Created By: SteamGothJuly 10, 2011 Last Edited By: SteamGothFebruary 8, 2012

Manipulative Prodigy

A cross between the Manipulative Bastard and the Child Prodigy

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
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.

Examples:

  • 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.)
Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • July 10, 2011
    cityofmist
  • July 20, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Futher clarification of what qualifies and what doesn't might be helpful.
  • July 20, 2011
    SteamGoth
    Could you elaborate on your meaning, please? What do you need clarified?
  • July 20, 2011
    SteamGoth
    • 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.
  • July 21, 2011
    crazysamaritan
    Why do we need this?
  • July 21, 2011
    cityofmist
    Because it's a character type? We do seem to have a lot of those.
  • July 21, 2011
    crazysamaritan
    It's not a character type, you wrote it as the combination of two established character types.
  • July 21, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    Yeah unless the combination has additional traits then just the two combined tropes encompass, then it's not a trope in it's own right.
  • July 21, 2011
    Angewomon
    Why can't a character type be a combination of two or more character types? For example, wouldn't Enfant Terrible be a combination of Deliberately Cute Child, Creepy Child, Devil In Plain Sight and The Sociopath?
  • July 21, 2011
    SteamGoth
    I wasn't really trying to write it as a character type mash-up, it just seemed like the best description of a character type I've seen before.

    And the above comment made me think, this could be considered a subtrope of Enfant Terrible, except that a Manipulative Prodigy isn't necessarily vicious, cruel, or psychopathic. They're not out to hurt people, they just want what they want when they want it and believe in their "superior" methods of getting it.
  • July 21, 2011
    SteamGoth
    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.
  • July 22, 2011
    Prime32
  • July 26, 2011
    SteamGoth
    In Bleach, Aizen was this to Shinji, and Gin was this to Aizen.
  • July 30, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    If the examples were organized, I might add a hat.
  • August 1, 2011
    SteamGoth
    Thanks. I just didn't know if I had enough examples to organize them properly.
  • February 7, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    Should this be trashed, or improved?

    I still think it is redundant.
  • February 8, 2012
    KeithTyler
    Seto Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh!
  • February 8, 2012
    WackyMeetsPractical
    Needs a name to indicate that this is about children. The current title could be about anybody who's amazingly good at manipulating others regardless of age, which would just be a Manipulative Bastard. So maybe Manipulative Kid, Young Manipulator, or Manpulative Bastard Junior.

    I don't see why this can't be a subtrope of Manipulative Bastard. There's certainly enough examples for it. It also seems distinct enough from Enfant Terrible, since it's more about controlling others and less about killing or tormenting them.
  • February 8, 2012
    crazysamaritan
    ^ children of what age, though? Does seto kaiba, a shonen character which, by default, tends towards Adults Are Useless count? As far as relative age of the characters, he's reached the age of majority. Does Bleach work, when they're talking about apprentices, not preteens?
  • February 8, 2012
    MarkThis
    The Bleach examples are more of a The Starscream eaxmples though...
  • February 8, 2012
    chicagomel
    I think of the girl killer from CSI "The Unsual Suspect" and "Goodbye and Goodluck".

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable