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Respect has nothing to do with how long you've been on this Earth... but you're probably too young to understand that.
Nudge the Pirate, The Wind Waker

So you have a group of people, all adults, and probably badasses. Who will you leave in charge of the bunch? Someone even bigger, more experienced, and tougher than they are, right? Not this time--the leader is a person younger than all the rest, maybe even a kid. This usually shows that the young leader is smarter than his or her adult lackies, or that some manner of higher authority (usually their powerful parents) has placed them in charge. In any case, this usually makes for an interesting character dynamic. Royalty fall under A Child Shall Lead Them, while corporate versions are the Grade School CEO.

Related to Improbable Age and Ensign Newbie.



  • The Pope in Trinity Blood, pictured above.
  • In Bleach, Toshiro is Captain of the 10th squad by virtue of being a Child Prodigy (not quite Improbable Age, since he's still Really 700 Years Old, but he's a lot less physically mature than the other captains). To the point where his lieutenant (herself an Adult Child who acts a lot less maturly than him) was the one who recruited him.
  • Code Geass has a 16 years old sub-Viceroy in season 1... A Viceroy as old as this in season 2... Someone who tells Zero he doesn't mind him being a student... Should we speak about empress of China? Or Emperor Lelouch? Empress Nunnally?


  • The leader of the drug gang in RoboCop 2 is a boy no older than 12.
  • The Vietnamese drug dealer boss in Tropic Thunder is no older than 10.
  • Master and Commander depicted very young midshipmen as naval officers (true to history).


  • Happens a couple times in the Warrior Cats series. Scourge takes over the city cats when he's only a kit, simply because of his fighting skill and being the most bloodthirsty cat. In the first series, main character Fireheart is noted to be an extremely young leader; Bluestar made him deputy at a young age, and the warrior code states that deputy succeeds leader. If his training had taken the usual six-moons length, he would have been a warrior for only two moons at the age he became deputy.
  • Animorphs got into this at the end of the series, when the group finally went to the Army for help. The adult soldiers still ended up deferring to Jake, who was the Animorphs' leader and had way more experience with the Yeerks than they did. He was about 16 or 17 at the time.
  • Most young leaders in A Song of Ice and Fire get there by means of A Child Shall Lead Them (any boy lord or boy king), or Young Conqueror (Daenerys Targaryen, along with a few in the history books). One of the only exceptions is Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, who is voted to his position. His friend tells him that he's not the youngest (who was ten when voted in), but he's up there.

Live Action TV

  • Doogie Howser, M.D. to his staff.
  • One episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation was about Wesley, 15 year old Acting Ensign, being given his first command position as leader of an away mission. Everyone else on the team were actual ensigns, much older than he and have already graduated from Starfleet.
  • Game of Thrones is full of this trope. Robb Stark, 17, leader of the army of North, ward of the North, lord of Winterfell. Bran Stark, 10, acting lord of Winterfell. Robin Arryn, 10, lord of the Vale. Joffrey Baratheon, 14, king of the Seven Kingdoms.
    • Most of them have been aged up from from where they were in the books.
  • Merlin has got into this since Uther's death in season 4. Granted, Arthur is in his early 20s, but he's still younger than all of his knights and advisors and such.
  • In Austin and Ally, Ally (15) is head of the mall merchants' association, with no explanation given as to why.

Video Games

  • Tormod from Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance is the leader of the Laguz emancipation army despite being somewhere between 12-14 when it forms, and only 15-17 by the time the sequel roles around
  • Tetra in The The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker, a girl not much older than Link who leads a crew of pirates. It's explained that the adult pirates respect her for having taken on the captain's responsibilities at a very young age, following the death of her mother (their former captain).
  • Ion in Tales of the Abyss was named Fon Master (the equivalent of the Pope) before he was even twelve. Things get even more extreme when it's revealed that Ion is actually a clone of the original Ion who died, making the current Ion mentally two years old.

Western Animation

  • Master Cyclonis, the Evil Overlord and leader of the Talons, from Storm Hawks. When she and Aerrow first meet, they're both surprised at how young the other is.
  • Numbuh 362, or Rachel Mackenzie, from Codename: Kids Next Door through out most of the series carries out the title of Supreme Leader of the Kids Next Door, with every KND Operative serving under her.
    • Nearly all of her inferiors are about the same age as she is, though.
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