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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.