difference
between fantasy and reality, they are highly susceptible to the socializing
effects of television, especially those shows on children's television
channels and animated programs (Miller, 2003). Traditionally, parents,
teachers, friends and clergy have had the responsibility for the
socialization of children; however, in today's world the mass media play an
ever-increasing role in this socialization process (Signorielli, 2001).
Witt (1997) stated that in addition to the models of behavior provided by
parents and peers, "a further reinforcement of acceptable and appropriate
behavior is shown to children through the media, in particular, television"
(p. 254). Because television has a limited amount of time to tell a story,
they rely on stereotypical portrayals to get their points across quickly
with the intent of appealing to the emotions of the viewer rather than
their intellect (Signorielli, 2001). Social or observational learning
theory (Bandura & Walters, 1963) asserts that viewers, especially children,
imitate the behaviors of television characters just as they do parents,
siblings, and friends. For children, television provides a simplistic set
of rules and behaviors for how they should act and respond in certain
situations and to certain groups of people.
Another theory that helps explain television's socializing effect on
children is cultivation theory. This theory contends that repeated exposure
to television's stereotypical images cultivates beliefs, assumptions and
common conceptions of societal facts, norms, and values in viewers and that
such exposure influences viewers' conceptions of reality, standards or
judgment, attitudes, thoughts, and behavior (Gerbner & Gross, 1976;
Gerbner, Gross, Morgan & Signorielli, 1994). Therefore, we can assume that
children who are exposed to stereotypical portrayals of older individuals
on television could have a distorted view of how older individuals really
are in society. This is especially true if their real life experiences are
not different from what they see on television. If children do this, as
many studies have suggested, then it is important to examine the content of
the programs they watch (i.e., animated programs) to determine what, if
any, stereotypical images exist.
This study will attempt to further the research on age stereotyping
by examining the portrayals of older characters in children's animated
television programs. The effects on the audience members will not be
determined by this data, but a description will be provided of the content
of animated television programs and, more specifically, how older people
are represented, portrayed, and displayed for an audience of children.
Stereotypes of Older People
As the baby boomers increase in age, the face of the American
population will change dramatically. It is projected that the number of
Americans age 65 and older will be 82 million by 2050, an increase of 225%
from the year 2000 (SOURCE, ????). In fact, as the population of older
people continues to grow, older adults will begin to outnumber teenagers by
a 2-to-1 ratio (Doka, 1992). However, in the United States, aging has not
traditionally been associated with increased status and respect as it has
in many other countries. So, even with their growing numbers, older
individuals must continue to cope with the problems of negative attitudes
toward them, their ways of thinking, and their abilities. Isaacs and
Bearison (1986) compare this negative attitude to "a prejudice that is
similar to that of racism and sexism" (p. 175). The negative attitudes are
based on assumptions that older individuals have diminished physical and
mental abilities, even though research shows that today's older adults are
more physically active and in better physical and mental health than those
in any previous generation (Wellner, 2003).
Stereotypes generally result from a lack of information or
misinformation about a group as a whole or individual members of that
group. Miller, Miller, McKibbin, and Pettys (1999) stated that "negative
stereotypes of the elderly have been described as generalizations and
over-simplifications of characteristics of elderly individuals that produce
demeaning and ridiculing portraits of the group" (p. 321). As Palmore
(1990) explains, negative stereotypes of the elderly are "the underpinnings
of ageism which involves prejudice and discrimination against older people"
(p. 25). A few of the most commonly held negative stereotypes of older
individuals include the following: "Old people are institutionalized," "Old
people are in poor health," "Old people are senile, constipated, or
incontinent," and "Old people are either extremely poor or very wealthy"
(Deets, 1993, p. 134).
Research in the areas of the stereotypes and media portrayals of
attitudes toward older people has found that the negative opinions are
widespread and consistent throughout the media. For example, the percentage
of older people depicted in the media is far less than their actual
population percentage (Bramlette-Solomon & Subramanian, 1999; Peterson,
1992; Robinson, Duet & Smith, 1995; Robinson, 1998) and older males are far
more likely to appear in the media than older females (Hiemstra, Goodman,
Middlemiss, Vosco & Ziegler, 1983; Swayne & Greco, 1987; Ursic, et al.,
1986). Studies have also examined how different generations view the older
population. For example, research has looked at children's views of older
people (Blunk & Williams, 1997; Falchikov, 1990; Newman, Faux, & Larimer,
1997; Seefeldt & Ahn, 1990; Williams & Blunk, 1999), young adults' views
(Hummert & Garstka, 1994; Pecchioni & Croghan, 2002; Prudent & Tan, 2002),
and even adults' and older adults' views of the stereotypes of growing old
(Bradley & Longino, 2001; Hummert & Garstka, 1994; Robinson, Popovich,
Gustafson & Fraser, 2003).
Researchers believe that individual attitudes toward older people are
learned social responses that are a result of the culture as well as their
experiences (e.g., having little contact with older people) (Kocarnik &
Ponzetti, 1991; Kupetz, 1993). For example, Isaacs and Bearison (1986)
found that by the time children enter elementary school, they have "already
begun to assimilate negative stereotypes about the aged" (p. 192). Seefeldt
and Ahn (1990) discovered that while children are in school, they are
exposed to even more negative stereotypes, which they then attribute to
older individuals. Other researchers have consistently found that these
stereotypes subsequently affect the way young children describe and feel
about older people (Blunk & Williams, 1997; Falchikov, 1990; Isaacs &
Bearison, 1986; Middlecamp & Gross, 2002; Seefeldt, 1987). For example,
researchers reported that when preschool children were asked to describe
the way older people look and act, the children used such phrases as, "all
wrinkled and short," "chew funny," "don't go out much," and "have heart
attacks and die" (Jantz, Seefeldt, Galper, & Serlock, 1976).
Examining how children feel about the aging process, Seefeldt (1984)
reported that children had negative feelings about growing old because
older people were considered to be less helpful, uglier, dirtier, and less
healthy than younger people. Also, children as young as three years old
said they were "afraid and disgusted by idea of growing old" (Rich, Myrick
& Campbell, 1984, p. 490). Children believe that younger adults are more
fun, nicer looking, more physically able, and more preferred over older
adults (Miller, Blalock & Ginsburg, 1984). Findings from a study by
Middlecamp and Gross (2002) indicated that children held significant levels
of prejudice when interacting with older adults and that they were more
prejudiced against older women than older men.
To determine if children use stereotypes to describe older people,
Falchikov (1990) had a group of 10- and 11-year-olds draw pictures of a
young woman and man and an old woman and man. The children's drawings
showed a considerable degree of difference between the way the children
drew the young woman and man and the way the children drew the older
people. The pictures of the young man and woman showed them with modern
hairstyles and clothing, while the pictures of the older man and woman
included wrinkles, canes or wheelchairs, glasses, slippers, and hearing
aids. Falchikov states that the drawings of the older people "bear a
striking resemblance to the stereotyped portrayals of old men and old women
in American children's literature" (p. 92).
If children's perceptions of older people resemble the characters
they see in picture books and read about in children's literature, then one
has to wonder what influence television has on forming the perceptions
children have of older adults. Research has shown that society's negative
stereotypes of older individuals and of growing old are reflected in the
media (Bishop & Krause, 1984). In a 1984 study, Bishop and Krause examined
the depiction of age and aging in Saturday morning television. They looked
at the three major networks at the time (NBC, ABC, and CBS) to determine
the frequency of portrayals of older characters, the quality of life of the
older characters, themes relating to aging, and references to old age.
Their results indicated that aging was not a dominant feature of Saturday
morning cartoons and that older people were of "little importance or
concern" (p. 93). The authors summarized their finding by stating that the
images of older people in television cartoons are just like those in
children's literature, namely that the aged are portrayed as only "partial
people; they are not developed; they are not necessary to the real action
that transpires around them" (p. 94).
The goal of this paper is to assess the presence and portrayal of older
characters in children's animated television programs by answering the
following research questions:
RQ1. How many older characters appear in children's animated television
RQ2. In what type of roles (major or minor) do older characters appear?
RQ3. What type of people do the older characters portray?
RQ4. What personality traits do the older characters possess?
RQ5. What physical characteristics do the older characters possess?
RQ6. Is the overall portrayal of older characters in children's animated
programs positive or negative?
The sampling frame for this study was taken from five network
television stations that broadcast children's animated programs throughout
the week and on Saturdays. ABC has ABC Kids on Saturday mornings for 3
hours, FOX broadcasts FOX Kids on Saturday mornings for 4 hours, the WB has
the Kid's WB weekdays after school for 2 hours and on Saturday mornings for
5 hours, Nickelodeon broadcasts animated programs during the major portion
of its programming, and the Cartoon Network is dedicated to children's
animated programs. To provide an even assessment of each network, a total
of 9 hours were videotaped of each network during randomly selected days of
the week and on Saturday (FOX and ABC were available only on Saturday)
during of October 2003, for a total of 45 hours of observations. No attempt
was made to control for duplication of programs because new characters were
introduced in each episode. Each older character's portrayal was coded only
once; therefore, if they appeared in an additional episode, they were
simply counted and added to the total number of older characters appearing
in the programs.
A coding sheet was devised to assist in noting information about each of
the old characters. The information used to create the coding sheet was
taken from similar content analysis studies whose instruments were found to
be valid and reliable (Bishop & Krause, 1984; Swayne & Greco, 1987;
Robinson et al., 1995; Ursic et al., 1986). Two independent coders examined
each of the animated programs to identify any older characters and their
characteristics. The coders were allowed to view the episodes and
characters as many times as necessary to ensure accuracy.
The coders were instructed to identify all older characters (age 55 and
older) using the following subjective criteria: (1) an appearance of
retirement, (2) extensive gray hair, (3) wrinkles of the skin, (4)
extensive loss of hair or balding, (5) cracking voice, (6) use of an aid
such as a cane or wheelchair, (7) the parent of a son or daughter who is
middle-aged or older, and ( 8) evidence of grandchildren or
great-grandchildren (Gantz et al., 1980; Bishop & Krause, 1984; Peterson,
1992; Robinson, 1998; Swayne & Greco, 1987). Just as Bishop and Krause
(1984) discovered, the coders found that classifying characters by age was
not difficult because older characters are "depicted in a fashion that
accentuates personal features" and that their characteristics are "not
subtle or complex" (p. 92).
Only the older people whose appearances in the program were essential
in telling the story or who had a speaking part were coded (i.e., the
characters had major or minor roles). Characters that made brief
appearances (e.g., sitting in the background, a passerby, a member of a
crowd) were not included in the analysis. The older characters were
identified first as "Human" or "Nonhuman." Older characters that were
nonhuman (e.g., a robot or an animal) but could still be identified as
having human characteristics were coded. After a character was identified
as being old, the coders then identified their role in the episode, their
personality traits, and all their physical characteristics. Finally, an
evaluation was made of the older character's overall portrayal as either
positive or negative.
In an attempt to minimize any coder bias that may have existed in the
findings, the data from each of the coders were compared to create one set
of results that was representative of both coders. Any questions or
discrepancies that arose during the process were discussed by the coders
and corrected. When a disagreement did arise, the coders were allowed to
review the episode and character in question together so a decision could
From the 45 hours of children's animated programming coded, the
coders viewed 121 different episodes, of which 62 (52%) had at least one
older character. There were a total of 1,356 characters, with 107 (8%)
coded as older characters. Twenty-five of the older characters were
duplicated in episodes, leaving 82 older characters to be coded. Table 1
provides details on the total number of characters and older characters
from each network. The Cartoon Network had the largest number of older
characters with 30, but Kid's WB had the largest percentage of older
characters with 11%. ABC Kids had the fewest older characters with 15,
which was 5% of their total characters. Of the 62 episodes with an older
character, six episodes (10%) contained a plot that centered on the older
(Table 1 About Here)
Table 2 clearly shows that the majority (77%) of older animated
characters were male and that each of the networks had more male characters
than females. ABC Kids
was more evenly divided by gender (54% male and 46% female), while FOX Kids
and Kid's WB had the largest disparity, with FOX Kids portraying 15 (88%)
males and 2 (12%) females and Kid's WB portraying 16 (94%) males and only 1
(Table 2 About Here)
Table 3 indicates that the race of the older characters was predominately
Caucasian (75% of all older characters), leaving only 10 minority
characters. Two of the networks (Nickelodeon and FOX) had only Caucasian
characters — their only non-Caucasian characters were nonhuman.
The older characters were most often seen in minor roles (68%). When the
character portrayals were examined (see Table 4), the older characters were
most often shown as a "Worker/Boss" (18%), "Teacher/Instructor" (18%), or
All three of these roles were considered positive character portrayals.
There were, however, 11 older characters (13%) portrayed as the "Villain"
in the animated programs. The villains, in each of the episodes, were
negative characters. The largest percentage was the "Other" (26%) category,
which included all characters whose specific role was generic or could not
(Table 4 About Here)
The personality traits of the older characters were also examined,
and the results are shown in Table 5. Because many of the characters
possessed multiple personality traits, coders were instructed to identify
all the personality traits of each character. The list of personality
traits was taken from a literature review and represents positive and
negative stereotypes associated with older individuals. Eight of the
personality traits were determined to be positive, and 11 were determined
to be negative. The most common personality trait was "Intelligent," with
30 of the 82 older characters (37%) described as an intelligent character.
The other top personality traits included "Angry" (28%), "Happy" (22%), and
"Senile/Crazy" (18%). Some numbers of importance include FOX Kids' 11
"Intelligent" characters and the Cartoon Network's 8 "Angry" characters and
10 "Senile/Crazy" characters. Overall, the characters were described as
having 59% positive personality traits and 41% negative personality traits.
(Table 5 About Here)
In addition to personality traits, the coders examined all of the
physical characteristics of each older character. The list of physical
characteristics (see Table 6) was also gathered from a review of the
literature and represents the typical characteristics used to describe an
older person. While some of the characteristics listed are negative (e.g.,
"sick," "slow moving," and "ugly"), others are simply used to describe
older people and are not considered positive or negative. The most common
physical characteristic for older characters was "Gray hair" (82%). Other
physical characteristics with high percentages of commonality include
"Bald/Balding" (39%), "Glasses" (26%), "Wrinkles" (31%), "Ugly" (21%),
"Active/Healthy" (21%), and "Overweight" (21%).
(Table 6 About Here)
Finally, the coders were asked to determine, based on the overall
representation of the older character, if the portrayal was positive or
negative. To do this, coders evaluated the role of the character, the
personality traits, and the physical characteristics when making their
decision. The results (see Table 7) indicate that a large percentage (38%)
of older characters were portrayed in a negative manner, with only 51 of
the 82 characters having an overall positive portrayal. Nickelodeon (67%),
ABC Kids (69%), and FOX Kids (76%) all had large percentages of positive
portrayals. The two percentages that stand out most, however, are the 55%
negative portrayals on the Cartoon Network and the 41% on Kid's WB.
This study was designed to examine how older characters are
represented, portrayed, and displayed in animated television programs for
an audience of children. From the results, we found that only a small
portion (8%) of the characters in the animated programs were old, which is
consistent with other studies that have determined that the older
population is underrepresented in the media (Bramlette-Solomon &
Subramanian, 1999; Peterson, 1992; Robinson et al., 1995; Robinson, 1998;
Swayne & Greco, 1987; Ursic et al. 1986; Bishop & Krause, 1984). A large
number of episodes (51%) did have at least one older character, still, with
only 8% of the characters being old and just 6 of the 121 episodes focusing
on the older characters, it can be stated, just as Bishop and Krause (1984)
discovered, that older characters are not a dominant feature of children's
animated television programs. This finding is especially discouraging when
you consider the number of children (78% of children ages 4-6) who watch TV
and the amount of time (about three hours per day) they spend with this
medium each day (Bar-on, 1999; Kaiser Family Foundation, 2003).
The representation of older characters in children's animated
television programs is also similar to findings in other types of
programming and media. For example, animated programs have more older male
characters (77%) than older female characters (23%), which is much
different from the world we live in, where older women outnumber older men
because they have a longer life expectancy (U.S. Census Bureau, 2002).
Another important finding is the lack of older characters from minority
groups in these programs. The results of this study indicate that out of
the 62 older characters, there was only one older African American
character (1%) (Suga Mama on The Proud Family), four Hispanic characters
(5%), and five Asian characters (6%). These percentages are far less than
the actual United States population numbers, where the 55+ population
includes 14.8% African American, 10.3% Hispanic, and 14.7% Asian (U.S.
Census Bureau, 2002).
The older characters were featured predominately in minor roles
(68%) where they were given a small speaking part or were of minor
importance to the scene. This provides support for the Bishop and Krause
(1984) findings that older characters are of little importance in most
programs and in many cases are simply an afterthought.
Older characters were given a variety of roles on the shows, with
the roles of "Worker/Boss" (18%) and "Instructor/Teacher" (18%) being the
most common. Older characters are typically used in these positive roles
because they are seen as the only ones who have the necessary knowledge and
experience to be believable in such a role (Davis & Davis, 1985). The
"Grandparent" role was also a common (11%) and positive role for older
characters. Grandparents are used to support the children, who are the main
characters in the shows, or to replace a parent who is away and cannot
raise the child (e.g., in Hey Arnold and Sonic). However, a disturbing
result in the character portrayals is that 11% of the older characters were
used as the "Villain." The villains included characters like a mad
scientist, a woman who kidnapped children and locked them in cages, an
alien, a military general, the Grim Reaper, and a criminal setting out to
steal money. This role of villain is an extremely negative stereotype of
older people and one that affects not only the way children see and feel
about older people, but it may also add to their level of prejudice
(Middlecamp & Gross, 2002).
Personality traits were coded to determine which specific positive
and negative stereotypes were used to portray older people. Although more
characters were described as having positive personality traits (59%),
there was a large number of characters with negative personality traits
(41%) including "Angry," "Senile/Crazy," "Forgetful," and "Evil." This
finding may give some indication as to why children entering elementary
school have already begun to develop negative stereotypes about the aged
(Isaacs & Bearison, 1986). The real danger of portraying older characters
in negative ways, on a medium that specifically targets children, is that
this is how children will believe older people really are and how they
really behave. Researchers have found that these stereotypes can affect the
way children describe and feel about older people for years to come (Blunk
& Williams, 1997; Falchikov, 1990; Isaacs & Bearison,1986; Middlecamp &
Gross, 2002; Seefeldt, 1987).
In addition to personality traits, older people are often described
by their physical characteristics. Table 6 shows what physical
characteristics were most commonly used to portray older animated
characters. Not surprisingly, "Gray hair," "Bald/Balding," "Glasses," and
"Wrinkles" topped the list. These characteristics, used specifically to
designate age, were not seen as being either positive or negative. However,
there were a number of negative physical stereotypes used to portray the
characters (e.g., "Ugly," "Overweight," "Toothless," "Slow moving," "Uses a
physical aid," "Loss of sight" and "Loss of hearing"). Interestingly
enough, past research has found that when children were asked to describe
older people, they described them as ugly, less healthy, wrinkled, lonely,
using canes and wheelchairs, and in need of glasses and hearing aids (Jantz
et al., 1976; Seefeldt, 1984; Falchikov, 1990). These descriptions appear
to be a direct reflection of the images of older people that children see
every day in animated programs.
The overall portrayal of older characters was predominately positive
(62%), which is an increase from the 52% that Bishop and Krause found in
their study of cartoons in 1984. However, that is only a 10% increase over
a period of 20 years. There should be a concern that such a large
percentage of negative older characters (38%) exists in children's animated
programs, particularly when researchers have consistently found that
children possess stereotypes of older people even before they enter
elementary school. This research clearly indicates where many children are
seeing these negative stereotypes. If television, as Witt (1997) suggests,
reinforces acceptable and appropriate behaviors, then what children are
learning from animated programs is that older people do have negative
characteristics and that they should be afraid and disgusted by the idea of
growing old (Rich, Myrick, & Campbell, 1984).
While not specifically coded, some of the comments by the younger
characters about the older characters and some of the storylines are worth
discussing because they add directly to the negative portrayals. For
example, in an episode of Mucha Lucha (a show about Hispanic wrestlers),
the children are sent to the store to get some "denture glue" for their
grandfather who keeps losing his teeth. Later in that episode, when the
grandfather is going to wrestle, one of the children yells out to him,
"You're old and your bones are brittle and you don't see too well anymore,
but don't let that stop you." On an episode of Disney's Kim Possible, the
main character, Kim, says about her grandmother, "She's just so old, like
she's from another planet." On other programs, an older teacher turns into
a piñata and the children break her, an older woman is carried across the
street because she is moving too slow, and a group of older people are
turned into zombies.
Animated programs are created for a specific audience of children
who, in many ways, learn acceptable behaviors and attitudes from these
shows (Emmers-Sommer & Allen, 1999). When animated programs portray certain
groups of people in a consistent, unvarying manner or stereotype them,
children begin to believe that the images they see are acceptable and
normal. Even though the largest percentage of older characters in this
study were positive, there were enough negative images and characteristics
that children are learning at a young age (as early as 12 months) that
older characters are of little importance to the programs, that they are
portrayed as; angry, senile, and crazy; and that they are often the
villain. In fact, for the past 20 years, animated television programs have
shown older characters in this manner (Bishop & Krause, 1984).
This research provides a vital step toward understanding why
children entering school have already developed stereotyped beliefs about
older people. Television and animated programs may not be the only cause of
these stereotypes, but the results of this study clearly indicate that they
have contributed to the cultivation of children's beliefs and attitudes by
creating characters who are unvarying and are consistently shown in a
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Total Number of Characters and Older Characters by Network
Total Number Total Non-Old Total Older % of Older
Network of Characters Characters Characters Characters
Nickelodeon 369 347 22 6%
Cartoon Net. 286 256 30 10%
ABC Kids 297 282 15 5%
FOX Kids 230 209 21 9%
Kid's WB 174 155 19 11%
TOTAL 1356 1249 107 8%
Gender of the Older Characters (n = 82)
Network Males Females TOTAL
Nickelodeon 10 (67%) 5 (33%) 15
Cartoon Net. 15 (75%) 5 (25%) 20
ABC Kids 7 (54%) 6 (46%) 13
FOX Kids 15 (88%) 2 (12%) 17
Kid's WB 16 (94%) 1 (6%) 17
TOTAL 63 (77%) 19 (23%) 82
Race of the Older Characters (n = 82)
Caucasian African Hispanic Asian
Network American American American American Nonhuman
Nickelodeon 14 0 0 0 1
Cartoon Net. 15 0 0 1 4
ABC Kids 9 1 2 1 0
FOX Kids 12 0 0 0 5
Kid's WB 11 0 2 3 1
TOTAL 61 (75%) 1 (1%) 4 (5%) 5 (6%) 11 (14%)
Character Portrayal of Older Characters (n = 82)
Cartoon ABC FOX Kids
Network Nickelodeon Network Kids Kids WB TOTAL
Worker/Boss 3 3 2 3 4 15 (18%)
Teacher/Instructor 3 1 4 2 4 15 (18%)
Grandparent 3 2 2 1 3 11 (13%)
Villain 0 4 0 3 4 11 (13%)
Parent 1 2 1 3 0 7 (9%)
Mayor 0 1 0 1 0 2 (3%)
Other 5 7 4 3 2 21 (26%)
Personality Traits of Older Characters
Network Nick Cartoon ABC FOX WB TOTAL
Intelligent1 5 1 6 11 7 30 (37%)
Angry2 4 8 3 4 4 23 (28%)
Happy1 4 5 5 4 4 22 (27%)
Senile/Crazy2 1 10 2 3 2 18 (22%)
Friendly1 3 2 3 0 6 14 (17%)
Eccentric1 3 3 0 3 4 13 (16%)
Conservative1 0 2 2 0 2 7 (9%)
Forgetful2 1 3 0 0 1 5 (6%)
Evil2 0 2 0 0 2 4 (5%)
Wise1 0 0 1 0 3 4 (5%)
Humorous1 1 0 2 1 0 4 (5%)
Uncooperative2 0 1 0 0 2 3 (4%)
Grumpy2 0 0 3 0 0 3 (4%)
Mean2 0 0 1 0 2 3 (4%)
Nosey2 1 0 1 0 0 2 (2%)
Object of ridicule2 1 1 0 0 0 2 (2%)
Helpless2 2 0 0 0 0 2 (2%)
Overly affectionate2 0 0 1 0 0 1 (1%)
Helpful1 0 0 0 0 1 1 (1%)
1 = positive
2 = negative
Physical Characteristics of Older Characters
Network Nick Cartoon ABC FOX WB TOTAL
Gray hair1 14 14 10 13 16 67 (82%)
Bald/Balding1 6 7 3 8 8 32 (39%)
Glasses 6 8 7 3 2 26 (32%)
Wrinkles 3 6 3 5 8 25 (31%)
Ugly 2 6 3 4 1 17 (21%)
Active/Healthy 5 2 6 0 4 17 (21%)
Overweight 2 4 5 2 4 17 (21%)
Toothless 3 3 1 2 1 10 (12%)
Slow moving 0 3 2 1 2 8 (10%)
Use of physical aid 0 2 3 0 1 6 (7%)
Loss of sight 0 1 1 1 2 5 (6%)
Loss of hearing 1 0 2 0 0 3 (4%)
Sick 0 1 0 1 0 2 (2%)
Wig/Toupee 0 0 1 0 0 2 (2%)
Dentures 0 0 1 0 0 1 (1%)
Hunched over 0 0 1 0 0 1 (1%)
Overall Portrayal of Older Characters (n = 82)
Network Positive Negative
Nickelodeon 10 (67%) 5 (33%)
Cartoon Net. 9 (45%) 11 (55%)
ABC Kids 9 (69%) 4 (31%)
FOX Kids 13 (76%) 4 (24%)
Kid's WB 10 (59%) 7 (41%)
TOTAL 51 (62%) 31 (38%)
Older Characters in Animated Programs 26