Created By: THEKINGOFSOMEWHERE on December 13, 2011 Last Edited By: IlVit on January 3, 2013

King of the Orphans

A rough, but kind Street Urchin who leads a pack of his fellow orphans.

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Trope
Whether he (or she) is the oldest, the most skilled, or just the one who wound up the leader somehow, gangs of street urchins often have a clear leader who will speak for his gang. This leader is usually portrayed as a kind boy who puts on a show of being a brutal badass in order to scare away anyone that would dare try and hurt the kids he's taken under his wing. Often, he will warm up to the hero over the course of the story, which will teach the hero not to judge people too quickly. Sometimes his or her "army" will even come to the hero's aid in battle.

Compare Satisfied Street Rat and The Artful Dodger. This character will probably grow up to be The Fagin.

Anime and Manga:

  • In Dragon Ball Z, kid Gohan encounters a gang of orphans led by one of these in an early filler.
  • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex The Major meets an aspiring one of these who intends to make money selling drugs so he can become a cyborg (inspired by Kuze). This turns out to be a bad idea, but at the very least he's intelligent enough to manipulate The Major into helping him.

Film:

  • The female protagonist of The City of Lost Children was this for the orphans who studied under the Octopus.
  • In Hook, Rufio takes over this role after Pan leaves Neverland to grow up.
  • There's Jack "Cowboy" Kelly of the Manhattan newsboys in Newsies and also what's-his-name, the leader of the Brooklyn boys.

Literature:

  • In Ender's Shadow, both Poke and eventually Achilles are this.
  • Gavroche in Les Misérables. He is actually a Thénardier and joins the students at the barricade towards the end of the story where he is shot by the National Guard.
  • Charles Dickens' The Artful Dodger is one of these.
  • Though not a typical example in how he doesn't have to worry about scraping by, Peter Pan is one of these as the leader of his gang the Lost Boys.
  • Johnnie-O in The Skinjacker Trilogy leads a gang of Everlost children that bullies others who are passing through (Everlost is populated only by children), until he pulls a Heel–Face Turn and helps out Nick and Allie, and his gang goes onward to the light.
  • Scipio from The Thief Lord.

Live-Action TV:

  • In the BBC Dickens parody series The Bleak Old Shop Of Stuff this role is fulfilled by The Artful Codger; a middle aged man (played by Johnny Vegas) who is apparently an urchin because he failed an exam to become a ne'er-do-well or vagabond.
  • In Doctor Who "The Empty Child" there's a girl who serves as the leader/mother of a group of homeless kids during World War II's London Blitz.
  • In the recent SyFy miniseries, "Neverland", Peter Pan began as one of these.

Video Games:

Web Comics:


Community Feedback Replies: 43
  • December 13, 2011
    morenohijazo
    • In Dragon Ball Z, kid Gohan encounters a gang of orphans leaded by one of these in an early filler.
  • December 13, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In Doctor Who "The Empty Child" there's a girl who serves as the leader/mother of a group of homeless kids during World War Two's London Blitz.
  • December 13, 2011
    sliz225
    The Thief Lord is one of these.
  • December 13, 2011
    Bisected8
    • In Ghost In The Shell Stand Alone Complex The Major meets an aspiring one of these who intends to make money selling drugs so he can become a cyborg (inspired by Kuze). This turns out to be a bad idea, but at the very least he's intelligent enough to manipulate The Major into helping him.
  • December 13, 2011
    fulltimeD
    The female protagonist of The City Of Lost Children was this for the orphans who studied under the Octopus.
  • December 14, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    Surely Dickens' The Artful Dodger is one of these?
  • December 14, 2011
    THEKINGOFSOMEWHERE
    ^ Yes he is (from what I read on here at least, I should read Oliver Twist sometime). I notice there's a lot of overlap between this and the other orphan character types. I think this could work though. Maybe I should just make a note like "he or she is often The Artful Dodger?"

  • December 14, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV

    Compare Satisfied Street Rat.
  • December 17, 2011
    THEKINGOFSOMEWHERE
    bump.
  • December 19, 2011
    sliz225
    bump.
  • December 19, 2011
    JonnyB
    In the recent Sy Fy miniseries, "Neverland", Peter Pan began as one of these.
  • December 19, 2011
    Irrisia
    Halley Iasant from Shadow Hearts leads a pack of rphans when you meet him.
  • December 23, 2011
    THEKINGOFSOMEWHERE
    bump.
  • December 30, 2011
    THEKINGOFSOMEWHERE
    bump
  • December 30, 2011
    CurlyJeffers

    I'd say it's ready to publish, but it needs some serious cleaning up.
  • December 30, 2011
    ThornKing
    Peter Pan could probably be counted as this.
  • January 2, 2012
    THEKINGOFSOMEWHERE
    ^^ Is what I've done something like what you had in mind?
  • January 2, 2012
    somerandomdude
    Gavroche in Les Miserables
  • January 4, 2012
    Bisected8
    • In the BBC Dickens parody series The Bleak Old Shop Of Stuff this role is fulfilled by The Artful Codger; a middle aged man (played by Johnny Vegas) who is apparently an urchin because he failed an exam to become a ne'er-do-well or vagabond.
  • January 4, 2012
    Dawnwing
    Literature:

    • Johnnie-O in The Skinjacker Trilogy leads a gang of Everlost children that bullies others who are passing through (Everlost is populated only by children), until he pulls a Heel Face Turn and helps out Nick and Allie, and his gang goes onward to the light.
  • January 8, 2012
    THEKINGOFSOMEWHERE
    bump
  • January 8, 2012
    ChaoticNovelist
    The examples could use more context but everything else looks good.
  • January 16, 2012
    THEKINGOFSOMEWHERE
    Anyone who added an example before care to add a little bit more detail?
  • January 16, 2012
    AP
    This character will likely grow up to be The Fagin.
  • January 18, 2012
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    In Hook, Rufio takes over this role after Pan leaves Neverland to grow up.
  • January 25, 2012
    THEKINGOFSOMEWHERE
    One last try!
  • March 13, 2012
    TitoMosquito
  • May 7, 2012
    Ciabella
    Subverted by Jack in ’’Thunderer’’ by Gliman Felix. When he gets his flying powers, he starts to break kids out of the Orphanages Of Fear and takes Street Urchins under his wing, but as his friend points out, he is not real leader material. When Jack plays role of a local Peter Pan, his friend takes care of all boring stuff like organizing food and shelter.
  • May 7, 2012
    Bagpiper
    Orphan Leader would be a better title.
  • May 7, 2012
    lexicon
    • There's Jack "Cowboy" Kelly of the Manhattan newsboys in Newsies and also what's-his-name, the leader of the Brooklyn boys.

    Hook has been listed under live action tv as well as film. Might want to fix that.
  • May 7, 2012
    cygnavamp
    • Jahn from the original Star Trek episode "Miri".
  • May 7, 2012
    captainsandwich
    eberron has a undead orphan (ghost) who is the leader of a gang of orphans. orphans who get to old are expelled from the gang. i believe it is in the book City of Stormreach.
  • May 7, 2012
    acrobox
    Fire Emblem Tellius: Even though Micaiah is officially The Leader of the Dawn Brigade, Sothe fulfills this trope closest, acting as Micaiah's advisor/bodyguard. He's also the strongest fighter at the beginning of the game.
  • May 7, 2012
    acrobox
    The Santa Clause: Bernard seems to fill this role as the King of the Elves when Santa is absent.
  • November 1, 2012
    AgProv
    The Dodger, in Terry Pratchett's latest novel.
  • November 1, 2012
    CarrieVS
    Wiggins, of the Baker Street Irregulars, in Sherlock Holmes.
  • December 30, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In Emil And The Detectives Gustav is the leader of a ragtag bunch of youths who are the eponymous detectives. Few or none of them are orphans though.
  • December 30, 2012
    lexicon
    Isn't this the same thing as King Of The Homeless?
  • December 30, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    More detail to the Ender's Shadow entry:

    • Poke leads an orphan gang, but she is not very highly regarded and there are more powerful gangs and bullies. Eventually Achilles takes over the gang, dubs it his "family", and ends up creating a new system where every street bully is forced to raise an orphan "family" if they hope to enter the local soup kitchen.
  • December 30, 2012
    Sheora
    ^^I would call it a children's version of that. I think it's distinct enough to have it's own trope. It should be listed as a child of King Of The Homeless though.
  • December 31, 2012
    GreatHylianKing
    Jet from Avatar the Last Airbender.
  • January 2, 2013
    ElCheViva
    Fallout 3 features Mayor Mac Ready, leader of Little Lamplight, a settlement populated entirely by orphan children in the Capital Wasteland.
  • January 3, 2013
    lycropath
    Vaan in Final Fantasy XII is the eldest of the war orphans in treated as their unofficial leader and Big Brother Mentor.

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