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[[quoteright:350:[[VideoGame/MetalGearSolidVThePhantomPain http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/f8faa35e091669c231dd77b59ffecd45.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:''[[VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2SonsOfLiberty They built us from the ground up, into killing machines...]]'']]

->''"Nothing is scarier than a twelve-year-old with a Kalashnikov."''
-->-- '''Nightcrawler''', ''Comicbook/XMen''

They depend on us to defend them, but we're forcing them to defend us. Sometimes they have a talent to help them get through the war, which unfortunately may be the reason they were drafted to begin with, but often it's just tough luck. While the notion of [[ChildrenAreInnocent innocent childhood]] dates to the early modern era (thank the Victorians and their contemporaries), even the ancients felt fairly queasy about the idea - and with good reason: warfare [[HarmfulToMinors screws with kids' heads]], and they're rarely good for much else afterwards. Since the use of child soldiers forces the enemy to gun down children in self defense, it's a very strong contender for [[MoralEventHorizon the most morally reprehensible war crime in existence]]. On a somewhat lighter side, there are also many stories, in fiction and real life, concerning boys ([[SweetPollyOliver and girls]]) who lied about their ages in order to serve their country in its hour of need -- but those are only slightly under age, much more mature psychologically.

This trope is great for an [[DarkAndTroubledPast angsty backstory]] while at the same time excusing ImprobableAge with prior experience. A staple of the shows which focus on violence but broadcast to kids, such as the more serious {{Mecha Show}}s. It's a good way to avoid ChildrenAreInnocent, particularly if a kid [[CreepyChild creepily]] sees it [[NotAGame as a game]], but sometimes the loss of innocence is played for as much drama as can be.

In fiction, this also has the convenience of explaining why [[PersonOfMassDestruction Persons Of Mass Destruction]] are obeying their weaker bosses and not running things, or at least not demanding wages and better job conditions. It simply doesn't occur to them; and even if they do rebel, they don't know how to do it properly.

This trope blends imperceptibly with NewMeat. Since even legal adults can be teenagers, old soldiers in particular may regard them as no more than children.

This trope is TruthInTelevision; many armies in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa have underaged troops. Furthermore, even Western countries such as Germany, Russia, and the United States have overlooked recruitment ages in major conflicts such as UsefulNotes/WorldWarII. This was likely to happen before the late 20th century, because births were not as well documented and the recruiters took them at their word if they looked about the right age. Though it's frowned on by Western culture, there is a certain brutal logic to conscripting youth - everyone is under threat, so everyone fights. Sometimes the children are better off on the front lines than enduring [[WarIsHell what would happen to them if the enemy takes their village]]. As a more pragmatic and ethical solution, many countries that feature soldiers in the 16-19 age range often utilize them in noncombat or support roles, and/or continue to train them until they're older, resulting in far better psychological health, effectiveness of personnel, and morale overall.

Child soldiers can be divided into two types: Those who fight and kill humans, and those who either don't because they fight a nonhuman entity (''Anime/StrikeWitches'', ''Anime/StellviaOfTheUniverse'') or avoid lethal means (''Franchise/LyricalNanoha''). The former usually carry a heavy trauma, while the latter tend to avoid it.

Some {{Super Soldier}}s probably started out early enough to be counted as this. The {{Tykebomb}} ([[LaserGuidedTykebomb of all varieties]]) is what happens when this trope backfires.

Compare LittleMissBadass, CreepyChild, CuteBruiser, EnfanteTerrible, KidSamurai, NewMeat, YoungGun, RecruitTeenagersWithAttitude. The ShellShockedVeteran may actually be a high-school senior.

Contrast FallingIntoTheCockpit, which usually implies no former military experience. See PluckyMiddie for the naval version. See also RaisedByOrcs for cultures that use ''their enemies''' children this way.

If only children get to be soldiers, then you have a CompetenceZone on your hands. If it's because they're the only ones left, ''then'' you have a TeenageWasteland on your hands.
!!Precociously Talented Type:


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In ''Anime/NowAndThenHereAndThere'', [[PsychopathicManchild King Hamdo]] has an army of them he kidnapped from neighboring villages that he [[CannonFodder sacrifices]] without a second thought.
* In ''Anime/ValvraveTheLiberator'', the AntiVillain Karlstein agents are this, to contrast with (and [[DeconstructedTrope deconstruct]]) the KidHero [[spoiler: supposedly]] OrdinaryHighSchoolStudent team who FellIntoTheCockpit of the titular mecha. It's only because of the ''ridiculously'' advanced level of the Valvraves ([[spoiler: powered by a space-vampire energy that humanity at large is still unaware of]]) that the students can even hope to beat the Karlstein team - and the fact that they have a defector from that team, L-elf, as their strategist, who knows his former team well. The second season shows the conditions they trained under, and the level to which death and killing was such a part of their lives even when they were very young.
** Special mention goes to Q-vier, the youngest of the group at 14, who looks even younger than that. He's the most vicious, a definite BloodKnight, who sees the world like a big fighting game.
** The Karlstein agents also have number-letter [[YouAreNumberSix codenames instead of names]], and only one of their [[NoNameGiven names is revealed]] in the series.
** The Valvrave pilots also [[BreakTheCutie break]] into a form of this - [[spoiler: except that the two survivors were already [[BrokenBird somewhat broken]] to begin with]].
* Sousuke Sagara from ''LightNovel/FullMetalPanic''. By the start of the series, Sousuke's 16 years old and has been fighting for his whole life, having been raised as a mujaheddin in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion. This is apparently TruthInTelevision, which is why many child soldiers are from the Middle East in anime. ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundam00 Gundam 00]]'' also uses this and ''Manga/BlackLagoon'' made a reference to it.
** Sagara had actually been a soldier ''before'' that. He was actually sent to kill a guerilla leader at age 8 after being trained as an assassin by the KGB, but failed and joined the arabic leader's troops. He was brought to Russia by Kallinin, [[spoiler: who legally adopted him when he and toddler-Sagara were the only survivors of a plane crash, and introduced him to military life. Kallinin later deserting the KGB also to join sides with Sousuke, further training him in the art of war at still tender ages.]]
** In the novels, it's mentioned that Gauron himself was one of these: he was fighting for the Khmer Rouge by at least age 12, and probably earlier.
** Sousuke's former comrade, Zaied is also an example, and unlike Sousuke, is played horribly straight, having grown up into an EmptyShell SociopathicSoldier, who seems to lack all social contact, drive and ambition. It makes him a dangerous antagonist and EvilCounterpart to Sousuke.
** Sousuke would fit somewhere between the Talented and Tragic variants of this trope. Sousuke is not exactly traumatized by his experiences, but his perspective of the world is fundamentally altered. This leads to a lot of the comedy and drama in the series. For example Sousuke believes in a non-lethal version of ViolenceIsTheOnlyOption, leading to him suggesting ending harmless squabbles with knockout gas or tasers.
* ''Anime/DivergenceEve'' has Kotoko-01, though since she's an android it may or may not count.
* ''Franchise/{{Gundam}}'', even discounting judicious use of FallingIntoTheCockpit, has a lot of this, starting with 16-year-old Amuro Ray.
** The pilots in ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundamWing Gundam Wing]]'' were all 15 at the start of the series, but the most extreme case is Trowa, who (according to ''[[AllThereInTheManual Episode Zero]]'') was picked up by mercenaries after spending the first few years of his life completely alone, and thus has been a soldier since before he was able to talk. The show's protagonist Heero has many similarities to Sousuke Sagara (mentioned above) such that many consider Sousuke to be an {{Expy}}.
** Setsuna F. Seiei in ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundam00 Gundam 00]]'' was brainwashed by and fought for religious extremists in the Middle East some years younger than ten. Being sixteen in the series proper, he's still older than most Gundam teen leads: Usso Eving in ''[[Anime/MobileSuitVictoryGundam Victory Gundam]]'' is the youngest Gundam pilot at 13.
** And for Usso, it speaks of how children are forced to fight. While all teenagers in real life would want to pilot a giant robot and crush all the adults. Imagine if it was a tank, and you don't even got your driving license... real scary thought.
*** Indeed, a Zanscare pilot that Usso downs shoots himself when he sees how old Usso is, because he can't bear to live in a world where children so young are made into soldiers.
** In ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundamSeed Gundam SEED]]'' and ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundamSeedDestiny Gundam SEED Destiny]]'' the same thing applies with most of the main cast, heroic ''and'' antagonistic being in their teens. Although in this case, most of the child soldiers actually volunteered to fight for their countries; many of them soon realized that they bit off far more than they could chew, though.
*** The Extendeds as well. They even had to go through torture and abuse in their training as children, in order to be molded into soldiers that surpass the Coordinators.
** Most blatant example: ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundamZZ Gundam ZZ]]'''s Elpeo Puru. A ten year old Newtype girl trained for combat in a prototype war machine, mentally conditioned to focus on the pilot of the Gundam (this backfired: she focused on him all right, but her obsession became affection and she only wanted to be his little sister). Then it's revealed that they cloned her at least a dozen times and treated the resultant girls as equipment rather than people, nothing more than pilots who were to obey their commander and fight whomever he ordered. ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundamUnicorn Unicorn]]'' shows one of the clones having survived to adulthood, and it wasn't a good time for her.
** Decil Galette of ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundamAge Gundam AGE]]'' is one of the most [[EnfanteTerrible revoltingly evil]] examples of this ever created, being a seven-year old boy who joined the army because it gave him the chance to kill people. By the Second Generation he's more or less grown up into an {{expy}} of [[Anime/MobileSuitGundam00 Ali Al-Saachez]] and [[Anime/MobileSuitZetaGundam Yazan "I'm gonna violate you" Gable]], the franchise's two defining [[PsychoForHire Psychos For Hire]]. On the other side, we also have the third generation's protagonist, Kio Asuno, whose grandfather (first protagonist Flit Asuno) raised practically from birth to pilot the Gundam AGE 3 and continue his bloody vendetta against the Vagans.
* This is basically the entire concept of ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'', where the main characters, at the start, are twelve years old and already sent into occasionally life-threatening missions. To the authors immense credit, the series does not shy away from this. The fact that they ''are'' ninja and they're accompanied by more experienced ones helps, a little, but [[ThereAreNoTherapists tough cookies if you watch your family die before you one night, or have to leave your teammate to die.]] The trope is played with rather interestingly, as the series of [[MessianicArchetype messiah-like characters]] see this trope as a major part of the problem with the whole ninja system in general, which they seek to fundamentally change or end (most ''fail'', but they leave the world a little bit better every time as well).
** This story without a doubt fits this trope, as Naruto, as of the gradually building climax-arc of the series, is [[spoiler: [[TheChosenOne the savior and prophet]] everyone is relying on to save the day.]] Naruto himself grew into the role of MessianicArchetype not by destiny or conscious choice, but because of the various events and realities of his live, and the choices he made eventually culminating in a person and reputation that effectively becomes messianic. In a sense, the UpbringingMakesTheHero combines with several wise mentors passing on their full or partially messianic philosophies onto Naruto, who sees the reality of the world around him and puts two and two together.
** Some characters start even younger, as Kakashi graduated at the age of 5, became a Chunin at 6, and by 13, was a Jonin who would have died on several occasions if not for his teammate Rin's medical ninjutsu. Itachi saw consequences of war at 4, graduated at 7, Chunin at 10, ANBU at 11 and ANBU Captain at 13, at which point he massacres his entire family and clan in an apparent fit of madness (and psychologically tortures his surviving 8 year old brother for good measure); its later revealed that [[spoiler: he did this UNDER ORDERS because they were plotting a rebellion after being wrongly blamed (mostly) for the demon attack that kicked off the story.]]
*** For that matter, Naruto and Gaara both had demons stuck into them ''at birth''; in the case of Gaara, this was done with the ''express purpose'' of turning him into a supernatural child soldier- he was later deemed unstable (surprise, surprise) prompting his own father to try and fail kill him. And Gaara was ''still'' expected to work for him and his ninja village. [[spoiler: The actual circumstances are a bit more complex and sympathetic, but still pretty bad.]]
** Seen in horrific detail in Hashirama's time. See "Just Plain Tragic" entry. Notably, young characters are explicitly referred to as child soldiers in this flashback, and it is mentioned their parents can't see the problem with this because ''they'' were raised as child soldiers as well, as were their parents and going on back generations.
** Also the Chunin Exams. The surface idea is that it promotes friendship and peace between the nations, and allows future clients to see the fighting strength of each village. However, it is revealed that the Exams are essentially a replacement for full-out battle between the nations, with the Genin of the villages as the soldiers, showcasing their village’s political strength.
** Most of the Konoha 12 are under 17 when they enter the [[spoiler:Fourth Shinobi World War]]. The generation before them was equally unfortunate: they were around 13 when they were thrown into war. And not all of them made it out, either.
* ''Anime/EurekaSeven'': Eureka, for her prodigious skill in piloting the [[SuperPrototype Nirvash]], becomes its pilot, and Renton, who decides to co-pilot it to protect Eureka. Naturally, reality [[HeroicBSOD hits him hard]] when he figures out that by piloting, he's become a soldier with extreme skill in [[TheseHandsHaveKilled killing]]. The series makes a major plot point of this, exploring what really happens when children [[FallingIntoTheCockpit pilot]] HumongousMecha.
* The armed forces of the Space-Time Administration Bureau from ''Franchise/LyricalNanoha'' doesn't seem to have a minimum age requirement. Nanoha, Fate, and Hayate become active members at the age of ten[[note]]a year after the two major incidents[[/note]] and proceed to skyrocket through its ranks. Unlike most examples, the child soldiers of the series all join out of their own volition. (However, this is also a BoxedCrook arrangement, as these tend to be the opponents of previous seasons; and anyone ''not'' working for the [=TSAB=] is still in prison or at least confined to a frontier world.)
** Played more darkly in Runessa Magnus' backstory in ''Audioplay/StrikersSoundStageX''. She fought in wars on her homeworld of Orussia, but was rescued by an NGO after being severely wounded at the age of 9.
** The young nuns (and probably priests/monks if there ''[[ImprobablyFemaleCast are]]'' any) from the Saint Church are {{Warrior Monk}}s and are also known as knights. Though, not as active than the main bureau, the church is a part of the TSAB, and the nuns have to protect people (especially the important ones), and they can assist the TSAB divisions as reinforcement. Though, the only sister we've ever seen who actually fought along with the TSAB was Schach Nouera who is apparently a young adult.
** Though YoungerThanTheyLook (though, there is one who is OlderThanSheLooks), most of the Numbers had bodies of teenagers when they were engaged with the Jail Scaglietti Incident. While Uno, Due and Tre are biologically in their mid- and early twenties, the oldest of teenager was officially 16, while most of the others are either 14 or 13. However, it seems that the Numbers don't age like the Type-0 prototypes, as Tre, Quattro and Cinque looked exactly the same as in the Combat Cyborg Incident eight years ago, and they would be 12, 6 and 8 respectively, but they didn't look like.
* Duel Academy students in ''Anime/YuGiOhGX'' -- what do you expect when your weapon is a children's collectible card game? This doesn't stop their principal from [[AdultsAreUseless feeling terrible about putting the fate of the world in the hands of teenagers]].
** Anime/YuGiOhArcV takes a long and hard look at this trope in regards to the franchise. Unlike many other series, it shows the realistic effects of putting regular teenagers in life and death situations. With many having either been heavily indoctrinated into becoming sociopaths ([[GreyandBlackMorality both on the antagonist side and the protagonist side]]) or are slowly being broken due to the stress. Still, the heroes eventually kick bad guy butt and stop the fighting using Card Games.
* Major Edward Elric from ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'' earned his commission in [[TheEmpire Amestris']] State Military at the tender age of twelve.
** Though it's noted that hes a very special case. The military doesn't generally have child soldiers. Edward's status as a prodigy and string pulling by Mustang is the only reason it happens.
* ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'':
** Mana Tatsumiya is (supposedly) 14/15 years old, but has been fighting in various trouble spots around the world since her childhood. Her old Pactio card actually shows her, around 10 years old, with [[GunsAkimbo Desert Eagles Akimbo]].
** There's also Nagi, Negi's legendary hero of a father. The big war in the Magic World started when he was only around 13, and in the Magic World, if you're strong enough, you could fight in wars even if you're just 12 or 13. Nagi being...well, [[WorldsStrongestMan invincible]], he ended the war on his own. At age 15.
** The cadets of the esteemed Ariadne Battle Maiden Knight Squad, [[spoiler:which Yue Ayase managed to become a part of]].
** In fact, the entire class (including the teacher!) that wasn't left behind counts, save the [[OurGhostsAreDifferent ghost]] Sayo. Setsuna has been a bodyguard or training in Shinmeiryuu techniques since childhood.
** [[QuirkyMinibossSquad Fate's haremettes]] also can be seen as this.
* In ''Anime/StrikeWitches'', all but two of the 501st Joint Fighter Wing's Witches are children, the youngest being only 12 (the two oldest are, appropriately enough, the commander and her second in command). Justified somewhat in that most magic users are teenage girls anyway, and the fact their magic gets weaker the older they get. So by 20 they are decommissioned from service.
* ''Manga/{{InuYasha}}'': Sango is a highly trained and skilled demon hunter at age 16, with it being implied that she first started doing so when she was 11.
* The main cast of ''Anime/SkyGirls'' are in their teens, the youngest only 15 years old. This is justified by 90% of the male population between 20 and 30 being dead in due to a war against an alien enemy.
* Mostly averted (both ways) in ''[[Manga/MobileSuitGundamSeedAstray Gundam SEED Astray]]'''s Kazahana Aja. Although she is an official member of the Serpent Tail mercenary group at the tender age of six, she's only the team's civilian liason, and thus is generally a non-combatant (Plus, her mother is part of the group, too). Her report at the end of ''X Astray'' is a bit of a TearJerker, however.
* Played straight and subverted by ''Manga/ZettaiKarenChildren'', where the psychic children are used more or less as soldiers, but the organization doing so still treats them like children and tries very hard to provide for a healthy upbringing for them.
* ''Anime/GunBuster'' has a bunch of high-school kids charged with piloting the HumongousMecha which will defend the Earth. In fact, the early parts play out more like a sports movie as competitors vie to get "on the team".
* The Shinigami in ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'' permit recruits to join up while still ''biologically'' children so long as they can meet the entrance requirements. Of course, Shinigami are all ReallySevenHundredYearsOld, but [[HotLibrarian Ise Nanao]], [[StepfordSmiler Ichimaru Gin]], [[AdorablyPrecociousChild Hitsugaya Toshiro]], and [[CuteBruiser Kusajishi Yachiru]] were VERY young by Soul Society standards and still often acted childish or immature. Yachiru is still a child in the current timeline, as is Toushirou--''and he's the 10th squad captain''.
* In ''Manga/OnePiece'', during [[AxCrazy Donquixote Doflamingo's]] speech about [[MightMakesRight justice]] during the Marineford Arc, when he gets to his "Children who never knew peace" part, we see a couple of these.
* Yu Ominae from the anime/manga series ''Manga/{{Spriggan}}'', was "recruited" (read: kidnapped) into a secret U.S. government black ops unit called COSMOS sometime after his archaeologist parents were killed in Iran. Considering he's no older than 16-17 by present day in the series (he's a high school student), this means he was likely taken around the age of 10.
** COSMOS (Children of Soldier Machine Organic System) was filled out with children kidnapped by the CIA from around the world. They are brainwashed, have their names replaced by a number and given extensive special forces training. To give some perspective as to the results of this training, Yu, after freeing himself from COSMOS' brainwashing, is considered to be one of the deadliest special agents alive in the world of Spriggan. Most of their missions involve classic black ops missions like assassination, artifact retrieval and covert infiltration.
* In the manga ''Manga/{{Jormungand}}'', the character Jonah is a child soldier and is a prolific fighter, who has been hired by a arms dealer. Even though he's on par with the other highly trained fighters, he's also mentally fragile and hates weapons and his reliance on them. Before serving Koko as a bodyguard, he served in the Mountain Division and saw action against the Russians. Prior to the series, he had single-handedly [[spoiler: wiped out an entire mountain base as retribution for his friend Malka being forced to walk across a minefield to clear it]]. Needless to say, his personality disturbs the other adult mercenaries but they have since come to accept him.
* At the beginning of ''9 Banme no Masashi'' the titular character is 16 and one of the top elite soldier in her secret paramilitary organization.
* Most of the main cast in ''Manga/KagerouNostalgia'', with Kazuma Shudo, a 14-year old, PTSD-ing [[HiredGuns mercenary]] being the straightest example.
* Some, if not all of the ''Anime/SpiderRiders'' are ages twelve to thirteen. For pete's sake, Princess Sparkle is only eight!
* In ''Anime/SoundOfTheSky'', the oldest member of the 1121st Helvetian Tank Platoon is 18 years old. The youngest is 14.
* ''Anime/DragonBallZ'':
** Son Gohan is forced to fight his uncle at age 4, thwart an alien invasion at age 5, fight a war against a galactic overlord a couple months later, endure copious TrainingFromHell, and then fight an insanely powerful monster (who proceeds to beat him to a pulp and kill his father) when, even taking into consideration YearInsideHourOutside training, he was but 11. Yes, he does show some signs of PTSD when he grows up.
** You can't forget Vegeta who was enslaved at age 5 to the same Galactic Overlord who killed his father, destroyed his race, and blew up his planet.
** The days-old infant Kakarrot was sent to Earth with the expectation that his first full moon transformation into a Great Ape would be enough to exterminate the weakling inhabitants of this backwater mud ball. This was standard procedure for Saiyans, so they're basically an entire race of Child Soldiers.
** In ''Dragon Ball Minus'' Raditz is consider a warrior out helping Vegeta take over worlds, despite being no more than 5 or 7. The same with Vegeta. Although Goku isn't sent to destroy Earth, it isn't unusual for Frontier Babies to be sent out when they're no more than 3.
** Goten and Trunks were expected to fight and defeat Majin Buu using the FusionDance when they were 7 and 8. Although, it wasn't like the Earth had anyone left to fight Buu at that point.
* Downplayed in ''LightNovel/DateALive''. Due to the fact that the talent to use [[AppliedPhlebotinum the]] [[RealityWarper Realizer]] is very rare, the Anti Spirit Team(AST) has to take child recruits. All the ones seen so far in combat are orphans and generally very good. Their mission is to [[BullyingADragon exterminate the]] [[PersonOfMassDestruction Spirits]], but that turns out to mean "bug them till they leave on their own". Downplayed that everyone heads to shelters when an incomming spirit is detected, the AST can 't really [[NighInvulnerable hurt the Spirits]], and the spirits themselves don't try all that hard to fight back. So all that really happens is property damage most of the time. When they do get a spirit [[TheGlovesComeOff angry enough]] it tends to go poorly for them.
* Class 3-E in ''Manga/AssassinationClassroom'' is a variation of the trope. First, they are training to be assassins, not traditional soldiers. Second, their trainers/teachers actually goes out their way to ensure the children can have a normal life (well, as normal as the situation they are in can allow).
* [[HeroesRUs Sephira Fiore]] from ''Anime/IlSolePenetraLeIllusioni'' begins drafting the [[MagicalGirl card holder]] when their power starts to awaken, which can begin at the tender age of ''ten'', possibly younger.
* The main cast in ''Manga/SoulEater'' are all members of the combat-orientated class, and later an elite unit, because they all show exceptional prowess as meisters and [[EquippableAlly Weapons]], whether through natural talent, learned skill, or [[HumanoidAbomination being Death the Kid]]. While they are [[AllThereInTheManual established]] as being in the minority among the students, they are not the first; flashbacks show their teachers being in a similar position.
* Most of COSMOS in ''Manga/MotherKeeper'' appear to be teenagers when we first see them, including Ricalna.
* ''Manga/RurouniKenshin'': [[note]]There are also "just plain tragic" examples.[[/note]]
** Kenshin was 14 when he ran away from his master to join the rebellion. In this case, it would be underage enlistment rather than conscription.
** Aoshi, at least, of the Oniwabanshuu. He was a protector of Edo Castle strong enough to fight Shikijo into submission by 13, and presumably would have killed him if he had declined to switch sides. He then became leader of them at 15.
* In ''LightNovel/UnlimitedFafnir'', Yuu and the girls at the Midgar school are still teenagers, and are forced to take down the dragons plaguing humanity due to having much more power than even the military.
* ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'': Due to the army's appallingly high mortality rate, its minimum recruitment age is ''twelve''.
** Even more so with [[spoiler:Reiner, Annie and Bertolt, who (as mentioned above) destroyed the Walls and infiltrated the human ranks at the ages of ''ten'' and ''eleven'',]] the heavy implication being they were trained from a very young age.
* Members of Border in ''Manga/WorldTrigger'' are recruited as early as twelve(one branch has an unofficial five-year-old, but it's clear he doesn't come anywhere near a fight). Justified in-universe by the fact that Trion glands grow during puberty, so you ''have'' to train most Trion users as preteens/teenagers to develop them to useful levels. In neighborhood, infants with potential are drafted into the military and are modified to make them more powerful. However, in both worlds, the best combatants tend to be adults because it takes years to build the necessary skills and experience.
* ''Anime/PanzerWorldGalient'': Jordy Volder, not that the circumstances give him much of a choice in the matter: the BigBad conquered his father's kingdom and was gradually taking over the whole planet, forcing him to learn how fighting. In addition, he's the only person capable to pilot the titular HumongousMecha.
* The heroes of ''Manga/TheLuciferAndBiscuitHammer'' range from the elderly (the Master) down to late elementary school (Akane Taiyou), with nearly half of them below the age of 18. And people ''do'' die in the secret war they're fighting. It helps that the heroes mostly aren't fighting other people, but instead golems, but there are a handful of reasons that all but force some of the good guys to be kids: the small pool of potential heroes as they need to not have a WeirdnessCensor, the need for the heroes to come from a fairly small area (and thus even more limited population) so they can work together, and the important (to the working of the heroes' powers) symbolism of the Earth being defended by ''everyone'' no matter their age - the adults protecting their legacies and current lives, and the children fighting for their futures. Some of the most powerful combatants were the middle school girls Subaru and Yuki because while everyone else fought with their own style, [[ThePowerOfFriendship those two fought together]].
* The villains of ''Anime/ValkyrieDriveMermaid'' use orphans they pick from the streets as guinea pigs and enforcers.
* The Light Novel/Manga/Anime series ''[[LightNovel/YoujoSenki Youjo Senki: Saga Of Tanya The Evil]]'', offers an interesting example in the form of the titular character, [[CreepyChild Lt. (later Colonel) Tanya Degruasseu]], an incredibly gifted mage and a brilliant and ruthless tacticians who even earned herself the nickname ''[[TheRedBaron The Devil of The Rhine]]'', who just so happens to be only around ''ten'' years old. While The Empire (basically a slightly altered WWI Germany in a world with magic) ''does'' allows boys and girls that show exceptional magical ability to volunteer and even go to officer school, it is not actively encouraged and reactions to Tanya not only being a battle hardened soldier, but also a ''officer'' who commands the respect and fear of her adult subordinates ranges from surprise to terror at the thought of someone so young leading operations on the frontlines, with several characters even mentioning in horror [[AdultFear that they have children and siblings around her age.]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Really this is what ComicBook/CaptainAmerica's sidekick [[ComicBook/BuckyBarnes Bucky]] was.
* And let's not forget, the eponymous BOY wonder, Robin and his successors. (Especially in Frank Miller's All-Star Batman & Robin.)
** And, in a sense, Batman himself. He dedicated his life from childhood to fight a war on crime... he hasn't been a kid since he was eight years old. The distinction being, of course, that he did this willingly and also didn't actually fight crime until adulthood.
** Cassandra Cain may not have ever been a Robin, but before becoming Batgirl, she spent the first eight years of her life training as an assassin and the next eight on the run..
* Xavin the Super Skrull in training from ''Comicbook/{{Runaways}}'' thinks of herself like this, but based on the flashbacks to his training on her homeworld it seems like he has never really seen combat and only undergone Super Skrull basic training.
** In the ''Runaways''[=/=]''ComicBook/YoungAvengers'' Comicbook/CivilWar arc, Xavin tells a MadScientist that when he/she was five, he/she was forced to first watch his father slaughter a "screaming family" and then was made to spend three days with the bodies as a punishment for crying during it.
* Hit Girl from ''ComicBook/KickAss'' is a strange case, because not only is she aware of her status as this, but she's far more capable than the 16 year old title character. Also, in a realistic twist on the trope, the bad guys have absolutely no problem with trying to kill her. The two most heinous examples are when [[spoiler:they shoot her in the back with "a hundred bullets" (which she recovered from) and whacking her in the head with a meat hammer. To be fair, however, she had already done much, ''much'' worse to them]]. [[spoiler: After her father gets killed, Kick-Ass helps her track down her mother, and she goes back to a normal life like nothing bad ever happened]]. The first issue of Volume 2 [[spoiler:shows her continuing to train Kick-Ass, keeping a small army's worth of firepower hidden in her bedroom, and being thoroughly bored with civilian life. So her normal life is probably going to just be a temporary blip.]]
** In [[Film/KickAss the movie]], [[spoiler: her mother is really dead, so she returns to a normal life - probably devoid of bullies, but that's a detail - with just Dave as a guardian.]]
* ComicBook/{{X23}} from the Comicbook/XMen was artificially created to be a perfect killing machine, this meant learning to kill from birth on and being send on messy assassinations by the age of 12. The [[TrainingFromHell nature of her training]] qualifies her as an example of the tragic sort as well.
** Metaphorically Marrow was also a child soldier. Being forced to kill fellow Morlocks in order to survive and being indoctrinated to hate normal humans for no apparent reason.
** Comicbook/{{Cyclops}}, along with the other original X-men, were trained from around their mid-teens to fight to protect "a world that feared and hated" them.
** Hope Summers was trained from birth to fight.
* This is the source of ComicBook/CaptainAmerica's opposition to Peter Parker as Spider-Man in the [[ComicBook/UltimateSpiderman Ultimate universe]].
** And even moreso with Miles Morales as the new Spider-Man, who is even ''younger''.
* The ''ComicBook/{{Muties}}'' story "Arrested Development" is about an African boy who is kidnapped by a Joseph Kony expy named the Reverend and forced to become a child soldier. The stress of this triggers the development of his mutant ability to manipulate time, which he ultimately employs to get his revenge on the Reverend.

* A particularly ridiculous version is the ''Franchise/StarTrek'' fanfiction series about FanFic/MarissaPicard, in which a twelve-year-old is given command of the Enterprise saucer section, and does so well with it that she is permanently promoted to Ensign (not acting, like Wesley Crusher at 16). She starts up a "Kids' Crew" organization that is a shadow government for starships, in which children, none of whom seem to be over 12, can take over the running of a ship if its senior crew are incapacitated. Their ranks are acting, but so long as they're still 'activated' they can tell any properly commissioned officer what to do. Few of the adults over whose heads they jump seem to mind, and those that do quite reasonably resent it are depicted as idiots.
** By way of comparison, in TNG, there was a "cadet crew" made up of some of the teens and older pre-teens, but their activities were realistically limited. The only time they actually did anything "for real" was during an exceptionally severe shipwide emergency where everyone available was needed. Even then, they were limited to doing what they'd actually learned.
* In ''FanFic/{{Exoria}}'', Hylian Joint Intelligence is revealed to have hijacked the Spencer Welfare Program, an initiative designed to raise and educate orphaned children so they can serve the government when then grow up. Joint Intelligence keeps tabs on the program to search for candidates for the intelligence agency, and provide them underage military training covertly. Agent Link became an exceedingly young agent of Joint Intelligence this way. On one hand, Link doesn't seem to be too badly off with this upbringing, but Princess Zelda clearly disapproves, and, given the story's narrative slant, it's too early to tell how this will come back to bite Link in the ass.
* In ''FanFic/TheMadScientistWars'', Commander Primary Xerox, head of TheMenInBlack-style organization '''M''' is somewhere between the two types. [[spoiler:Up until the age of ten he was trained along with other children to be an assassin, and sent to kill Mad Scientists.]] On one hand, he has amazing reflexes and a great deal of weapon training, but on the other hand [[spoiler: The guilt of his only ''mostly'' repressed memories has haunted his adult life, and he's never really recovered from the emotional stress. And he has the ''body'' of a Jaded Vet to go along with his mentality.]]
* Played for drama (obviously - it is a ''Manga/{{Bokurano}}'' concept applied to ponies) in ''FanFic/OurEquestria'' - a group of children gets tricked into FallingIntoTheCockpit. It gets FromBadToWorse from there.
* ''FanFic/ShinjiAndWarhammer40K'': Discounting the pilots themselves, Shinji has the "Gretch," an entire army of young children to do his bidding by passing messages, [[SnoopingLittleKid spying on the whole city]], and performing various missions for him. UnfortunateImplications avoided by the fact that these missions are rarely very dangerous. {{Justified|Trope}} because [[JustAKid no one notices them just hanging around]].
* [[WesternAnimation/DCNation Fauna]] considers the [[ComicBook/TeenTitans Titans]] to be this, [[WhatTheHellHero and hasn't much respect for the JLA (or Doom Patrol) as a result]]. She also finds it very disquieting to see the Titans' children so eager to follow in their parents' footsteps. [[http://community.livejournal.com/jla_watchtower/973271.html She keeps her opinion mostly to herself to avoid offending her teammates, only confessing it to Troia, who tried to justify it]]. It still makes her seriously question the ethics of choosing a caped hero's life.
* Tabitha, as portrayed in the ''LightNovel/TheFamiliarOfZero'' fics ''Fanfic/PointsOfFamiliarity'' and ''Fanfic/TheHillOfSwords'', is one by dint of her EvilUncle sending her on impossible missions in the hope of getting her killed. She persists in disappointing him.
* Deconstructed during the ''FanFic/TamersForeverSeries''
-->''"What am I supposed to do now?" Henry whispered. His body let go of itself and Henry fell right next to the immense rookie Digimon.''
-->''"I know what they want me to do…they want me to just jump to the front line and take my friends to battle, as if we were soldiers willing to die for our country. Besides, they think it's so easy…that in the end, Daemon will be defeated, just like D-Reaper and the Nightmare."''
-->''The sound of Henry's fist crashing against the floor covered Jeri's gasp.''
-->''"Of course! If the kids do it, it's because it's easy, right?"''
* ''[[FanFic/KakashisKid Kakashi's Kid]]'', a ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' fic, has one of the genius's children as the narrator. She has no hopes of leading a nonviolent life, [[spoiler:especially if her mother is indeed an Uzumaki]].
* Also from ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'',''[[FanFic/SpiderThread Spider Thread]]'' has the main trio becoming ninja at a very young age.
* Again, this is a major premise of Naruto, so it naturally comes up in the Justice League {{crossover}} ''FanFic/ConnectingTheDots''. The principled Justice League is horrified to discover there is a whole dimension of child assassins, even though Flash points out that the League employs plenty of teenagers.
* [[http://www.mediaminer.org/fanfic/view_st.php?id=112882&submit=View Digimon Clone Wars]] introduces the Red Ribbon Army (not to be mistaken with the one form Dragon Ball), a terror organization lead by Davis, who consists entirely out of the cloned children of the other Digidestineds. Taken [[UpToEleven up to eleven]] by the fact, that some of those children are not even two years old. The sad thing is, the author actually thinks Davis is a good guy, despite that and expects us, [[RootingForTheEmpire to root for him.]]
* The Cutie Mark Crusaders officially become ones in chapter 16 of ''[[{{Fanfic/AceCombatEquestriaChronicles}} Ace Combat: The Equestrian War]]''. To their credit, they actually ''want'' to fight the griffins and they helped in defending Ponyville ealier.
* [[FanFic/TheServantsOfUngoliant Darklanders]] that serve as Ungoliant's soldiers are inclined to be teenagers and young adults. Individuals older than twenty-six are relatively uncommon.
* In ''Fanfic/BoysDoTankary'', several of the characters have actual military experiene despite not being older than the ''Anime/GirlsUndPanzer'' cast. Nyra is 12, her crew consists of several teenage girls. On the more extreme side, Vincent was ''six'' when he entered the army, and he and Gage were ''[[ImprobableAge seven]]'' when they got leadership of their own platoons. While the war is portrayed fairly disturbingly, the implications it would have on the kids are not fully explored, although Vincent and Gage are driven to drink by a series of events that resulted in Nyra's death [[spoiler:or so they thought at the time]].

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* The titular character of ''Disney/{{Mulan}}'' is sixteen when she is sent off to war. Her father was the one who was meant to, but due to his physical disabilities Mulan ran off dressed as a boy.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheBookOfLife'', Joaquin becomes a part of General Posada's army at the age of 10. Somewhat justified given how the other recruits weren't exactly strong and Joaquin showed promise (mostly due to the Medal of Everlasting Life).

[[folder:Films -- Live Action]]
* It was the plot of ''Film/{{Toys}}''. [[spoiler:Kids are trained to fly military drones by arcade machines, unwittingly turning themselves into child soldiers]].
* ''Franchise/StarWars'':
** The Clone Troopers are considered combat ready at age ten, though they go through accelerated aging and look twenty.
** You also have the Jedi. Who are sent out into the field at fourteen or younger, looking, fourteen or younger, to chop people's arms off with unstoppable laser swords.
* The film adaptation of ''[[Film/ChroniclesOfNarnia Voyage Of The Dawn Treader]]'' starts out with a teenage Edmund lying about his age to try and enlist to fight in UsefulNotes/WorldWarII. Unfortunately, the recruiting officer can tell he's underage and turns him down. Apparently, Edmund's tried multiple times and is becoming increasingly frustrated.
* The Italian-produced UsefulNotes/WorldWarII film ''Hornets' Nest'' involves a group of Italian children taking up arms against the Nazis after their parents are massacred by the SS. A little on the unrealistic side, with untrained kids mowing down countless Nazis left and right, it can't quite seem to decide if it wants to show war as an adventure or as a grim reality with tragic psychological tolls that come with children becoming killers, and its efforts to have it both ways leave it feeling a bit disjointed.
* ''Film/{{Taps}}'': Seen during a standoff between the cadets at a military school for boys and the Army. All of the cadets are teenagers or younger and are handling live weapons.
* The main characters in ''Film/BarelyLethal'' are girls trained since they are little kids to be badass assassins, but apparently don’t go into the field until they’re teenagers.
* "The Kid" from the second and third ''Film/{{Matrix}}'' movies enlists in Zion's defense forces despite being too young. After bluffing about his age and getting busted, he argues that "the machines don't care how old I am" and the officer reluctantly agrees to let him join up.
** While at deaths door, [[spoiler: said officer admits that he did the same thing when he first enlisted, as he give The Kid the encouragement he needs to carry the rest of the mission without him.]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/BattlestarGalactica1978'': "The Young Lords".
--> ''At the bridge the youngest daughter--drops [[NicknamingTheEnemy tin cans]] into the water''
* ''Series/{{Frasier}}'': Frasier and Niles' Greek aunt Zora.
-->'''Niles:''' Have you forgotten that when Hitler invaded Greece, she joined the partisans so she could strangle Nazis?
-->'''Frasier:''' I have never believed that. She would have been five at the time.
-->'''Niles:''' That's why the legend says they were strangled with jump ropes.
* ''Series/PowerRangersTurbo'': Justin Stewart, the Blue Ranger.
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'':
** Nog is a sci-fi version of Plucky Middie.
** The Jem'hadar are a race engineered to fight for the Dominion, and to grow to adult size very rapidly. One seasoned veteran spoke with pride of how he'd attained the ripe old age of eight. Being 20 means you're an Honored Elder.
* ''Series/{{Firefly}}'': River is adorable, despite being a solider. Luckily, Simon was able to save her from the ominous Academy so she has a chance to be helped, and he would ''never'' let [[SchoolForScheming The Academy]] threaten her safety. ''Ever.''
* ''Series/AmericanOdyssey'': A teenage boy named Aslam is given a gun and told to guard Odelle, the prisoner. It's implied he already knows how to use the weapon.

* Edilio trains them in ''Literature/{{Gone}}''.
* The kid from the ''Literature/EndersGame'' series. And, to an only slightly lesser extent, the majority of characters in that series (or at least the first book). To be more specific, the International Fleet is not looking for more CannonFodder. They need capable commanders for the upcoming Third Invasion. The idea is that children are too young to fully understand and agonize over sending soldiers to their deaths. They are also more flexible (mentally) and can learn to think like the enemy.
* Many characters in Fiona Patton's Literature/TalesOfTheBranionRealm, justified by the medieval setting. Crosses over with EnfanteTerrible in some cases.
* King Matt and friends from Janush Korczak's "King Matt the First" where the pre-teen king also institutes a children's parliament. It ends in a complete, brutally realistic ruin for his country.
* The eponymous witches in the short story "Witch War" by Richard Matheson. Young girls with magical powers who use them as weapons in a WWII setting. And it's very disturbing.
* ''Literature/TheChroniclesOfNarnia'': Peter and Edmund in the first two books (and Susan in the films); Jill and Eustace in ''The Last Battle''.
* ''Literature/TheWarAgainstTheChtorr''. With most of the world population killed off by alien plagues, anyone old enough to fight the alien invaders is conscripted into the military.
* In ''Century Rain'' by Creator/AlastairReynolds, one of the two major human factions in the setting, the Polity, used genetically engineered, nanotechnology enhanced child-soldiers against the other major faction, the United States of Near Earth, in a war some time before the beginning of the novel. They later show up in the course of the novel, as part of a rogue Polity group which is attempting to destroy the book's MacGuffin. They are described as being particularly hard to fight because of human instincts and their own extreme skill and small size.
* Massively subverted in Creator/JohnScalzi's ''Literature/OldMansWar'' series - While normally only Earth's elderly are recruited into the Colonial Defence Forces (their bodies get replaced), Special Forces soldiers are created from the DNA of recruits who die before they can be transferred to a new body. As a result they are fully mature adults who are emotionally and socially retarded, which helps them perform their jobs. In ''The Ghost Brigades'' one SF soldier notes that a dead child they encounter on a wildcat colony is twice as old as two of them put together, leading him to conclude that "it's a fucked up universe".
* In Creator/RobertAHeinlein's ''Literature/SpaceCadet'' the Commander of the Academy talks briefly of taking these young men and changing them forever. Even those who eventually drop out will find civilian life foreign to them. Robert A. Heinlein graduated from the US Naval Academy at Annapolis at the age of 22. He may know what he's talking about.
* In the ''Literature/SeafortSaga'' the radiation associated with FTL travel means you must join the Navy as a child so your body acclimatises to it as you grow up; otherwise you risk cancer. The protagonist finds himself commanding a ship for several years, starting at the age of 17. Later he is Commander of the Naval Academy and must send the academy cadets on suicide missions to defend Earth.
* In the short story by Creator/HarryHarrison, ''War With The Robots'', the command staff are all teenagers as anyone older lacks the reflexes and flexibility of mind needed to fight the war. They retire after four or five years.
* In ''[[Literature/LegacyOfTheAldenata Yellow Eyes]]'', Panama is forced to recruit children as soldiers to defend itself from the Posleen. It avoids becoming a MoralEventHorizon because it is clearly portrayed as a desperation move against the Posleen, [[HordeOfAlienLocusts who would have killed and eaten the children anyway if they weren't stopped]]. Also, the children are rarely used as front-line soldiers, instead they are used primarily for supply and logistics work in order to free up adults to fight in the front lines.
* Most of Literature/{{Redwall}}'s main heroes are the rodentine equivalent of about twelve to fifteen years old.
* The Literature/HonorHarrington novels have an inversion of sorts, where due to the effects of Prolong (a lifespan-increasing treatment), freshly graduated soldiers will often still look like [[strike: preteens]] young teenagers--but are actually in their thirties or forties. This produces some dissonance when they meet societies that haven't had access to the treatment.
* Literature/TheTomorrowSeries is about a group of teens (exact age not specified, though they're still in school) who inadvertently become guerilla soldiers when their country (Australia) is invaded while they're out camping.
* The whole ''Literature/HarryPotter'' series is about kids getting caught up in their elders' war and recruited/forced to fight in it in various capacities. This is an instance of "Precociously Talented Type" and "Just Plain Tragic Type" combined.
* Ditto for the Literature/PercyJackson series. Neither side thinks twice about recruiting and training to fight demigods as young as ten years old. Percy himself fights his first battles at age twelve, Annabeth fights hers only seven. Somewhat [[JustifiedTrope justified]] because monsters are constantly out to kill them, eat them, or both, so knowing how to fight is a requirement for any demigod to survive.
* ''Literature/BitterSeeds'' has a team of Nazi child psychic soldiers.
* David Westheimer's alternate history novel about a 1945 invasion of Japan features a Japanese schoolteacher leading his malnourished class against American tanks. Tragically, it's implied that the teacher is so fanatical that he ignores his charges' youthful status; at one point the night before the attack, he hears children sobbing and debates whether or not to order his 'troops' to look for them. When they do rush the American tanks with inadequate satchel charges, the US tankers are briefly surprised, thinking they are being attacked by midgets, then open fire and kill them all.
* Rana Sanga's son Rajiv in the ''Literature/BelisariusSeries'' was being groomed to be a quite formidable WarriorPrince while still a teenager. However his father certainly intended that he be allowed to grow up before seeing actual combat and he only participates in war in the series because of an attempt to murder his family while his father is away on campaign.
* In ''Literature/WhoFearsDeath'' this is part of Mwita's background.
* A subversion is found in the Creator/PhilipKDick novel ''The Counter-Clock World'' where aging reversed decades ago, and there's a commando squad of elderly soldiers who are now the size of small children and infants.
* In ''Literature/ABrothersPrice'', the Whistler family's grandmothers were all soldiers-turned-thieves-turned-spies, and they passed a great deal on to their descendents. When a shot rings out near the house while their mothers and older and middle sisters are out, leaving no one older than twelve save for a brother, they get themselves inside, younger siblings and boy first, older ones "doing a slower rear guard, scanning over their shoulders for lost siblings or strangers." The twelve-year-old girl goes with her soldier training to give orders, and little girls work in teams to load rifles and guard the windows. However, they never actually have to see action--a captain advises her princess to keep back, she doesn't want to have to execute an eight-year-old for shooting her--and said princess is later horrified at the thought of the little girls riding out with her after some smugglers. They want to come, but their elder sisters won't let them.
* In ''Literature/StoneKing'', youths as young as twelve are conscripted into the Japan Self-Defense Force's Titan Corps.
* As part of the BattleTechExpandedUniverse, seveal novels mention child mechwarriors: Several 15-16 year olds in the second ''Grey Death'' mercenary's novel are piloting mechs; Later Draconis Combine hero Shin Yodama is mentioned as carrying demolition charges through culverts at the age of 14.
* The ''Literature/SpiritAnimals'' series has an interestingly {{Justified}} example. When the four ''eleven-year-old'' heroes establish bonds with the PhysicalGods known as the Four Fallen, the Greencloaks are forced to send them into battle immediately, because the Devourer is moving ''right then'' and only the Four Fallen have a chance of stopping them.
** Also a specific example when one of the four kids, a girl named Meilin, offers to champion the party in a ritual duel. Naturally, the grown-ups assume she's off her head, until she explains that she's been trained in this world's version of kung-fu since she was five.
* ''Literature/TheCandyShopWar'' justifies this trope. Magic in the universe has an in-built Catch22Dilemma: Magic works best when you are young, but takes so long to learn that by the time you can do magic you've lost the power. Thus, the villains manipulate children into doing their dirty work.
* In ''Literature/TheRedVixenAdventures'' when Alinadar was six her family was killed and she was enslaved by the vicious pirate Bloody Margo. As soon as she could hold a rifle she was sent out with the boarding parties. [[spoiler: At her trial historical precedent for child soldiers is brought up and she is exonerated of the crimes she committed as a minor, but not those acts of piracy from her service with the much less domineering Red Vixen as an adult.]]
* In Jeramey Kraatz's ''Literature/TheCloakSociety'' novel ''Fall of Heroes'', Carla tells Lone Star that having a sidekick was bad enough; to let the teenagers fight is this trope.
* ''Literature/JourneyToChaos'': The Dragon's Lair mercenary company has a {{reconstructed}} version of this trope. It accepts new members as young as ten years old but only as apprentices, and only part time. The vast bulk of their missions are harmless chores like painting someone's shop or collecting medical ingredients, because they are still in training. They don't go on missions with any danger until they have sufficient practice and even then their adult mentor is the one expected to do the heavy fighting. They won't be real soldiers until they have demonstrated both the maturity and the combat skill to handle being a real soldier. In other words, when they are no longer children.
* The ''Literature/LockwoodAndCo'' series is presented as a light adventure version of this trope, so not Plain Tragic, though it would be with a different tone to the writing. The UK is in the grip of a disaster in the form of ghosts appearing, which have a touch which will set a living human inexorably and incurably dying, which will affect everyone while only children can see them. The children sometimes become sensitives, which do not fight but see the ghosts, or agents, which combat the ghosts; washouts from the agent recruitment become night watch, who can do nothing but fend off the ghosts with iron pokers. The larger agencies have well-equipped units of children with the most psionically-talented teens at the front, usually with an adult overseer, leading from behind as it is rare for an adult to retain the ability to see the ghosts. The protagonists are a crew of three.

[[folder: Podcast]]
* ''Podcast/TheDrunkAndTheUgly'': In ''Mrs. Friedas'', the cherub project genetically engineered Nele and his siblings to be super-powered soldiers.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The citizens of the planet Cadia in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' are trained from birth for combat, mainly because their planet is parked right outside a NegativeSpaceWedgie that leads straight to hell, and frequently spews forth the LegionsOfHell. The birth rate and recruitment rate is the same thing. Their soldiers enter combat as part of the youth army, the "Whiteshields," at age 13. They only get promoted to the full army by earning a medal. And they are ''badass''. A common saying is that any Cadian who can't field-strip his own lasgun by the age of ten was born on the wrong planet.
** Similarly, Catachans. Their homeworld is basically "if Australia was a jungle" in terms of EverythingTryingToKillYou, and three quarters of the children don't even make it to adulthood. Those who do? The Catachan Devils are armies made entirely of Franchise/{{Rambo}}es if they'd been cast in Franchise/{{Predator}}.
** Stormtroopers, Commissars and Sisters of Battle are trained in military orphanages from very early age. While they usually don't see combat until graduation, their training includes shooting at live targets, usually at convicts.
** {{Space Marine}}s, due to the requirements of their [[AppliedPhlebotinum implants]], are inducted into the chapter at around the onset of puberty, and the [[TheSpartanWay entry requirements]] make sure they must be well-versed in the act of war before they're even considered. Their transformation into full-fledged Space Marines isn't complete by the time they're seeing battle as part of the chapter's Scout Company. That said, said Scouts are usually in their early thirties by then.
*** As in so many other things, [[Literature/SpaceWolf Space Wolves]] are the exception. They take in valorous young men on the brink of death, usually in their twenties (leading the population of their planet Fenris to see their order as a WarriorHeaven in itself, but that is neither here nor there). Although we're never given figures on the success rate, the [[HonorBeforeReason wisdom]] of this is uncertain; when Leman Russ was found by the Emperor, his [[BandOfBrothers associates]] all volunteered to become Space Marines, and over half died from implant rejection. On the other hand, few of them were young in any way, and several were downright [[BadassGrandpa elderly]].
* This crops up in ''TabletopGame/PsionicsTheNextStageInHumanEvolution''. Psionic powers often manifest in adolescence and young adulthood, but can occur in childhood. Just because you’re 7, it doesn’t mean you’re too young to join, be press-ganged, or sold into a conspiracy.
* The premise of TabletopGame/BlissStage is that the only people left who can fight the AlienInvasion are teenagers.
* A number of races in TabletopGame/WarhammerFantasy do this as well. Dark Elves begin training the moment they are strong enough to pick up a sword or spear. All Bretonian knights start off as a Knight Errant. Once the young knights have proven their worth in the field of battle, they are knighted and receive a small plot of land to rule.
** Given to the nature of Bretonnia [[FantasyCounterpartCulture to that of Medieval Feudal Europe]], it is [[FridgeHorror assumable the Knights Errant are actually young boys ages 13 to 17.]] Needless to say, [[RedshirtArmy they die a lot.]]
* In the TabletopGame/D20Modern Sourcebook D20 Apocalypse, kids as young as 12 can be adventurers (explorers, scavengers, and other people who constantly brave the post apocalypse world). While they are not soldiers, given how hostile the post apocalypse world is, they might as well be. And the minimum age for law enforcement (vigilante, town militia...) is 15. {{Justified|Trope}} by the post apocalyptic setting, where people have to learn fast or die at the hand of raiders/mutated monsters/other.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/SakuraWars'': Nearly all of the members of the different combat Divisions shown in the series are, at the oldest, in their mid-to-late teens or early twenties, with Maria Tachibana being an established veteran of the Russian Civil War at only 19, and Leni Milchstrasse being part of a German SuperSoldier project from a very young age. Iris, Coquelicot, and [[VideoGames/SakuraWarsSoLongMyLove Rika]]/[[DubNameChange Rosita]], however, take the cake, being only ten or eleven.
* Latooni, Seolla, Arado, and Princess Shine from ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsOriginalGeneration''. The first three are {{Tykebomb}}s, while the fourth is a [[EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses princess]] who isn't ''technically'' enlisted, and is simply allowed to fight alongside the other heroes to protect her [[TheKingdom Kingdom]].
** Also, Mihiro Ardygun in ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsW'', who co-pilots the Valhawk with her older brother (himself 16) at the age of 10. [[spoiler:During the TimeSkip, while her brother was missing, she took over piloting duties full-time.]] Though not a soldier ''officially'', she does fight on behalf of a government organization that does include several soldiers, including the aforementioned child soldiers from ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundamWing Gundam Wing]]'' and ''Lightnovel/FullMetalPanic''.
* In ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'', the Master Chief and his fellow [[SuperSoldier Spartans]] started their [[TheSpartanWay grueling military training]] at age six, and have been kicking [[ScaryDogmaticAliens Covenant]] rear since they were fourteen. Their skills and reputation are such that the Covenant calls them "demons."
** ''Literature/HaloGhostsOfOnyx'' goes even further, with the SPARTAN-III program, which turned children into ''suicide'' super soldiers who went off to fight and die at around the age of ''twelve''.
* 14-year-old Leo Stenbuck [[FallingIntoTheCockpit fell into the cockpit]] of Jehuty in ''VideoGame/ZoneOfTheEnders'', but continued to fight of his own free will as a part of the military afterwards, and is only 16 in the sequel.
* What's a young girl in a pretty white dress doing as one of the top three generals in ''VideoGame/ChronoCross''? At least you can say the other kids making up the party weren't inducted into the army, what with growing up in the streets as a thief, swinging an oar, fishing, or being abandoned in the woods at 3 with only an axe and [[CuteBruiser the highest strength score in the game]] to survive.
* Some of the backstory for the ''VideoGame/{{Crusader}}'' games indicates the Silencer Corps (of whom the main character was a member) prospects are identified through mandatory testing on adolescents. It's also hinted that it's no so much physical prowess they're looking for as it is psychological suitability...
* In ''VideoGame/SabresOfInfinity'' the Tierran army's minimum enlistment age for officers is 14, making the protagonist one if they so choose.
* In ''VideoGame/ValkyriaChronicles'', Gallia has a policy of Universal Conscription, so military training is a part of general education and citizens as young as fifteen may be called up to serve. Moreover, the militia is known to have soldiers as young as ''twelve'', although the girl in question enlisted voluntarily and required special permission to do so.
** Even worse, the little girl is a ''shocktrooper'', the most durable ''and'' most damaging troop type in the game.
* ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'', while not exactly soldiers the children who live in Little Lamplight are all well armed little nutjobs. You can even sell them guns, ammo, and drugs. And thermonuclear devices.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'', no one in the game seems to consider the idea of a fourteen year old Cloud Strife joining the Shinra Army unusual (Zack Fair also joined in a similarly young age). And then there's people like Sephiroth, Shelke, and Cissne who started their fighting careers as mere children, although not through any choice of their own.
* The [=SeeD=] in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'' functions as a highly regarded military academy type institution and many students enter voluntarily. Students typically aren't taught in combat until their teens, and don't see actual combat outside of the training room until their graduation. Upon graduation, the SEED sometimes also work side jobs in policing duties and receive a regular salary.
** Also the underlying function of the [=SeeD=] is to [[spoiler: be prepared to defend the world against [[BigBad an imprisoned evil sorcerer]]]]
** However see the below category to see the flip side of this.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX'', we have Eiko, a WhiteMage girl who can use SummonMagic. She happens to be six years old and is the SoleSurvivor of her tribe, apart from a bunch of Moogles, who keep her company. She is also WiseBeyondHerYears and not only understands the complexity of the world-threatening conflict when Zidane and his friends meet her, but willingly joins them to SaveTheWorld. The rest of the cast, while not nearly as young as Eiko, are also mostly teenagers and overall ''Final Fantasy IX'' has the youngest cast on average of any main game in the series.
* ''VideoGame/FireEmblem'' has a few child characters, mostly [[StreetUrchin thieves]], Mages in training (and a few full fledged mages) and exiled royalty (often TheHero), or [[OurDragonsAreDifferent Manaketes]] who are Really700YearsOld. Older ones around 16-17 are very common. The youngest [[TheHero lord]] is Roy of [[VideoGame/FireEmblemElibe Fire Emblem 6]], who was put in charge of an army initially consisting mainly of members who look barely older than him at age 15; but for units in general it is taken to extremes by [[VideoGame/FireEmblemTellius Rolf and Mist]], who are put on the battlefield as an archer and a healer, respectively, while looking barely 10 or 11 years old (well, Rolf at least; according to some sources, Mist is [[OlderThanTheyLook only a year younger than Ike, i.e. sixteen]] in ''Path of Radiance''), and further by Nah of ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAwakening'', who, considering Manakete aging, must be around the physical age of an early elementary schooler at most, [[WiseBeyondTheirYears (but still has the maturity of someone much older)]].
* Ikari Warriors member Whip from ''VideoGame/TheKingOfFighters'' is only 16.
** She was also a TykeBomb, seperated from her brother [[spoiler:K]]. Heidern really enjoys recruiting young girls for some reason.
* Grunt from ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' is a tank born krogan who is and acts like a child... by krogan standards. His major issue is that he is not only clanless but his "father" was hated by many krogan. In his case he's technically only a few days/weeks old in ''Mass Effect 2'', but has the body of a krogan in late adolescence and had memories and knowledge downloaded into his brain.
** Quarians in the ''Franchise/MassEffect'' universe are frequently involved in combat before and during their Pilgrimage (their rite of passage into adulthood).
** Thane mentions training as an assassin since the age of six, with his first kill taking place when he was ''twelve''.
* Ayame from ''VideoGame/{{Tenchu}}'' counts, as she's only 14 during the events of ''Tenchu 2''.
* Spirits are raised from birth to be soldiers in ''VisualNovel/EienNoAselia''. Birth doesn't appear to start at infancy for them, however.
* The ''Franchise/MetalGear'' franchise has Frank Jaeger [[spoiler:a.k.a. Null a.k.a. Gray Fox a.k.a. the Cyborg Ninja.]] Although his exact age is unknown, he fought in the Mozambican War of Independence around the age of 7 or so. Armed only with a knife, he got his name by his method of killing: he deceived the enemy with "the frankness of a young boy" and moved in for the close kill. He was known as the 'Frank Hunter,' which became 'Frank Jaeger' because he could speak a little German. During the events of ''Portable Ops'', his chronologically first appearance, Frank [[spoiler:was still only a teenager when subjected to sensory deprivation treatment in order to make him the emotionless 'Perfect Soldier,' Null.]]
** And we have [[spoiler:Raiden]] who became a child soldier in the Liberian Civil War thanks to Solidus, recieving the nicknames of "White Devil" and "Jack the Ripper". Having a combat rifle at age six, he became captain of a unit of child soldiers ("the Small Boy Unit") at age ten. Similarly, Solidus himself was also heavily implied to be in his teens when he participated in the war.
** ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'', the novelization, the Official Missions Handbook, and ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolidPeaceWalker'' also heavily imply that Solid and Liquid Snake were raised within the military from a very young age, at least since two years of age, in fact.
* In the original ''VideoGame/FreedomForce'', both Liberty Lad and Sea Urchin are ChildSoldiers themselves. There's a scene in which Man O' War feels uneasy about "putting the wee ones on the front line".
* Zig-Zagged in ''VideoGame/TalesOfTheAbyss''. We have Tear who was trained by Legretta and was given military-grade training from a young age. It shows, but she has a sensitive side too. (And an urge to act like a young girl like thinking it'd be so fun to be hugged by Anise's giant plush animal.) We also have Sync who is only fourteen years old, is a candidate for ThatOneBoss, and falls into the dramatic side given his backstory. One of Sync's comrades, Arietta, also falls into the AlasPoorVillain types, since she can't be any older than 16 yet was trusted by the Daathic Government to act as a bodyguard for Sync. Her successor, Anise, is only ''thirteen'', is [[spoiler:blackmailed into being TheMole because of her parents being hugely in debt]], and clearly had to grow up fast a bit. Oh, and the other god general who's underage by our standards? Asch the Bloody who is 17...and had clearly been in the Daathic Army for ''years'' beforehand. Luke also marches into battle when he's only 17 as well, but consider that [[spoiler:He's actually much ''much'' younger than that!]]
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphoniaDawnOfTheNewWorld'' also gives us Alice, one of the main antagonists who's part of a terrorist organization and is ''clearly'' underage. Marta, too, who is only 15 years old.
* ''VideoGame/LeagueOfLegends'' has no real restrictions on membership beyond the ability to kick enormous amounts of ass, so you can have children fighting amongst adult archangels, insane wizard Yordles, and people who've been in the military for years.
** Annie, who is ''6 years old'' and fights clutching her teddy bear in one hand... and occasionally turning it into an flaming giant to destroy her enemies
** Nunu, a boy whose strong magical abilities are enhanced physically by riding into battle on the back of a [[ABoyAndHisX Yeti]].
** Amumu, an amnesiac [[UndeadChild child]] {{Mummy}}.
** [[LightTheWay Lux]], older than the rest, but still a magically gifted child forcibly conscripted at 13 years old.
** Kog'Maw, who's still an infant, but because he's an infant EldritchAbomination who destroys everything in his path, no one minds.
** While she's grown up now, Riven's backstory indicates that she was a fanatical child soldier for Noxus.
* Niko Bellic, the main protagonist in ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIV'' was about 16 or 17 years old when he and fourteen other child soldiers from his home village fought in the Bosnian war.
* The various Links in ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'' with confirmed ages range in age from seventeen and a half (in [[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword Skyward Sword]]) to ''nine'' (Child Link in [[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime Ocarina of Time]]).
* Although the whole World War Two-themed ''VideoGame/SilentStorm'' cast is adult in the year when the game is set (1943), several of them has this in their background, usually in the form of "joined X army while being 15[=/=]16[=/=]17". Some of them actually saw combat when underaged (the German Reggie was recruited in the beginning of World War One when he was 15, after lying about his age), some other not (Gunnar entered the Wehrmacht at 16, in 1933).
** The straightest example is Carm (an Italien woman), who took part in World War One as a mountain guide for Italian troops when she was pre-teen, and ended to kill a dozen of men during the course of the war (in the actual game, she is in her late thirties).
* The World Annihilation Front of ''VideoGame/SandsOfDestruction'' is composed largely of teenagers, and certain members of the World Salvation Committee are no older. On the Front side, there's Morte at 16 and Kyrie at 17; Agan is 18, Taupy has a VagueAge but is implied to be older than most of his teammates, and Rhi'a is [[ReallySevenHundredYearsOld 300 but as a dragonkin is the equivalent of 15]]. On the Committee side, Naja is 17 and his commander Rajiv appears to be about the same (but is never given an exact age). The leaders of both groups are shown to be adults, however.
* The story mode in ''VideoGame/{{Splatoon}}'' involves the fourteen year old protagonist fighting singlehandedly against the enemy Octarian army.
* Bowser's army in ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros'' features multiple young Koopas, including the Koopalings, Koopa Kids, and Bowser's own son Bowser Jr.
* One of the enemy types in ''VideoGame/Spyro2RiptosRage'' are bird chicks who are soldiers.
* Momo Kuzuryu from ''VideoGame/ValkyrieDriveBhikkhuni'' was one of these before the events of the game and the struggle of adapting to a more peaceful life is the driving point of her character arc.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Benjamin Soderer in [[http://lostcausewebcomic.com/ Lost Cause]] joins the Confederate Army at 16 years old, thinking it will prove his own bravery at such a young age. However, it only proves how unready he is to face the Hells of war.
* The title character in ''Webcomic/{{Terinu}}'' was raised by SpacePirate Mavra Chan to be an assassin, starting at the tender age of nine. His best friend Matt was sold ''by his own father'' to Chan to serve as a cook's mate on the same ship at the age of eleven. It's a sufficiently CrapsackWorld that in Matt's case this was distinct improvement over his previous situation.
* Karcharoth of Webcomic/CryHavoc was conscripted at the age of six, and has been fighting in one army or another for fifteen years. Understandably he has a rather distorted view of life. He was recruited due to his minor, but growing, psychic powers.
* Cloud's mother in ''Webcomic/SandraAndWoo'', Ye Thuza Williams, was a child soldier in Burma. As a result, she tends to teach her children how to employ violence as necessary with mixed results.
* In ''WebComic/StandStillStaySilent'', the army age recruitment standards seem to have greatly dropped:
** First are the Hotakainens, who moved to Keuruu military base and joined the army eleven years before the start of the story. At the time, eldest Onni would have had to be sixteen, his younger sister Tuuri ten and their cousin Lalli eight.
** A flashback involving Lalli confirms he was already scouting a horribly mutated PlagueZombie ridden wilderness ''at night'' at thirteen. The flashback relates an incident during which Lalli improperly filling out an anonymous scout report caused another group of soldiers to venture into a dangerous area and four of them to get killed, which the doctor considers a low number given the attack's violence. Looking at the report causes some authority figure to decide that "all scouts younger than fifteen" are getting a lecture on proper report filling. A fifteen year old Tuuri is seen among the desk workers.
** The Cleansers, a DemolitionsExpert unit working with high grade explosives, has two fine print elements on their recruitment poster: one telling people they need to be at least thirteen to join, the other saying that joining voids all life insurance. [[http://www.sssscomic.com/comic.php?page=119 It can be seen here]].

[[folder:Web Original]]
* [[ProudWarriorRace Sirene]] from the [[PlayByPostGames forum RP]] ''Roleplay/OpenBlue'' is a highly militarised country that drafts children as young as 12 for a four-year service, with the exception of children qualified for technical schooling instead. Not even royals are exempt.
* Zero Takaishi of Literature/{{Tasakeru}} joined with the Daigundan and became a samurai at age 13, as is the custom for males of his species.
* The youngest WebOriginal/ProtectorsOfThePlotContinuum are about thirteen years old when they start in the field. The youngest agent ever, Ella Darcy, was ''ten'' when she joined, but she wasn't a field agent.
* Done with a complete lack of angst in ''Literature/MagicalGirlHunters''. The protagonists stop to comment a few times on how horrible it is for children to be taught to fight at an early age. [[BlackComedy Usually right before putting a bullet between their eyes]].
* ''Podcast/WelcomeToNightVale'' has thirteen-year-old Tamika Flynn, [[spoiler:leading a child militia against Strex Corp.]] She's already a veteran at this, having taking down the librarians at twelve.
--> '''Tamika:''' We do not look around. We do not look inside. We do not sleep. Our god is not a smiling god, [[BadassBoast and we are ready for this war]].
* The Lambsbridge Gang in ''Literature/{{Twig}}'' begins the story as a group of kids barely into the double digits, with the implication that they've been acting as a wetworks team for the AcademyOfEvil for several years already.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Occasionally implied in the Franchise/{{Transformers}} metaseries with the younger-minded characters. Done outright in ''TransformersAnimated'' with Sari [[spoiler: especially after she turns out to be a RobotGirl]] and is pushed into the front lines in season 3.
** The episode "Human Error" [[spoiler: (where the main 'bots are shown in analogous human bodies)]] shows that Bumblebee is the Cybertronian equivalent of [[ToyShip roughly her age]].
** [[spoiler: Omega Supreme]] might also count, given that he was specifically created to be a superweapon and purposefully made mentally 'slow' so that he wouldn't question orders. Not a child, but close to a child's mind.
*** The Transformers in ''Animated'' have an explicit childhood stage. He was a child soldier with mild mental retardation, and the actions of his creators made it clear that they knew what this would do to him, and how wrong their actions were.
** ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime'''s version of Bumblebee may also be considered this. The [[AllThereInTheManual prequel novels]] state outright that he was among the final generation of Cybertronians to be born, and while fighting on the front lines is not given any explicit significance for him, the episode "Masters and Students" hints that he's not officially recognized as warrior-class due to being too young, though a later episode would have him admit he was holding off until they fixed Cybertron.
* Jedi Padawans such as Ahsoka Tano of ''WesternAnimation/StarWarsTheCloneWars'' could very much be considered this. Ahsoka is only fourteen or fifteen and yet leads troops into battle and gets into the thick of the fighting herself. Their talent with the force and training from childhood makes even the Padawans very deadly warriors.
** When Kamino comes under attack, the clone cadets take up arms to defend their home. Thanks to their accelerated growth, they're about as half as young as they look.
* ''WesternAnimation/CodenameKidsNextDoor''.
** It gets better. The KND are a global organisation with, amongst other things: A [[SpaceBase Moonbase]], [[KillSat orbital cannons]], [[StandardSciFiFleet spaceships]], [[AwesomePersonnelCarrier military]] [[TankGoodness vehicles]], HumongousMecha, [[FrickinLaserBeams lasers]], ''[[AirborneAircraftCarrier a giant flying convention center]]'' and huge "hidden" bases that recruit kids at around 5-7 years old, train them and kick them out when their thirteen, [[LaserGuidedAmnesia wiping their memory just in case they go rogue]]. They are an ''army'' of child soldiers. The only reason this isn't presented as horrifying at all is because they are every bit as childish as non-members (if not more). Executing a huge, global operation to fill in the ''Grand Canyon'' as a giant cereal bowl, anyone?
* The plot of ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender''? A group of kids and teenagers take down the [[TheEmpire Fire Nation]] army.
** Many of the main antagonists (though not the BigBad) are also teenagers.
* Episode 8 of ''WesternAnimation/SymBionicTitan'' had The Academy on Galaluna, a military training facility which starts training future soldiers as children. To be fair, however, it is partially Truth In Television: most of them are teenagers, and military schools do exist for such ages. However, they also showed a row of children who looked even shorter, and, presumably, younger than Lance and Arthur — who were already small and really young-looking to begin with.
* In the original ''WesternAnimation/{{Thundercats}}'', the Thunderkittens are apparently about twelve, or their species' equivalent, but they go into combat just as much as the adults. Lion-O is a borderline case, since he begins the series physically adult, but mentally a child.
* In ''WesternAnimation/Ben10Omniverse'', [[spoiler:the Amalgam Kids that first showed up in ''Alien Force'' are revealed to be products of experimentation by a rogue branch of Plumbers called The Rooters, and were created for the purpose of destroying Ben, then inflicted with LaserGuidedAmnesia when their attempt to take him out failed]].
* ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'':
** This gets {{lampshaded}} in ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'', where the team is the black ops for the Justice League, where the oldest of them is 16 and the youngest is 13. An exasperated Mr. Twister brings this up after he [[CurbStompBattle curb stomps]] them when Robin protests that they aren't children.
--> "Objectively, you are. Have you no adult supervision? I find your presence here quite disturbing."
** Later discussed in the episode "Agendas". With the League discovering that [[spoiler: [[ComicBook/{{Shazam}} Captain Marvel]] is only ten]], they begin debating whether to boot him out of the Justice League. Batman says he knew all along, and it has no impact.
--> '''Franchise/WonderWoman''': I shouldn't be surprised, since you indoctrinated Robin into crime-fighting at the ripe old age of nine.
--> '''Batman''': Robin ''needed'' to help bring the man who murdered his family to justice.
--> '''Wonder Woman''': So he could turn out like you?
--> '''Batman''': So that he wouldn't.
** By season two, the story has started to edge into the "tragic" sub-category, as the child heroes have to confront the death and trauma that comes from their job.
* Similar to above, the ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans''. In the comics most of them eventually grow up quickly enough to avert this for most people, but the main gang in the cartoons doesn't. They almost die on several occasions, have no adult supervision, and the youngest is between the ages of fourteen and sixteen.
* [[BadassNormal Caleb]] in ''WesternAnimation/{{Witch}}'' is the leader of the rebellion at 15 years old.
** ''W.I.T.C.H.'' themselves, with Will celebrating her thirteenth birthday in an early episode and Hay Lin being the youngest at twelve (presumably). It probably helps they get ElementalPowers as well as an OlderAlterEgo when they transform. Will's boyfriend Matt begins to train as a a warrior in season two, though this is his choice and Will is not happy about it. Some of Caleb's troops in season one look even younger than him, but they're still effective in ambushes and combat.
* Dutch's younger brother Dar in {{WesternAnimation/Motorcity}}, who works for Kane Co. He looks up to and respects Abraham Kane. [[spoiler: He pretty goes through the same experience Mike did in "Vendetta"]].
* Three of the Paladins from ''WesternAnimation/VoltronLegendaryDefender'' are teenage MilitaryAcademy students[[note]](one of whom apparently lied about their age as well as their name/gender when enrolling)[[/note]], while a fourth was a peer who got kicked out due to discipline issues. Too be fair to the alien princess that [[RecruitTeenagersWithAttitude shanghaied them into war against a galaxy-spanning evil empire]], Allura did not have any real option at the time.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* The training of a Medieval [[KnightInShiningArmor knight]] was usually begun at the age of seven (7), and it was claimed ''after twelve, the boy is fit only for a priest''. When a [[KidSamurai young nobleboy]] made 13, he was expected to serve his master on battlefield as a valet. At 17, he would serve as a fully armed man-at-arms.
* Calvin Graham, one of the many underage enlistees who served in UsefulNotes/WorldWarII and became a bit of a celebrity figure in his time (and underage enlistees were often made to run extra miles and lug extra loads in the TrainingFromHell). Unfortunately, due to the US government policy he was not able to get veteran benfefits. Despite that, his ship, the ''South Dakota'', was one of the most feared ships in the Pacific Front.
* Galusha Pennypacker of Pennsylvania was a sixteen-year-old sergeant in 1861, a seventeen-year-old major months later -- and twenty when promoted to Brigadier General in 1865 (he was instrumental in the capture of Fort Fisher and was also awarded the Medal of Honor). He was still too young to vote at the time.
* John Lincoln Clem (born John Joseph Klem) ran away from home to join the Union army at age nine. Both recruiters he saw rejected him for obvious reasons but he tagged along with the 22nd Michigan anyway and made himself useful so the 22nd eventually sort of adopted him as a mascot and drummer boy, with officers chipping in to pay him a soldier's wage of $13 per month. He was allowed to enlist officially two years later. He served at the Battle of Chickamauga, where he is said to have ridden an artillery caisson to the front and wielded a musket trimmed to his size. In the course of a Union retreat, he shot a Confederate colonel who had demanded his surrender (although there is some debate as to the accuracy of this story), and was later promoted to sergeant, making him the youngest non-commissioned officer in the US army. In October 1863, Clem was captured in Georgia by Confederate cavalry while detailed as a train guard. The Confederate soldiers confiscated his uniform which reportedly upset him terribly—including his cap which had three bullet holes in it. He was included in a prisoner exchange a short time later, but the Confederate newspapers used his age and celebrity status to show "what sore straits the Yankees are driven, when they have to send their babes out to fight us." After participating with the Army of the Cumberland in many other battles, serving as a mounted orderly, he was discharged in September 1864. Clem was wounded in combat twice during the war. After his discharge he went back to school, graduated high school in 1870, and re-joined the army the following year. He stayed in the army until he retired at the age of sixty-four.
* Several conquering kings (or wannabe conquerors/kings) were merely boys when they led their armies into war. Examples include UsefulNotes/AlexanderTheGreat of Macedonia, [[UsefulNotes/CarolusRex Charles XII]] of Sweden, Edward, the Black Prince, of England, and many others.

!!Just Plain Tragic Type

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In order to combat the Nova, the world of ''Manga/{{Freezing}}'' has to use people with the ability to use special implants that allow them to be faster, stronger and heal faster then any human. All of these people are teenaged girls and boys, with the boys, called Limiters, taking a supporting combat roll for the woman, called Pandoras, in battle. The battles with Nova all end in countless graphic and horrible deaths and almost all Pandoras and Limiters carry mental scars of some degree. The constant use of their powers also breaks down their bodies and all Pandoras able to live through their battles die at a very young age.
* ''Anime/NowAndThenHereAndThere'' deals with this trope in an almost unwatchably brutal manner.
* The various groups employing Contractors in ''Anime/DarkerThanBlack'' don't really care much about issues like "age." As such, kids who manifest powers tend to be [[TheCorpsIsMother grabbed up immediately]], {{Unperson}}ed, and trained as assassins or other special agents. Additionally, Hei [[spoiler:was a BadassNormal one; he fought in Heaven's War to protect his Contractor little sister]], and one flashback makes it clear he wasn't more than about 16 when he first got involved.
** Through this is somehow justified by the fact that they [[LackOfEmpathy lose their emotions]] and [[TheSociopath their sense of guilt.]] Even the youngest Contractors seem to become {{Creepy Child}}ren at best and sociopathic cold-blooded murderers at worst.
* ''Manga/GunslingerGirl'':
** The titular girls get rescued from death and [[HollywoodCyborg cybernetically enhanced]] at a very young age. They then are brainwashed into working for an Italian government organization to fight terrorism--generally by [[SmallGirlBigGun using very big guns]].
** Pinocchio's father trained him to become an assassin at a young age.
* The children of ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'' are early on said to have a CompetenceZone of 14, but it seems instead to be a similar result from the AppliedPhlebotinum. Milked for all the drama and {{deconstruction}} it can give.
* Guts from ''Manga/{{Berserk}}'' was trained as a mercenary by his adoptive father when he was just a little boy and had to participate in his share of horrific violence as a result. One of the most horrible things to happen to him back then was being sold by the adoptive father as a sex slave to a pederast soldier for three silver coins.
* ''Manga/{{Bokurano}}'' has a group of 12-13-year olds (the first episode states they've just finished grade school) protecting the whole world from being destroyed. Even if they ''were'' completely well-adjusted to begin with ([[DysfunctionJunction and they're]] ''[[DysfunctionJunction not]]'' -- [[AuthorAppeal this is a Mohiro Kitoh work]]) the circumstances of the 'game' they've found themselves in makes their tenure as 'defenders of earth' more tragic than most other examples on this page combined.
* Runessa of ''Franchise/LyricalNanoha''. As mentioned in ''Audioplay/StrikersSoundStageX'', unlike the other characters, she was born in a world where war was a part of her everyday life, and for as long as she can remember, she had always carried a gun (not a [[MagicWand device]] shaped like a gun, an actual gun).
* Chise from ''Manga/{{Saikano}}''. In high school (or was it Junior High?) but being forced to be in the military and going as far as [[spoiler: turning into a machine with a BerserkButton that is automatically triggered by battle]].
* Kirika and Chloe from ''Anime/{{Noir}}'', and to a lesser extent Mireille, actually belong to both types. Kirika was an active assassin from the time she was ''[[spoiler:[[TykeBomb five]]]]''.
* [[Anime/MobileSuitGundam00 Setsuna F. Seiei]] (mentioned above) also falls into this category. He was forced to watch his fellow child soldiers die and [[spoiler: killed his parents at the bidding of his group's leader.]] Years later, he still dreams about dodging bullets and wishes he could go back in time and save his younger self.
** Really, all Gundam pilots under age 18 are [[BreakTheCutie horribly traumatized and haunted by the horrors of warfare]].
** ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamIronBloodedOrphans'' decides to make this trope the central focus of the series: the heroes are a group of orphan kids/teens raised as child soldiers by PrivateMilitaryContractors who look upon them as disposable, even labelling some of them "Human Debris".
* Kazuma Shudo of ''Manga/KagerouNostalgia'' is a teenage mercenary who's been in the business ever since demons killed his sister and his dreams of being a KidSamurai. He's broken, burned out and sufferring from severe {{shell shock|edVeteran}}. One could argue that Child {{Ninja}} Fuwa, [[DemonSlaying demon-hunting]] [[BadassPreacher initiate]] Shiranui, and {{Tykebomb}} Goki are also this.
* During the Warring Clan's Era of ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'', the life expectancy of shinobi was 30 years, primarily due to the high death rate of their children. Children as young as seven or even younger were deemed shinobi and sent into battle. There they were often [[NightmareFuel ganged up on]] by adults and ruthlessly slaughtered even if they were crying in fear. Oh... and things like AdultFear didn't exist during that time since the killing of children in battle had ''become a norm'' - kill a child now and they won't grow into a more dangerous adult later, weakening the enemy.
* Although they aren't forced to enter, the minimum age requirement for the army in ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'' is ''twelve''. Why? Because it has an appallingly high mortality rate and [[TheSpartanWay basic training]] takes three years. That means the main characters are between the age of 15 and 17, thrown out onto the battlefield and forced to fight {{Humanoid Abomination}}s.
** Taken even further with [[spoiler: Reiner, Bertolt, and Annie, who are revealed to be [[TykeBomb child terrorists]] sent to exterminate humanity by a yet-unknown force. The younger two were ''eleven'' when they committed their first act of mass murder. The oldest of the three, all of twelve at the time, is shown to have suffered such guilt over his actions that he's gone insane]].
* ''Anime/GargantiaOnTheVerdurousPlanet'' stars Ledo, who has been in his space colony military fighting squid-like monsters for basically ''his entire life''. [[spoiler:Naturally, his society is SocialDarwinist to the point where fighting ''is'' his life; they lost the very concepts of family members such as brothers and sisters, as well as of thanks and "''coexistence''". And on top of that, those too weak or sick to fight these monsters are summarily euthanized.]] ''This is the only way of life the guy has ever known.''
* This is nothing compared to Creator/GenUrobuchi (the co-writer of the above series)'s seminal work, ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica''. You may have thought before that being a MagicalGirl wasn't as glamorous as the costumes make it look; this CosmicHorrorStory brutally reminds us that Franchise/SailorMoon and Nanoha were just ''adolescents'' tasked with putting their lives at risk to fight weird monsters and save the world, even though adolescents aren't always known for their decision-making abilities [[spoiler:which becomes the [[TearJerker very tragic]] crux of this show]].
* In ''Anime/IlSolePenetraLeIllusioni'', we have what happened if MagicalGirl series [[DarkerAndEdgier didn't have]] [[RealityEnsues purification power]], and [[CuttingTheKnot the only way to stop]] [[DemonicPossession Daemonia]] is by [[MurderIsTheBestSolution killing them]] [[IDidWhatIHadToDo with the host]]. It's especially [[BreakTheCutie troublesome]] if the Daemonia [[KillTheOnesYouLove is someone you know]].
* ''Manga/PokemonDiamondAndPearlAdventure'' has [[spoiler:Mitsumi]], who was an orphan who Cyrus adopted and raised to become a skilled, TykeBomb of a Pokemon trainer. She ditches Team Galactic prior to the story [[spoiler:but is forced to rejoin and nearly murders Hareta]].
* Lily from ''Manga/{{Phantom Thief Pokemon 7}}'' was kidnapped by Team Galactic at a young age due to her ability to see aura, brainwashed, and trained to be a violent Galactic member.
* In ''Anime/SandsOfDestruction'', [[spoiler:Morte's younger brother]] Reve joined the [[LaResistance Golden Lions]] to fight the more tyranical beastlords and [[FantasticRacism attempt to gain equality for humans]]. His exact age at the time isn't specified, but he couldn't have been older than twelve. He dies not long after joining [[spoiler:and his death is the catalyst that sets Morte off on her quest to destroy the world]].
* [[spoiler: Suitengu]] of ''Anime/SpeedGrapher'', with the added angst of having been literally sold into it as a slave to repay his parents' debts after their deaths.
* In ''Manga/RurouniKenshin'' Soujiro slaughtered his entire [[BreakTheCutie abusive family]] and joined Shishio as a preteen, to become his foremost assassin as a teenager. [[note]]There are also "precociously talented" examples.[[/note]]
** The Oniwabanshuu seem to have been at least partially raised specifically to be [[{{Ninja}} spies and assassins]]; Aoshi was an accomplished fighter by 13, Han'nya dedicated himself to being useful to them (and Aoshi) after being saved when young, and Misao (at 16) is both a good fighter and fancies herself a full member and capable of even leading them despite having been primarily raised by retirees.
* ''Anime/YukiYunaIsAHero'' starts off as a simple MagicalGirlWarrior anime about a group of middle schooler {{Kid Hero}}es who are assigned by the government to fight Vertexes and protect the planet. Later revelations show that being a Hero is less innocent than originally depicted. It isn't ''lethal'' ([[spoiler:literally]]) but it certainly is dangerous. [[spoiler:[[CompetenceZone "Pure", young girls]] are the only ones who can be used as {{Human Sacrifice}}s to the WorldTree. As they continue to fight their bodies become [[BlessedWithSuck more disabled with time]] as they undergo [[NextTierPowerUp Mankai]].]] The youngest of the {{Magical Girl}}s were elementary schoolers when they began. [[spoiler:One died, another became bedbound, and the third (who is Togo) [[ForgotTheCall lost her memories]] but is ''still'' [[ShellShockedVeteran nervous]] when she's made to become a Hero again.]]
* Anime/YuGiOhArcV takes a long and hard look at this trope in regards to the franchise. Unlike many other ''Franchise/YuGiOh'' series, it shows the realistic effects of putting regular teenagers in life and death situations. With many having either been heavily indoctrinated into becoming sociopaths ([[GreyandBlackMorality both on the antagonist side and the protagonist side]]) or were broken due to the stress, with results ranging from a CreepyChild to violent ShellShockedVeteran [[AntiHero Anti-Heroes]].

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''ComicBook/LastDaysOfTheJusticeSociety'', ComicBook/TheFlash is shot and killed by a child soldier in 1945 during the fall of Berlin.
* Mariane Satrapi's ''ComicBook/{{Persepolis}}'' featured a portrayal of the real life Iranian unit of children, who were walked into the minefields to detonate them ahead of the troops.
* The Vertigo reboot of ComicBook/UnknownSoldier is set in Acholiland, the base of operations of the Lord's Resistance Army, one of the most infamous RealLife users of child soldiers. Therefore, they're all over the place.
* When the ComicBook/XMen were up against Storm's uncle, a ruthless African dictator, he had a whole unit of child soldiers, trained to be extremely sadistic. Storm had no choice but to kill a squad before they could to the same to her.
** While not as explicit, ComicBook/{{Cyclops}} is an example of a child soldier grown-up. Traumatized as a child (kidnapped father, orphaned with his brother), trained in military tactics from age 14, and sent on paramilitary actions until he was a full adult. Recent X-Men author Kieron Gillen even [[http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/11/03/kieron-gillen-uncanny-xmen-interview/ cited]] this trope as his central motivation for the character.
* Batwing, "the Batman of Africa," has a back story where he was forced into service as a child soldier in the Democratic Republic of Congo. His parents also died of AIDS, completing [[SarcasmMode a truly African backstory]].
* ''ComicBook/TransformersMoreThanMeetsTheEye'' has the Warborn, Cybertronians born during the war. When one of them undergoes a psychotic break, the fact that he's spent his entire life a soldier isn't even raised as a reason for why he's snapped. Not even the ship psychiatrist, the sanest and most empathetic of the cast, is unnerved by the concept.
** A later issue reveals that whole platoons of Cybertronians were brought online solely to fight, and taught the necessary skills required only to fight. They're labelled the Made To Order. And all the [=MTOs=] we've met so far? All Autobots.
** Said issue also reveals the [=MTOs=] are made so quickly they tend to suffer from all manner of neurological impairments. And no-one blinks an eye at this, either.
--> "In the end, High Command decided they wanted their new troops to fight, not study, so they reduced the steps from ten to eight to three. Three steps, Nautica: 'From thaw to war in under an hour.' Because who cares whether or not a warborn knockoff with a three-minute life expectancy can quote Dominus Ambus or notate the Grand Celestial Melody? So long as he can assemble a path-blaster with his brand-new eyes closed, everyone's happy. That's sarcasm, by the way. I dabble."
* A flashback in an issue of ''ComicBook/GreenLantern'' shows that at one point in his past, apparently before he tried taking over his home-planet, Sinestro was confronted by a child suicide bomber on Korugar. [[spoiler:Said child kills Sinestro's wife trying to get him.]]

* ''Fanfic/AdviceAndTrust'': Shinji, Asuka and Rei, fourteen-years-old kids pilot war mechs and fight a war against giant alien monsters. Asuka and Rei have been training her whole lives for it, and the former is especially devoted to it. Often they talk about how broken they are due to be someone else's war tools.
* In ''Fanfic/AllAmericanGirl'', Chrysalis used her abilities to produce numerous pony/changeling hybrid (or "pepsis") children from [[ChildByRape her rape of Shining Armor]]. She then uses her magic to accelerate their growth so they reach young adulthood pretty much at birth. Though some manage to prove themselves and act like generals or elite operatives, she really only views them as tools and pawns in her plans, and is perfectly willing to kill them or send them on a SuicideMission if they show any "weakness" (ie, empathy or morality), and she doesn't really her pure changeling offspring as anything more than tools either, or maybe potential rivals in the case of her princess daughters. Twilight Sunburn can attest to that.
* ''Fanfic/TheChildOfLove'': Shinji, Asuka and Rei are fourteen-years-old kids forced to or cajoled into fighting giant alien monsters. This is already pretty bad as it is, but it gets worse when Gendo decides [[spoiler:turning a newborn baby into a war weapon.]]
* ''Manga/{{Evangelion 303}}'': Despite of the original material playing the trope, this fanwork consciously averts it. The creator does not keep the pilots' canon ages, and all of them are at least twenty-years-old.
* In ''Fanfic/DumbledoresArmyAndTheYearOfDarkness'', at least half of the members of the Dumbledore's Army die horribly, and a good amount are crippled or killed in the sequel. However, the fic tends to glorify the hardened child soldiers in comparison to Harry, who hasn't embraced the military mindset. What's more, it gets taken to utterly ludicrous levels. Somehow, they manage to form a complete mock-military structure despite being from a culture with ''no'' armed forces, develop a martyrdom mindset that in real life requires indoctrination from toddlerhood, and in general make an absolute mockery out of the subject. And the injuries they suffer are only terrible because the author's forgotten the ''Literature/HarryPotter'' universe has extremely powerful magical healing.
* The ''Series/{{Firefly}}'' fanfic ''Fanfic/{{Forward}}'' has a reveal later on that some of [[SchoolForScheming the Academy's]] test subjects are pre-teens. It is implied that one of them managed to kill several security guards when a training exercise went out of control.
* ''Fanfic/{{HERZ}}'': Shinji, Asuka and Rei were child soldiers in the past, and the ordeal broke them down. Twelve years after they have mostly recovered but not entirely, and the past will not leave them alone.
* The Franchise/{{Pokemon}} fanfic ''[[Fanfic/PokeWars Dawn of a New Era]]'' features the eponymous Pokémon coordinator as a badass but broken warrior.
* The Sufferists from {{Fanfic/Hivefled}} are led by a WellIntentionedExtremist with a penchant for FantasticRacism, and consist mostly of kids and youths who skipped conscription, with the few adults being mostly disabled. [[spoiler: Said leader later leads all 250 of them into battle with the thousands-strong Alternian fleet, which ends [[CurbStompBattle about as well as you'd expect.]]]]
* ''FanFic/ShinjiAndWarhammer40K'': Reconstructed with Mana when she declares that, yes, she has been traumatized, and yes, she has lost friends, but she is a soldier, it is her LIFE, and she refuses quitting.
* Alex Vaughn, the main protagonist from ''Fanfic/TheTerminatorsArmyOfLegend'' series was kidnapped when he was only three years old and forced into the military. By the time he founds the Terminator Militia, he's only four years old.
* ''Fanfic/TheWarOfTheMasters'': Owing to a bureaucratic mistake between species with different aging rates (Klingons are physically adult several years sooner than humans or Gorn), the Klingon Defense Force and allied services ended up inducting Gorn and Moabite human minors as full soldiers. The practice was abolished after somebody with sense managed to get the age problem across to the Klingon high command, but not soon enough to prevent Moabite teens developing war-induced PTSD, especially after [[ApocalypseHow the Fek'Ihri invasion of Moab III and New Saigon]].
* In ''Fanfic/NeonGenesisEvangelionGenocide'': Shinji, Asuka, Rei and the remaining Children are fourteen-years-old kids forced to drive war machines and win a war. In chapter 11, Misato and Ritsuko argue their position:
-->'''Misato:''' You know, as much as everyone seems to want to blame Asuka, we really are all responsible. Keiko should have never been out there. Sending her was a crime.\\
'''Ritsuko:''' Spoken like someone who doesn't realize that what she does for a living is send children to war. Meanwhile, have you even been to see her?
* ''Fanfic/ChildrenOfAnElderGod'': Played for horror in this Evangelion/Franchise/CthulhuMythos crossover. All adults who try to synch with an [[HumongousMecha Evangelion]] go mad, mutate or die. The only ones capable of piloting an Evangelion are six fourteen-year-old kids who have to fight Cthulhu and co. to save humanity, and whose bodies change and mutate whenever they kill an EldritchAbomination. Eventually they stop being human, and although they don't go mad, they're very traumatized.
* In ''Fanfic/OnceMoreWithFeeling'': Several characters like Kaji highlight that NERV is using kids to fight giant alien monsters, and the Eva pilots have an awful deal, but unfortunately the survival of mankind demands sacrifices. Even so, Shinji is understandably bitter about it.
-->'''Shinji:''' You are asking a fourteen year old child to put his life on the line, going into combat against things that tear through divisions of crack troops.
* The issue is called out in ''Fanfic/NeonMetathesisEvangelion''. There is some discussion about the morality of using child soldiers, and a more in-depth background provided on how this all works.
-->'''Kaji''', ''after Ramiel boiled Asuka and Shinji alive'': "That's why so far nobody has said a word. Asuka is right: Officially, she was at Berlin to help in researching EVA technology, rather than to get combat training as a six year old child. Officially, using the research objects as weapons is an emergency solution. Officially, the children have no military rank, are not part of any armed forces, and could walk away at any time. Hell, that's really why we're making them go to school, isn't? We're upholding an illusion of normalcy that just isn't there. No, those aren't child soldiers, why, they're just normal students who help out at NERV after school.” He shook his head with an ironic grin on his face. “We've presented the world with a lie that's easy to swallow. And because the world is so dependent on those children to defeat the angels, nobody looks too closely and everyone just upholds the lie."
-->"Of course, it's just three pilots. Just three children. In Africa there are several warlords with entire companies and battalions of child soldiers. But nobody cares about Africa. Half its territory is recognized as being stateless. But the U.N. … they have become a pillar of stability since Second Impact. Maybe ''the'' pillar of global stability. The paragon of virtue that keeps the squabbling nation-states at bay. If people become aware, really aware, how ''a U.N. organization'' is using child soldiers..."
** In fact, the pilots point out several times that ''officially'' they aren't part of a military hierarchy and that hence ''officially'' Misato, Gendo, Fuyutsuki aren't their military superiors. Especially Asuak does so, even though she, having been trained since the age of six, doesn't even fully recognize what is wrong with child soldiery. But sometimes using that argument just is convenient for her.

* ''Film/BloodDiamond'' shows the kidnapping and indoctrination of the son of one of the main characters. Includes the real-life practice of giving kids amphetamines to kill any feeling of fear or guilt -- and killing their relatives so they can't go back. Also features children killing children with AK-47s.
* The protagonists in ''Film/WarWitch'' are these.
* Glimpsed in ''The Two Towers'' in ''Film/TheLordOfTheRings''.
** Specifically, there is a scene where the soldiers suit up to defend Helm's Deep and we see a number of people being armed are ''very'' young boys needed to up their soldier count. Mercifully, we're never shown the kids doing any actually combat besides throwing stones at the besiegers from the wall.
* ''Film/{{Downfall}}'' features as one of the POV characters a schoolboy from the Hitler Youth who is defending Berlin from the Red Army. Additionally, a girl of about 12 is manning an 88mm gun at the Battle of Berlin. When everything appears hopeless, her not-much-older comrade shoots her at her own request, then kills himself.
* In ''Film/PacificRim'', the Australian Jaeger consists of father-son duo, Hercules and Chuck Hansen. It's revealed that Chuck enlisted in the Jaeger Academy at 12 and was only 16 when he first deployed in Striker Eureka, replacing his belligerent uncle on the frontlines. And despite having the highest Kaiju kill count in history at 21, Chuck is also shown to have a HairTriggerTemper, terrible communication skills, and a double dose of DaddyIssues and SurvivorsGuilt in regards to his father choosing to save him over his mother. [[spoiler:He later pulls a HeroicSacrifice and blows up Striker Eureka to take down two Kaiju so Gipsy Danger can seal the Breach.]]
--> '''Rob Kazinsky''': From a very, very young age, Chuck grew up trained to be a Jaeger pilot. Herc was never a father to him and he spent more time with machines than he did people. It really affected him.
* Pure Ones in ''WesternAnimation/LegendOfTheGuardiansTheOwlsOfGaHoole''. First off, they take owlets from their nests and train them to fight the Guardians of Ga'Hoole, who are damn near unstoppable. As if the "Pickers" being moonblinked wasn't bad enough, throughout the climatic fight many of them were most likely killed. To top it off, the whole thing is disturbingly similar to the Hitler Youth. [[FridgeHorror And Nyra's name is Aryan with an "a" missing.]] Think about that for a moment.
* Sam Peckinpah's ''Cross of Iron'' features a Russian boy soldier who is captured by the German characters.
** He was later released by the protagonist, to promptly be shot by a passing Russian soldier. Cue [[HeroicBSOD Protagonist BSOD]].
* In the 1959 German movie ''Die Brücke'' (''Film/TheBridge''), a group of seven Hitler Youth tragically try to defend their hometown from American tank troops. All but one get killed.
** Even more tragic, the bridge had no strategic importance, their teacher had them send there in order to keep them away from actual fighting. Additional the bridge was meant to be destroyed anyway to block the Americans entering and taking the town. The bridge gets saved in the end - allowing the American troops to enter the town. More tragic, the story '''was based on an actual event, upon the personal report of a surviving veteran''' who in his own youth experienced a similar situation in World War II.
** The film was remade in 2008 -- and the remake is [[DarkerAndEdgier even morer depressing and sad]] than the original. [[spoiler:In the end the actual bridge, which is still in existnce, is shown.]]
* In ''Film/TheStraightStory'' (Creator/DavidLynch's most logical film yet), one scene has Alvin Straight recounting [[ShellShockedVeteran his experiences]] in WWII, in which he had to kill a bunch of Hitler Youth.
* In USSR there were MANY films about children fighting in the underground resistance during UsefulNotes/WW2, many of them ending being either killed or executed by Germans (''Young Eagle'', ''Zoja'', ''Fifeenth Spring'' etc). Sadly this is TruthInTelevision.
** Heavily subverted in the film ''Till the first blood'' where a war game in summer camp begins to resemble an actual war more and more.
** Probabile the most famous examples are ''Film/IvansChildhood'' and ''Film/ComeAndSee'' with the child soldiers as protagonists. The least funny thing to watch in your average Friday night.
* Another Russian film series ''Film/TheElusiveAvengers'' features four teenagers (3 boys and 1 girl) fighting in the Russian Civil War(1918-1924).
* ''Film/CityOfGod'' prominently features children fighting in drug wars the projects of Rio de Janiero. Children are shown killing each other, dealing and using drugs, [[spoiler:and in one shocking scene, a child is forced to execute one of his friends by the villain.]]
* In ''Film/DoctorZhivago,'' during the Russian Civil War, the Red Army unit in which Zhivago is serving as a medical officer comes under fire from a (presumably White) machine-gun nest in the distance. The Reds shoot all their attackers dead, then approach the nest and find that, while they are wearing some sort of uniform, they are only boys, except for one old man. One Red looks closer at a uniform and says, astonished, "St. Michael's Military School?!" To the dead old man: "You rotten bastard!"
* ''Film/LordOfWar'': West African dictator André Baptiste has a military unit composed entirely of child soldiers which he calls the "Kalashnikov Kids" and his "Boys Brigade".
* In ''Film/MasterAndCommander'' (see also the example from ''Aubrey-Maturin'' novels in the Literature section, below), a 12-year-old midshipman loses an arm to enemy fire in the opening scene of the film. Captain Aubrey is very solicitous of him thereafter, giving him a book with an engraving of the one-armed, one-eyed Admiral Nelson, and leaving him in command of the HMS ''Surprise'' when the other officers board a French vessel; and the boy remains so game an officer that a case could be made for including this under the "Precociously Talented Type". But, still! This is Truth in Television. In fact, most officers of the Royal Navy in that period probably started out as midshipmen in their teens or younger.
* The whole ''Literature/HarryPotter'' series is about kids getting caught up in their elders' war and recruited/forced to fight in it in various capacities. This is an instance of "Precociously Talented Type" and "Just Plain Tragic Type" combined.
* In ''Taps'', cadets at a MilitarySchool find out that the [[AdultsAreUseless useless adults]] are planning to close the school and sell the land to condo developers. With the school's commander in the hospital, they decide that [[SavingTheOrphanage they will not allow this to happen]] and barricade themselves within its walls with weapons from the well-stocked armory. This leads to the inevitable standoff with the national guard.
* In ''The Horse Soldiers'' John Ford plays this for tears and laughs.
* The German film ''Film/{{Stalingrad 1993}}'' has Kolya, a Russian child who is captured by the platoon after attempting to attack them with a grenade.
* The South Korean film ''71:Into The Fire'' is the story of 71 student-soldiers who have to hold a strategic point for 11 hours. Only one has seen combat before, and over the course of the movie [[spoiler:all but 23 die]]. And while it's tragic enough to see the teenage soldiers discover WarIsHell, the film has a brief scene where the protagonists prepare to shoot a North Korean commando and see that he's only 12 years old.
* ComicBook/BlackWidow in ''Film/AvengersAgeOfUltron'' is revealed to having been raised a TykeBomb for the Russian military.
* ''Film/BeastsOfNoNation'' is about child soldiers conscripted to fight in a rebel military force in a war-torn African country.
* In ''Franchise/StarWars: Film/TheForceAwakens'', the First Order conscripts its Stormtroopers from children taken away from their families, training and conditioning them into soldiers until adulthood.
* In ''Film/{{Fury 2014}}'', there's one scene where a trio of Hitler Youth run up to a column of American tanks with a Panzerfaust. One of the characters, Norman, sees them but hesitates to shoot. This results in the kids blasting the tank in front of them to kingdom come, and [[NightmareFuel incinerating the unfortunate crew]]. War Daddy then pops up the hatch, mows the kids down with his rifle and berates Norman for getting the tank crew killed.
-->''"You see that? See what a kid can do? That's your fault! That's your fucking fault! Next German you see with a weapon, you rake the dogshit out of 'em! I don't care if it's a baby with a butter knife in one hand and momma's titty in the other, YOU CHOP HIM UP!!!"''
* ''Film/AndStarringPanchoVillaAsHimself''. The Hollywood producers making a movie that casts General Villa's revolution in a heroic light lambast how his evil Federal opponents don't discriminate in killing children. No mention is made that Villa was conscripting those children into his army and sending them to attack Federal machine guns.
* Subverted with young John Connor, particularly in ''Film/Terminator2JudgmentDay''. While the back story is that Sarah has been raising John in the jungle and teaching him about weapons and military tactics, WordOfGod on the DVD commentary points out that John is never shown firing a gun.

* Discussed in the ''Literature/NightfallSeries''. The Resistance is severely undermanned and everyone is needed in the fight, but their commander refuses to let anyone under sixteen fight. Opinions on this policy vary among Resistance warriors.
* The midshipmen in ''Literature/AubreyMaturin'' books, tragically a case of TruthInTelevision.
* ''Aubrey-Maturin'' is not the only example -- middies in Napoleonic naval fiction are commonly in action. Richard Bolitho destroys a pirate ship at sixteen, while Literature/HoratioHornblower captured a French privateer at seventeen. Lord Ramage took to sea at thirteen. The minimum age in the Royal Navy was twelve for midshipmen, and eighteen for lieutenants. These restrictions were commonly relaxed, especially for members of prominent families. Mitigating this, midshipmen were frequently carried on the ship's books a few years before they were actually carried on the ''ship''. If a boy's father had been in the navy, some sources say that the minimum age was NINE. As well as the Midshipmen, there were also the ship's boys, many of who were born on board ships (possible origin for the term "son of a gun", being born between the guns) and would be used in action as soon as they were able to start running powder and shot from the magazine to the guns. "Topmen" too would usually be closer to boys.
* The ''Literature/HorribleHistories'' book ''The Frightful First World War'' recounts a true story where an underage boy tries to join the British Army by lying about his age, but quickly caves in when he's called out on it by the Recruiting Sergeant. [[IllPretendIDidntHearThat Then the Sergeant tells him to leave, run around the block once, come back and try to be a little more compelling]].
*** In fact, [[CrwoningMomentOfHeartwarming the book was dedicated]] to the youngest recorded British soldier to die in the war, who was fourteen.
** According to the [[AudioPlay/HorribleHistories BBC audio series]], this was a possible reason to why there were so many soldiers that were as young as fourteen.
*** A sketch mocks this by interviewing an angry woman that is working in the factories that are making weapons for the soldiers. She ends her interview by snapping that she will be sending her son to the church to join the army in Europe, and then an astonished voice in the background squeals, "[Your son]'s only nine!"
** In fact, after the young soldiers returned home once the war was over, they either died from Spanish Flu, became homeless, or returned to a house where their family was evicted from.
* In ''Literature/DragonBones'', sixteen-year-old Ciarra is ordered to stay behind while the other members of the group kill some rapist bandits. She doesn't listen, wounds a man in a way that makes him suffer, and has to ask her big brother Ward to mercy-kill the man. She's quite competent in combat, but can't stomach the killing. Her brother Tosten is somewhat older than she is, but not used to killing, either, and is visibly disturbed after his first kill. Ward has killed before, possibly before he turned sixteen, and is a bit worried by the ease with which he can kill.
* ''Literature/HoratioHornblower'': While some of the Child Soldiers in this book series are the heroic Plucky Middie types, some of them die tragically. Similar fate awaits the ships' powder monkeys.
* Cotillion and Shadowthrone's army of orphans in ''Literature/MalazanBookOfTheFallen''. In a show of BlackHumour, the children were rescued from crucifixion and "given" to the two, which was not appreciated due to their preference for acting from the sidelines.
* ''Literature/LesMiserables'' features minor character Gavroche, a street-child who participates in the student uprising, collecting ammunition from the bodies of fallen enemy soldiers [[spoiler:and survives being shot once to throw his bag of bullets over to his friends before falling to another shot]].
* The later ''Literature/HarryPotter'' books see several underage wizards/witches seeing real combat due to various circumstances, namely the rising stakes. The most tragic example is [[spoiler: Colin Creevey]], who is killed in the book 7 finale ([[spoiler:he would have been sixteen or possibly even seventeen at this point, but his small stature would have certainly made him seem younger]]).
* In ''Literature/{{Temeraire}}'', which is as historically accurate as any series featuring dragons can be, shows young midshipmen and other military personnel among Britain's armed forces. Laurence himself ran away from home to join the Navy at twelve, and when he becomes an aviator, several of his crew are around ten, eleven, or twelve. While aviators don't actually go up at ages earlier than that and aren't part of the crew meant to fight until years later, cadets ''start'' training at seven so they're acclimated to the dragons by the time they're ready for duty. This is more presented as childhood being shorter in those days, as well as the British being pressed hard by Napoleon, than anything else. The author also does not shy away from some of these ChildSoldiers being killed, either in battle or through accidents that will occur on military vessels.
* Teenage witch ''Sylvia of Arc'' from Creator/NickPerumov's ''Literature/KeeperOfTheSwords'' series. Was "considered a veteran at the age of ten." She fills both variants (i.e. is both Precociously Talented AND Tragic) of this trope, though, as she is IMMENSELY talented and could take most adult opponents with ease... until she started to run into demigods, that is.
* Even [[Literature/AliceGirlFromTheFuture Alisa Selezneva]], "Girl to whom nothing will happen" from books of Kir Bulychev, was drafted as a soldier once at age 12.
** She (actually the author) also gives an explanation WHY this is common: "If a grown up soldier revolts, he can be hard to deal with. He may very well turn the weapons you give him at you. Kids usually can be controlled by means as simple as threatening to deny them sweets."
* In Creator/DanAbnett's TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}} Literature/HorusHeresy novel ''Legion'', Chayne's BackStory: his planet, fighting the Emperor, had recruited children. Chayne had [[YouAreInCommandNow found himself in charge of his company]] when their leader died. After their defeat, the Lord Commander picked him out, gave him a guardian, and turned him into an elite Imperial soldier.
* Karin Lowachee milks this trope for all the tragedy it's worth. The main character from ''[[WarchildSeries Warchild]]'' is a child soldier, borderline spy and assassin, even. He's not a very happy or well-adjusted young man. But then he's contrasted with his friend Evan, who in addition to being captured and raised by pirates, is alluded to being a child whore in addition to a soldier. The "good guys," [[GrayAndGrayMorality if you can call them that]], use teenagers as cannon fodder.
* In ''Literature/DrownedAmmet'' by Creator/DianaWynneJones, the protagonist is Mitt, a boy whose family is forced off its farm and into the city slums because they can't pay the earl's rising taxes. Then Mitt's father joins a society of revolutionaries and dies, which prompts Mitt to join the society himself, and then he gets the brilliant idea to blow up the earl...
* In ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'', a group of barely teenagers (they were 13 when they started) get drafted into fighting a secret alien invasion by virtue of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Cue the loss of any personal life, killing and nearly getting killed a dozen times a week, being forced to [[DirtyBusiness sacrifice loved ones for the greater good]] and recurring nightmares that last for the rest of their lives. By the end of the war, they're still under-aged (16 to be exact)
* Chris Abani's ''Literature/SongForNight'' takes place in [[WhereTheHellIsSpringfield West Africa]] (presumably Nigeria, given the writer's home country) during a senseless war that forcibly recruits children. Amongst the tragedies, these kids are usually orphans, they get their vocal cords slit to keep them from making noise, they're coerced to rape innocent people by their sadistic leader, and witness their comrades get blown up by proximity mines, which they're trained to defuse. Unsurprisingly, many of them don't last past their teens. The worst part? The aforementioned statements are TruthInTelevision, since the story's based off the author's real life experiences.
* In ''Suicide Kings'' from the ''Literature/WildCards'' series Dr. Nshombo uses child Aces as soldiers. Since they have superpowers this would normally put them in the precocious category, except for how he gets them. He takes normal children in large numbers and exposes them to the wild card virus. This kills most of the people exposed to it. About nine percent suffer extreme but survivable mutations. And about one percent gain superpowers without being mutated, known as Aces. Aces or those with useful mutations are conscripted. The rest, including those who turn out to be [[WhatKindOfLamePowerIsHeartAnyway "deuces"]] are shot.
* The Literature/{{Gone}} series. In book 1, the BigBad has recruited superpowered kids from Coates Academy to fight for him, and TheDragon has an army of ChildSoldiers armed with guns. In books 2 and 3, TheHero has an unofficial army of teenagers with superpowers, and TheLancer is the commander of an army of ChildSoldiers with guns. TheDragon beating a 9-year-old to death while laughing [[EvenEvilHasStandards is enough to disgust even the]] BigBad. Justified because they live in a TeenageWasteland.
* Creator/RobertMuchamore's unpublished book, ''Literature/Home'' (available online [[web.archive.org/web/20100223191732/http://www.muchamore.com/veg.htm here]] ), which features children in a guerilla army; however, they are there purely by accident, and the leader is a pretty decent guy, though no bones are made about his kills and the psychological effects on them.
* There's a short story which details the journey of a group of children on the Children's Crusade. As history tells, it does not end well, which makes their optimism that God will favor their cause once they reach Jerusalem to be rather a TearJerker. Fortunately, the narrator had been a werewolf since birth (he joined the Crusade in the hopes of God freeing him from his curse) and the night they're delivered to Egypt as slaves happens to be just the same night as the full moon...
* Willie, husband of the narrator of ''Literature/OldestLivingConfederateWidowTellsAll'', joined the Confederate army in the UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar at the age of 13. It messed him up--just how horribly is revealed gradually over the course of the book.
* Hans and Gretchen Richter in ''Literature/SixteenThirtyTwo'' were kidnapped from their peaceful family in the UsefulNotes/ThirtyYearsWar, Hans to be a soldier and Gretchen to be a SexSlave. They are forced to do their captors' bidding lest their younger siblings be killed as useless mouths. The amazing thing is that they were able to remain human at all and had any capability of recivilizing themselves when they were freed.
* A young Vlad Tepes in ''Literature/CountAndCountess'' is held hostage by the Ottoman Empire and forced into the Janissaries.
* In ''Literature/WarriorCats'', one of the laws in the warrior code is that kits must be six moons old (the feline equivalent of about age 10) to begin training, and they don't see battle until they're more experienced. This rule stemmed from too many kits being trained at too young an age; it took their mothers refusing to fight in a battle to make the Clan leaders see sense. This law has been broken once during the books: Brokenstar trained [=ShadowClan=] kits to fight when they were barely weaned from their mothers, and as a result many of the Clan's kits died in battle.
* In ''Literature/ChandasWars'' by Allan Stratton, Chanda's siblings are taken by a warlord in an [[{{Bulungi}} unnamed Sub-Saharan African country]] to be soldiers.
* ''Literature/SomeoneElsesWar'' is about a fictitious Muslim boy who joins the (real) Lord's Resistance Army to find and save his little brother from this fate.
* All of the soldier boys from ''Literature/TheDrownedCities''. {{Sociopathic Soldier}}s abound, especially among those who've reached their [[TeensAreMonsters teenage years]] or grown up.
* Arya Stark from ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire''. In ''A Game of Thrones'', she is just a spirited tomboy, meant as a foil to her ladylike sister Sansa. As of ''A Dance with Dragons'', war has killed off most of her family, and hardened her character: hoping to become lethal enough to kill who she views as the men responsible for her close ones' death, she becomes an assassin-in-training for the feared Faceless Men. The fact that she doesn't seem to feel any remorse or guilt while killing just adds to her creepiness.
* The autobiography ''A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier'' by Ishmael Beah is a very [[NightmareFuel chilling]], [[{{Tearjerker}} tragic]] account written by a boy who was removed from the government army of Sierra Leone by a group from UNICEF.
* Literature/SeptimusHeap was raised as one of these for the first ten years of his life, after being stolen from his parents at birth. He was ''intended'' to be raised as a TykeBomb, but ended up in the army instead. Despite moving in with his real parents at the end of the first book, his army experiences never quite leave him.
* The dragonets in the ''Literature/WingsOfFire'' series. They were stolen as eggs, and raised under the ''belief'' that they would be of the "[[TheChosenOne talented and special]]" type, in order to put an end to a continent-wide war, but the dragonets themselves don't agree with their mentors' vision of them. Eventually, they decide to break free and go about saving the world ''their'' way.
* In Creator/SergeyLukyanenko's ''Literature/KnightsOfTheFortyIslands'', a number of children are kidnapped, taken to an unknown archipelago, and scattered over the forty islands, interconnected by bridges. Each island has about a dozen kids who are promised a return home if they manage to conquer all the other islands. Which is impossible, since each island is connected to three others, meaning there is simply not enough manpower to conquer even one other island while trying to protect your own. The kids attempt an alliance with other islands, but it quickly breaks down. Their main weapons are special wooden swords that turn to steel when the wielder feels anger, which only serves to make the kids more prone to anger. At the end of the novel, when the protagonist returns home, he is attacked by a teenage gang, only to easily fight them off with the skills picked up on the islands. He has to force himself to stop before killing some of them, as the instinct is now so ingrained in him.
* ''Literature/BeastsOfNoNation'' is narrated by a child soldier fighting for a rebel force in an unnamed African country. Many of his comrades are underage.
* In ''Literature/TheDinosaurLords'', the horde includes children brainwashed into becoming silent killing machines, sowing terror among heroes' army mainly because of how horrid the whole thing is, rather than because of their effectiveness.
* In Richard Kadrey's ''Metrophage'', most soldiers of the misleadingly-named Committee for Public Safety are teenage boys. Less horrific than some examples in that the boys are recruited from the streets of a dystopian future L.A., meaning most of them were violent killers ''before'' they signed up for the perks of being ''government'' violent killers. ''More'' horrific in that the strength- and growth-enhancing drugs which the Committee issues the still-growing recruits turns them into acromegalic "Meat Boys", and ruins their health by the time they turn 20 if they actually survive combat that long.
* The protagonist of ''The King's Rifle'' by Biyi Bandele, is a West African boy of fourteen who runs off to volunteer for WW2 because his older friends are joining. His friends aren't happy at this, so when he falls ill they use this as an excuse to leave him behind in hospital. Unfortunately he's so persistent he ends up being assigned to the Chindits, who are fighting behind the lines in Burma.
* In ''Literature/TheReader2016'', pirate lord Serakeen is said to be kidnapping young boys from across the land of Kelanna to turn them into these for his army. Sefia is able to free one of them, name him Archer, and rehabilitate him into her companion.
* ''Live Free Or Die'' by John Harris, features a group of French kids in occupied Paris, playing at resistance, as they are just not going to be allowed to join the French Resistance. They have collected real weapons (a piecemeal array of old civilian weapons at best) and decided they are good enough to do it for real... when the time comes to liberate the city, [[CurbStompBattle they are all promptly slain]].
* Averted in ''Blunted Lance'' by Max Hennessy (aka John Harris). The elderly Goff mentions that he always discouraged this trope, because underage recruits lacked the staying power and resistance to disease of more mature soldiers.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/TwentyFour: Redemption'': Sees Jack Bauer rescuing the pupils of school from becoming ChildSoldiers and also features them.
* ''Series/BandOfBrothers'':
** Touches on this a couple times:
** In episode 4, intelligence for Operation Market Garden stated that the German soldiers in the Netherlands were mostly "children and old men". This turned out to be inaccurate and contributed to the failure of the operation.
** Pvt. Jackson, who died by his own grenade in episode 8, was noted to have lied about his age when he joined the army at 16.
** In episode 5, Winters is haunted by the memory of shooting a German soldier who looked no older than 18.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'': Buffy leads the potential slayers into what is essentially a hopeless war in season seven, with many or most of them being under 18. For that matter, though it was more of a lone warrior gig [[spoiler: prior to season seven]] any slayer would probably qualify, since 15-16 seems to be the usual age to be called, and 16 to 17 the usual age to be killed.
* ''Series/{{Farscape}}'': Peacekeeper training starts young. Some recruits are the result of an "assigned birthing to fill the ranks" and others are conscripted from Sebacean colonies. Those born into service never get to know their parents as it is against the rules for parents to make any contact with their children.
* ''Series/{{Firefly}}'': If the SchoolForScheming's [[MindRape plan]] had [[SuperSoldier worked]], River Tam would have become one of these. She was sent to an Alliance-controlled Academy, aged fourteen, for what she and her family thought was a more challenging curriculum than normal high schools. Instead, she got the TrainingFromHell, and it's implied that she isn't the only one to get it, just one of the only ones to actually ''live'' through the process, and there very likely were other kids screwed just as much as she did (only the series couldn't get deep enough for being cancelled). By the time she's rescued from the facility by [[PapaWolf her brother Simon]], she's only seventeen years old.
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'':
** Although not a soldier ''per se'', Arya Stark resembles one more and more as the horrors of war leave her a hardened killer seeking vengeance. She was created in part to represent the trauma and struggle of child soldiers.
** Squires such as Willem and Martyn Lannister are expected to accompany the knights they serve into battle even though they are still boys even by Westerosi standards.
* ''Series/{{Hornblower}}'': In this miniseries adaptation of the books, this trope doesn't appear very prominently, but there are some children aboard ships, both British and their enemies. Series two featured some powder monkeys. In "Loyalty" (series three), there's a memorable gory scene when young Midshipman Jack Hammond freaked out because he got splattered with blood of one little powder boy who got blown up to smithereens with a cannon ball. There are also many characters who fall into the naval type, and those Plucky Middies got explored more and viewers got to know them better. Alas, they made us root for them, [[BreakTheCutie only to let them suffer later]] and then [[KillTheCutie let them die tragically]].
* ''Series/{{JAG}}'': The series finale had one of the officers dealing with a marine who is actually only 16 years who lied about his age signing up. To resolve the situation, the lawyer talks the Marine Corps into making the kid an honorary Marine before he is sent home to his mother with a promise that they would be delighted to recruit him legally when the time is right.
* ''Series/{{Mash}}'':
** Dealt with in several later-season episodes:
** Famously, in "Sometimes You Hear the Bullet":
--->'''[[Creator/RonHoward Wendell]]:''' I'm never gonna forgive you for this! Not for the rest of my life!
--->'''Hawkeye:''' Let's hope it's a long and healthy hate.
*** However, Hawkeye also arranges for him to have Frank Burns' inappropriately bestowed Purple Heart to soften the blow.
* ''Series/{{Revolution}}'': As [[Recap/RevolutionS1E7TheChildrensCrusade episode 7]] reveals, {{Mooks}} employed by the Monroe Militia start out as such, being forcibly conscripted from their homes and families.
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'': In the alternate timeline of "Yesterday's Enterprise", Wesley Crusher is given the full commission of ensign and is assigned to be part of the ''Enterprise'' bridge crew, possibly to show how desperate the Federation is in the history where it is losing to the Klingons.
** In "The High Ground", the Ansata terrorists have children as part of their group to fight off the occupying Rutian forces.
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'': Kira Nerys joined [[LaResistance the Bajoran resistance]] at the age of twelve or thirteen. While she was willing (indeed, eager) to join the fight against the Cardassians who were occupying her planet and her side was generally the "good guys", this show fully exploited WarIsHell and TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized, meaning that much of what she saw and did allows her to qualify as this.
* ''Series/TheWire'': A looser example, but during season 4, Michael (who was only 13 or 14 at time) was forced to become this for Marlo's drug crew. It was the only way for him to escape his worsening circumstances at home. While Michael could handle taking his finances from his junkie mother, the return of his step-father made him feel threatened (and for good reason, if he was really molested by him). By requesting the help of the local gangsters, it gave Michael their protection and housing to get him and his step-brother away from home. ''Series/TheWire'' implies that many young inner-city kids (including Bodie and Wallace) got their start in the drug game through similar circumstances. Even Calvin lampshades this in season 4 when he stated that by 18, kids are too deep into the drug game to be reformed, let alone act civilized to authorities.
* ''Series/FallingSkies'': Since most of the country's military was wiped out in the aliens' initial invasion, most of the fighting now has to be done by the remaining civilians, including young children.
** In particular, there's Jimmy who's only ''13''. He acts as a MoralityPet to Weaver, who treats him both as a child and a soldier, and occasionally laments that he has to be a soldier at all.
** The aliens also use harnessed kids as this, presumably expecting that the humans will be unwilling to shoot a child.
* ''Series/{{The 100}}'': The kids sent down to the Earth are forced to become these to protect themselves from the Grounders [[spoiler:and later from the Mountain Men]]. Child soldiers also seem to be an accepted practice among the Grounders (though their idea of when adulthood begins may be different from ours); Clarke is horrified to learn that one of Grounder warriors her people killed is a young girl, and even more horrified to learn that said young girl already had several kills under her belt.
* The titular character from ''Series/AgentCarter'' discovered the Black Widow Ops program during one of her mission. Her fellow Howling Commando underestimated one of them. [[LittleMissBadass He paid dearly]]. It's disturbing to see girls who barely reached their teen got brainwashed to snapped each other necks and slept with their wrist cupped to their bed and some even continue to blindly serve the program into their adulthood, such as [[spoiler:Dottie Underwood]].

* The song ''Little Weapon'' by LupeFiasco is about child soldiers, but also video games.
* Music/{{Rasputina}}'s "Child Soldier Rebellion".
* Music/{{Nightwish}}'s "Planet Hell" is about the hellish lives child soldiers live.
* Finnish military march ''Sotilaspoika'' (Soldier Boy). The lyrics imply [[MilitaryBrat his father was a child soldier]] too, and [[ValuesDissonance when he makes 15]] he too [[NewMeat will enlist]].
* Creator/BillyConnolly's "Sergeant, Where's Mine?" has the line "Whit dae ye dae wi' a gun in your hand, when ye're facin' a hundred-odd weans?"

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Turns up several times in the ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' universe, particularly in the [[AllThereInTheManual supporting materials]]. The defence of Hive Hellsreach during the Second Battle for Armageddon is one of the more poignant examples.
--> Evacuees will be restricted to those below the age of seven (plus one parent/guardian) and those above the age of ninety. Regrettably, there are not enough places for everyone, so each person eligible for evacuation will be assigned a number. [...] If you are not eligible for evacuation you will be immediately assigned to a hive defence unit - details of where to report will follow this announcement.
* The RPG ''Grey Ranks'' depicts child soldiers (aged 15-17) during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.
* The game "Broken Rooms" has a world called 'The Unvisible' which has been invaded by monsters that are invisible-- and cause severe psychic trauma-- to adults. Only certain adults can see the monsters, so the average age for soldiers is 8-12. Big Science has designed assault weapons with low kickback and painted them in neon colors to appeal to the children, who are trained in combat tactics from the time they can walk.


* The Wole Soyinka play ''Travel Club and Boy Soldier'' is about a military coup in an unspecified third-world nation, and the "Commandant" who's leading the whole thing is, well, the titular boy soldier. He's a teenager when the takeover happens, but he's been in the army for years by that point.
* ''Theatre/LesMiserables'' features Gavroche, who tags along with the student revolutionaries (who are themselves implied in several songs to be at ''most'' in their early 20s) and [[spoiler:manages to take 2 bullets while collecting ammunition for the students before he is fatally shot in the head]].

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/SuikodenII'' is the ur-example of this trope in {{Eastern RPG}}s. The story begins with two friends who, during military training in a youth brigade, are attacked by their own country's forces dressed up as a neighboring nation's units, just to justify going to war with that nation. Many child soliders such as Pohl are even killed (in his case, run through by Luca Blight). [[spoiler:Your childhood friend Nanami even tries on more than one occasion to get the protagonist to abandon the war, saying that they're just kids and they have no place in a war. Agreeing to run away with her leads into one of the most emotional scenes in the game, which is no small feat.]]
* The protagonist of ''VisualNovel/{{Planetarian}}'' is a former child soldier, and has {{Flashback Nightmare}}s about the experience throughout the game.
* In the ''Franchise/MetalGear'' series, this is the BackStory of Frank Jaeger (aka Grey Fox) and [[spoiler:Raiden]]. They may have been expert killers, but they were also massive psychological wrecks too.
** The Beauty & Beast Corps that Snake fights in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4'' are all child soldiers who were horribly traumatized in their childhood. For example, Laughing Octopus was forced to laugh while she killed people, despite the fact that she found it horrifying, and so she cackles like a hyena all through her boss battle. At the end, she confesses, "I'm not really laughing..."
** Big Boss's final plan, outlined in ''VideoGame/MetalGear2SolidSnake'', was to rescue war orphans and train them as soldiers, then feed them onto the battlefield to perpetuate an endless cycle of warfare.
** ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolidVThePhantomPain'' has the player actually battle child soldiers at select points, although killing one will result in an instant GameOver and one very angry Miller. One mission has Snake come face to face with a group of child soldiers he had been contracted to kill, but instead fakes their deaths and takes them back to Mother Base. Only then Snake intends to have them trained as his own soldiers instead. Thankfully Miller and Ocelot are having none of that, with Miller making it clear how largely unable they are to fight before stating that they'll educate the kids and give them a chance to live normal lives.
-->'''Kaz''': We've expanded our housing. They'll have their own quarters. ''Separate'' from ours, '''won't''' be counted as staff.\\
'''Snake''': So what, we're running a daycare now?\\
'''Kaz''': They'll learn how to read and write; do basic jobs.\\
'''Snake''': A chance at a real life... just not from behind a gun.\\
'''Kaz''': Being behind a gun is what we do, Boss. There's no room for angels in our heaven.
** Taken to a new [[NightmareFuel frightening]] level in ''VideoGame/MetalGearRisingRevengeance''. [[spoiler:One of Desperado's long-running plans is the abduction of children in various war zones, installing their brains into artificial casings, and running AI programs ad infinitum to make them into killing machines. The brains are utterly terrified of their state, and one is even seen undulating in terror when Sundowner pulls it out and strokes it.]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Drakengard}}'' features a few missions where the enemy soldiers are child conscripts. Naturally, Caim, being the murderous nutcase that he is, viciously slaughters them all, much to the dismay of his more level-headed comrades.
** [[DysfunctionJunction Particularly the pedophile, though the child-eating cannibal is pretty ecstatic at the fresh food.]] One of your comrades is an eternal child forced to do a lot of killing, including [[spoiler:his own sister]], and who is ultimately forced to make [[spoiler:a HeroicSacrifice that doesn't even kill him, but leaves him stranded alone in a timeless void incapable of even achieving the peace of death]]. It's safe to say Drakengard ''revels'' in this trope, [[GainaxEnding especially when the Abominations show up.]]
** In the game is a mission where most of the foes are the normal faceless adults you've been used to fighting throughout the game, except for a small squad of child conscripts. You can ignore them easily enough, but if you want one of the unlockable weapons during this mission, you have to hunt them down. And since getting all the endings in Drakengard requires every single weapon, you're forced to do this.
* EmotionlessGirl Leona from ''VideoGame/TheKingOfFighters'' started this way, after [[spoiler: [[SelfMadeOrphan killing her own parents]] under Goenitz's MoreThanMindControl]] and being adopted by ColonelBadass Heidern [[spoiler: who had lost his daughter and wife]].
* In ''VideoGame/{{Iji}}'', some of the logbooks imply that the Tasen draft soldiers as soon as they're old enough to hold a rifle. The diary writing Tasen soldier and her girlfriend are among those. This is somewhat justified since [[spoiler:the Komato have hunted the Tasen to the brink of extinction.]] While the titular character's younger brother is, at most, a teenager, he doesn't qualify because he is simply MissionControl.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'' is a {{deconstruction}} of this trope. Despite them being rather quirky, all of the protagonists save one are the members of an elite fighting force trained from the age of 5 who get their childhood memories messed up by the special equipments they use. Early on, it is made quite clear that their inexperience and youthfulness significantly screw up their jobs and lives. [[spoiler: Seifer breaks the commander's order and later betrays everybody out of pure ego; Quistis suddenly feels sorry for yelling at Rinoa and abandon her post; Irvine suddenly becomes doubtful of his sniper skill; Selphie breaks down crying from the destruction of her old school; and Squall, while the most professional, is pretty much a TroubledButCute trope incarnated. There's also Zell, who is easily set off by being insulted and who often has trouble keeping his mouth shut.]]
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyType0'' the PowerCrystal of the Fiefdom of Rubrum only grants the power of magic to the young and as the population ages their skill with magic wanes. The protagonists are teenaged students of a combination WizardingSchool and MilitaryAcademy that is drafted to fight in the war.
* ''VideoGame/SuikodenV'' has [[MurderInc Nether Gate]]; among their many, many atrocities is how they raise children to become career assassins. The player meets several members; some managed to escape its influence and have spent years recovering. Others... haven't.
* In ''VideoGame/BrothersInArms'': Hell's Highway it is implied that [[spoiler:Frankie]] is under 18. He dies.
** Some people did (and still do!) lie about their age in order to join the military.
* ''VideoGame/FireEmblem'' games usually play this for drama. The younger members often have some tragic backstory that forces them into war. A few examples: Amelia, Ross, and Franz from ''VideoGame/FireEmblemTheSacredStones'' all have a MissingMom. The latter two suffering from varying degrees of DisappearedDad. Amelia's mom was kidnapped by bandits, [[FridgeHorror whatever that may lead to]] [[spoiler:Though, if you support Amelia with Duessel, we learn that her mom got better]]. Ross's mom got sick and died, and his father, who had left them to join the army, retired to raise his son. Franz's mother got sick and died as well, his father, a knight, died fighting bandits. We also have Colm and Neimi. Neimi was raised by her grandfather, and when he died, Colm was the only other person she had. Naturally, those two are the fastest support in the game, usually able to get to A level by the 8th chapter.
* ''[[VideoGame/FirstEncounterAssaultRecon F.E.A.R.]]'' has [[PsychicPowers psychic commmando]] Paxton Fettel, as well as the player character, the Point Man. Though grown by the events of the game, both were trained from birth. Fettel in particular killed people when he was only ten, [[spoiler: though not in combat, and it wasn't entirely his fault...]]
** The psychological and emotional ramifications are explored in third game. Essentially, they're both scared children running from something far more powerful than them and either becoming obsessed with that (or similar) power or lashing out mindlessly in fear.
** The Point Man was entered into stasis at around 16, and taken out and trained when he was physically in his late 20s. It's hinted (but never made clear) that he [[FridgeHorror might still be a child mentally]].
* ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'': You can talk to a [[RetiredBadass Retired NCR Ranger]] with a broken leg in Novac. If you ask him why his leg is broken, he'll say that it was because the Legion sent children as suicide bombers against him and his squad, knowing they'd hesitate to shoot.
** If you go to the Legion fort, you can find little boys training to be full-on Legionnaires. It's horrifically implied that those children are expected to enter combat very soon, what with the battle against the NCR over Hoover Dam on the horizon. What's worse, in the NCR, troopers can sign up to join the active military at 16 - Chief Hanlon says that any Legionnaire who survives 10 years is considered an exceptional veteran, as many, ''[[WeHaveReserves many]]'' die long before then. [[FridgeHorror That means that]] many of the lower-ranking Legionnaires you gun down in droves [[TeensAreMonsters probably aren't very old at all]].
* In ''[[VideoGame/DissidiaFinalFantasy Dissidia Final Fantasy 012: Duodecim]]'', [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII Vaan]], [[MythologyGag possibly in reference to the orphaned friends he had in his own youth in the slums of Rabanastre]], views the fact that the young [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyIII Onion Knight]] is also part of the Conflict of the Gods as being a tragedy (despite the fact that the latter is very capable of holding his own, to the point that everyone else on the team ignores his age and sees him as a worthy peer), and so ends up inadvertently patronising him for his youth. Onion Knight desperately wishes that Vaan would treat him as someone worthy of respect, until he realizes that it ''is'' Vaan's way of doing just that: Vaan never tries to stop him from fighting, after all.
* Subtly implied to be the case if Shepard has the Colonist Background in ''Franchise/MassEffect''. We are never given the details precisely of ''how'' they survived the Batarian raid on Mindoir on their 16th birthday, which wiped out their entire family. Judging from other first-hand descriptions, the raid is implied to have been a bloodbath, meaning that it's very likely that Shepard had to pick up a weapon and do a ''lot'' of [[TookALevelInBadass growing up that day.]]
** Turians are said to have a life cycle similar to humans' but are also known to conscript ''every'' able-bodied young person into the military at only fifteen years of age. The psychological ramifications of subjecting teenagers to military life and warfare en masse are left unexplored (but maybe that explains [[HurtingHero Garrus]] and [[JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope Saren]]). Though it is worth noting that not only does outright warfare happen rarely and that the Turians work more like a militarized police for most of the galaxy, its mentioned that Turians are militarized on such a cultural level that prior to their unification the populations of captured cities were moved out of the city itself and into camps because otherwise there would be such rebellion that the city would be effectively burned down by the populace. Conscription of teens who are probably raised to think of it as a rite of passage into the space police is a little different than most child soldiers.
* Since Celes Cher from ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'' has the rank of general at age of 18, it is safe to say that this trope applies to her.
* Some Angolan child soldiers appear during the first level of ''CallOfDutyBlackOpsII'', being trained by Cubans to fight in the civil war against the American-allied UNITA. Mercifully, they only appear in cutscenes and you don't fight them.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Cloud's mom, Ye Thuza, from ''Webcomic/SandraAndWoo'' was a Burmese rebel when she was only 16. While it hasn't been explored in much detail yet, it's certainly demonstrated a touch more seriously than the overall tone of the comic, [[DontExplainTheJoke apart from being half of a punchline in which Ye Thuza remarks she's "always been a rebel" while comparing her life as an American housewife to her years in Burma]].
* ''Webcomic/RubysWorld'' uses this as the base of the conflict; the villains regularly use third world children as material for their cybernetic super-soldiers, and several of the young heroes have this blood-stained technology in their bodies.
* In ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'', after a monster attacked Susan in Paris, two Immortals empowered her and Nanase, and instructed how to kill it. Later, in the Hammerchlorians storyline, it was revealed that these Immortals could have very easily gone to an experienced local magic-user instead. Susan... didn't take it well.
* In ''[[Webcomic/KatushaGirlSoldierOfTheGreatPatrioticWar Katusha, Girl Soldier of the Great Patriotic War]],'' the title character is a 16-year old Ukrainian girl in Kiev and has just graduated high school in 1941 when [[WorldWarII/WarInEuropeAndAfrica Germany launches Operation Barbarossa]]. After the Germans roll through Kiev, she ends up joining a band of partisans, along with her classmate Zhenya (also 16), her foster sister Milla (age uncertain), and her younger brother Vadim (age 15). Within a few months, all of them become quite handy with weapons and adept at killing. [[spoiler: By 1945, Katusha is serving in the Soviet Army, commanding a T-34 tank]].

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In [[http://akaichounokoe.deviantart.com/art/Madgie-what-did-you-do-XIX-Mercenary-321179030 Madgie, what did you? XIX]], the children aren't given much of a choice in whether or not they want to but it is put that they have to fight. That, and their guardians, the ones that lead them, have would't put them up to it if they didn't have to.
* While Podcast/WelcomeToNightVale's Tamika Flynn is also justifiably listed under the 'ridiculously talented' heading, she and her fellow soldiers also come under 'tragic' in [[spoiler: episode 46, "Parade Day", where they rebel against Strexcorp but get exactly no help from the adults, leading to them all being captured.]]
* In ''Literature/BraveNewWorldUniverse''the fact that the Chosen, many of whom are young teens, were picked by strange forces to fight a war they don't understand hasn't really been brought up yet.
** In the side story Ride The Whirlwind, the main character Ricki, and her former boyfriend Al, who are both fifteen years old, are working with a group that defends the Chosen against any threat frequently using murder to get their way. Ricki has had a [[spoiler:mental breakdown trying to get another character to kill her in a fight]]. Al has begun self harm, scraping his tongue until it bleeds trying to get the taste of other peoples blood out of his mouth.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'': Aang--the only character who knows what it is to live in a time of peace (other than Bumi, who is at this point over a 100 years old)--is the last survivor of a genocide. Then you have [[WellIntentionedExtremist Jet]], Sokka (who is put in charge of the defence of a village ''and'' an invasion), ''Zuko'' (the poster child for emotionally/physically scarred ChildSoldiers), Katara (her childhood ended at ''nine'')... One of the main villains is a ''fourteen year old girl'' [[spoiler:who ends up having a VillainousBreakdown]]. It's even lampshaded a few times.
-->'''Katara:''' I haven't done this since I was a kid!\\
'''Aang:''' You are a kid!\\
'''Zuko:''' You're just a child!\\
'''Aang:''' Well, you're just a teenager.
** In SequelSeries ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'', it's revealed—at almost the last possible moment—that [[spoiler:ColdSniper [[PlayingWithFire firebender]] [[DarkActionGirl villainess]] [[HavingABlast P'Li]]]] got her {{start|OfDarkness}} as a warlord's child assassin. [[spoiler:[[AlasPoorVillain Poor]] [[StatuesqueStunner big]] [[TragicVillain evil wounded bitch]].]]
* ''WesternAnimation/BackToTheFuture'' had a story where Doc Brown's son Verne go to the UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar and find themselves recruited as a Confederate Army drummer boy. As he is being trained by another boy, Jimmy, he is told that they are positioned in the front lines in the line of fire:
-->'''Jules''': But we're just kids!\\
'''Jimmy''': ''[Bleakly]'' War makes you go up fast.
* In ''WesternAnimation/StarWarsRebels'', the Empire has a training program that recruits teenagers to be trained into new Stormtroopers, and subjected to a harsh training regiment. The dark part however is that the trainers report any recruits who are suspected as force sensitive to the Inquisitors, and what ever happens to them is unknown.
* In the [[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS5E25TheCutieRemarkPart1 season 5]] [[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS5E26TheCutieRemarkPart2 finale]] of ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'', [[DarkerAndEdgier of all shows]], the Crystal Empire BadFuture has foals being recruited for the war against Sombra.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Munro}}'' is a satirical animated short about a four-year-old boy who receives a draft notice and gets inducted into the U.S. Army, much to his distress.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* A disturbing number of conflicts in RealLife have drawn children into them. Worse, it still happens, especially with the more renegade military forces of the world. Even by historical standards children who should have been considered far too young for service have throughout history been forced into real combat situations.
* The NGO War Child estimates that there are 250,000 child soldiers in the world today.
* The CIA world factbook's "Manpower fit for military service" starts at age 16. International Law requires that conscription can't start until age 18[[note]]This isn't a case of ValuesDissonance, but rather an accurate estimation by the CIA: in a civil war or other conflict, international law isn't carefully adhered to. The CIA is estimating the amount of ''capable'' fighters that would be available in a war of desperation, not how many fighters would ''legally'' be available[[/note]].
* Almost invariably the fate of the [[BlueBlood sons of the nobility]] in the MiddleAges. ''To train a knight, start with a boy of 7. If you start after 12, he will be fit only for a priest''. Most knights and sergeants (non-noble men-at-arms) started combat duty as valets in the age of 13. This is a case of ValuesDissonance, as 13 ''was'' considered to be "adulthood" in regards to responsibilities given to people in the medieval period and before.
* [[LaResistance Resistance movements]] often feature child soldiers, given that the adults fit for military service have for the most part been killed, captured, or otherwise neutralized by the invading army. During the Armenian Genocide the ''Armenian Boy Scouts'' ''as an organization'' saw signficant combat action (although they were officially utilized in support roles such as hospital staff). Polish scouts and other children fought in all three major battles of Warsaw during WWII.
* At least a third of the Union Army in the American Civil War (as many as a million troops) were seventeen or younger. Boys as young as thirteen fought in combat (especially under the Confederacy), as opposed to drummer boys who were technically noncombatants.
* The Virginia Military Institute corps of cadets, some no older than fourteen, fought at the Battle of New Market in 1864. Of 264 present, ten were killed and 42 wounded.
* In the days of black powder and line infantry, drummer boys, many only 11 years old, some younger, stood in the front rank, armed only with their musical instruments as the men around them fought.
** The 'musics' who survived the battle also doubled as stretcher-bearers, carrying the wounded to the filthy and disease-ridden field hospitals, where [[MeatgrinderSurgery amputation and cauterization]] ''[[MeatgrinderSurgery without anesthesia]]'' were often the only treatment available to the wounded. Although not normally a combat role, it was most certainly a traumatic one.
** In those same days there were also powder monkeys, boys of the same age who transported gun powder on ships.
** The British Army ended the practice of sending pre-pubescent boys into battle after the slaughter of Isandlwana when the boys were not only killed but their bodies desecrated - like those of their elder comrades in arms.
* The Germans recruited young boys as "Flak-Helfer" during the second World War, assistant AA crews, who didn´t see much combat and if they did it consisted of shooting at specs in the sky. They alternated between going to school and helping with AA guns until they were 18, at which point they could join the ranks. Being properly trained in etiquette, ranks and all the other boring stuff, they usually made for very fine soldiers during training, had high morale and little reason to object to orders.
** And then there was the Volkssturm...every male who could hold a rifle was drafted. Regardless of age.
*** There was [[GallowsHumor an ironic nickname]] for the Volkssturm: "Gulash". Because it consisted of old meat and fresh vegetables...
** The last photos of Adolf Hitler show him awarding Iron Crosses to child soldiers in the ruins of Berlin.
*** Speaking of Nazis, the SS Hitlerjugend were formed of teens from the Hitler Youth recruited into the SS directly. They were trained viciously, turning these darker boy scout equivalents into hardened, TheDreaded killers. They were the only units in 1944 described as both "[[BloodKnight voluntary]]" and "[[TeensAreMonsters enthusiastic]]".
* The Italian ''Ragazzi del '99'' ("boys of 1899") that fought in UsefulNotes/WorldWarI: after the devastating defeat at Caporetto, the Italian army restored its numerical superiority by drafting the boys born in 1899, that at the time (1917-1918) were seventeen years old. This is openly acknowledged as a desperation move, and these child soldiers are still honoured by having streets, squares, parks and (allegedly) [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking the 99 Flake ice cream]] named after them.
** The ''Ragazzi del '99'' and the other Italian soldiers first drafted during UsefulNotes/WorldWarI are an example of the Italian commander-in-chief Luigi Cadorna trying to correct the inadequate equipment of the Italian Army with a combination of [[WeHaveReserves superior numbers]] and training: the boys were drafted months before their eighteenth birthday, but spent the time between the draft and their eighteenth birthday training in the new trench warfare, reaching the front with superior skills than the new drafts of the Austro-Hungarian Army. After Caporetto, however, every soldier had to be sent to the frontline, resulting in the almost three hundred thousands already trained to be sent to the front in haste while the rest of them was drafted.
* UsefulNotes/ImperialRussia had the cantonists, who were the children of the soldiers; in 1827, Nicholas 1st decided Jews and other minorities should be subjected to draft, starting to 12, [[AssimilationAcademy so as to make them good Russian Orthodoxs]]; they would be sent in cantonists' batallions, where they would be subjected to brutal training and forced conversion until their 18, when their 25 years term of service would begin.
* Janissaries were drafted from Christian children by the UsefulNotes/OttomanEmpire.
* The subject of ''A Long Way Gone: Memoirs Of A Boy Soldier'', by Ishmael Beah. Beah was forced to join a military war at the age of 13, after his village was destroyed during the civil war in Sierra Leone.
* 'Black Jack' Jean Schramme, a mercenary active in the Congo wars of TheSixties, believed the best age for a soldier was thirteen to fifteen, because they obeyed orders more readily. Whenever he wanted more 'recruits', he just pulled up his truck at a local school and invited the children for a joyride.