A cross between the Manipulative Bastard
and the Child Prodigy
, and a subtrope of the Enfant Terrible
. This character always has a Xanatos Gambit
at the ready, and can play mind games that leave most adults in the dark (possibly justified as most of the adults around them will be clueless teachers, bumbling parents,
or otherwise useless adults
). If they are not from a wealthy family, they will devise elaborate business agendas or investment schemes to earn the money for their latest undertaking -- never mind that these characters are, as a rule, too young to do any of this without their parents present (most are between the ages of 7-12, as anything older is generally too old to be considered a prodigy. Younger examples, however, are possible). They will still be sucessful and, in the above cases, will manage to make more money in a weekend than most adults make in a year.
The Manipulative Prodigy is often subject to the "cute little kid" syndrome; whether or not this plays in their favor depends on the work. On one hand, being able to feign precious innocence may allow them to avoid suspect, or even to get what they want without having to lift a finger. On the other hand, their victims may not take them seriously, forcing them to more "drastic" measures.
Manipulative Prodigies almost always act their intellecual age,
and often, but not always, have skipped a number of grades; otherwise, expect them to be straight-A students
. They are often narcissistic, and will think it "cute" when a silly adult (or even just an older sibling) tries to get in the way of what they want, actually daring to think that they have a chance of succeeding! They also tend to have a "strong-shall-trample-the-weak" mindset, as they are often both hyperintelligent and emotionally cold, and may or may not be destined to learn an Aesop
Note that this refers to someone for whom this is their character
. A young, intelligent character who behaves like this in only one or two instances in the entire work -- for example, to exact revenge, or as part of a Thirty Xanatos Pileup
-- may be invoking this trope, but the trope itself refers to a character who behaves this way almost all the time.
- By the time it went off the air, Megan from Drake and Josh was this trope incarnate, with an extra dash of The Sociopath. She went to all manner of lengths -- from ordering strange things online and blaming her brothers to spying on them with a huge monitor hidden behind a picture in her room -- just for her own amusement. And their parents believed she was just a sweet little girl who could never do anything wrong right up until the end of the show.
- Artemis Fowl
- Stewie from Family Guy.
- Rico from Hannah Montana
- Little Suzy Johnson from Phineas and Ferb
- 10-year-old Katie from Big Time Rush, tricks, pranks, and manipulates Mr. Bitters on a regular basis.
- Piper Peckinpaw on Bucket and Skinner's Epic Adventures has apparently skipped several grades, is noted for being utterly heartless, and in one episode tried to take legal action against a teacher who gave her a B.
- Johan Liebert. He manipulated nearly everyone in 511 Kinderheim into killing each other...when he was ten.
- Jimmy Neutron's cousin Baby Eddie, who is basically a G-rated Stewie.
- In Bleach, Aizen was this to Shinji, and Gin was this to Aizen.
- Positive example: Jeremie Belpois of Code Lyoko who plays pretty much every adult in his life (and several in positions of high authority) for a chump by means of hacking, falsified documents (which come about because of hacking), and just plain excuses or using his image as a "good boy" and great student to get away with his ploys. However, as he's doing it all in the interest of saving humanity, we root for him.
- Oliver Watson, the protagonist of ''I Am A Genius Of Unspeakable Evil And I want To Be Your Class President''. At the age of twelve, he runs a global marketing empire built on shady deals and mass-market piracy, using a wealthy recovering alcoholic as a pawn (Oliver was seven when he recruited said pawn). Interstingly, his empire began in a comparitively Poke the Poodle way, with five-year-old Oliver stealing $20 from his mother's purse to go play bingo, where he won $500 and bribed his grandmother not to tell. (Emphasis was on comparitively.)