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[[quoteright:350:[[Film/CityOfGod http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/1_cog.png]]]]

Having to kill another human being is traumatic enough. But when a child has to do it, either in defense of themselves, in defense of another, or being forced at gunpoint or swordpoint themselves to do it, the effect can be all the more horrifying. The fact that even children are forced to hand out violence to defend themselves adds to the [[SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism cynicism]] of a setting. Children having to kill on a regular basis is a red flag for a CrapsackWorld.

The reasons for a child having to kill vary. They may have been attacked by someone and struck out in defense: they just happened to have the right thing on hand. Equally, they may manage to get the drop on someone who is trying to murder a parent or other carer. As mentioned before, they may be forced to do it, either as some form of TrainingFromHell or just from a complete sadist. This will be made all the more tragic if it was someone close to the character: a friend, relative or, worst of all, [[SelfMadeOrphan their own parent or even parents.]] If this is in a characters past, it will be a [[DarkAndTroubledPast dark and troubled one.]]

Can lead to an even more warped form of BloodSplatteredInnocents. Often the cause of a DarkAndTroubledPast. ChildSoldiers must do this as a matter of course. KidHero stories with a particularly dark tone may also have this as normality for the setting, especially if that setting is a TeenageWasteland. {{Tyke Bomb}}s can become this if said Tyke bomb is forced to kill before it can [[DefusingTheTykeBomb be defused.]]

Of course, this goes along with ChildSoldiers.

Note: Children who kill when they don't have to aren't this: that's some form of EnfantTerrible.


[[folder: Anime and Manga]]
* ''LightNovel/BlackBullet'': Several cursed children are often forced to be ChildSoldiers for criminal gangs, governments, and Civil Security Companies. In particular, [[NiceGirl Tina]] [[FriendlySniper Sprout]] was forced to be an assassin sniper by [[BigBad Ayn Rand]] to kill [[BigGood Seitenshi]], but has also shown [[ReluctantWarrior hesitation on killing people]].
* ''Manga/BlackLagoon'': The Vampire Twins started out as this when they were forced to kill other children in paedophilic [[SnuffFilm Snuff Films]]. At some point they [[BreakTheCutie broke]] [[AxCrazy and began to like it]].
* Happens in various ''Franchise/{{Gundam}}'' franchises where the protagonists are young enough and the universe serious enough. Although combat is generally personified by mechas, the protagonists generally never forget that there is a person inside the war machine that is so easy to objectify, and spend time angsting over it.
** In ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundam00 Gundam 00]]'' the protagonist was brainwashed as a young child into becoming a member of a terrorist organisation. Part of the initiation involved killing his own parents.
* ''Manga/GunslingerGirl'' is all about this. The oldest girl is 16 and the youngest can't be older than 12, but they're all government assassins.
* ''Anime/{{Madlax}}'' has this as part of the BackStory: [[spoiler:the plot stems from the fact that Margaret had to kill her BrainwashedAndCrazy father Richard in self-defense when she was 5 years old, and to protect herself from going mad, her mind created the titular Madlax]].
* Killua from ''Manga/HunterXHunter'' is an example. Being a member of a BigScrewedUpFamily of assassins, he's taught to kill from infancy, and forced into the life of an assassin without being given much of any choice in the matter. He was murdering people before he turned 6, and by the time he appears in the show - at an age of maybe 10 or 11 - he's already killed hundreds of people.
* In ''Manga/DGrayMan'', the average age for an Exorcist seems to be late teens. Allen's fifteenish when things start, Lenalee's about the same but has been working as one since childhood, Lavi's eighteen, and Kanda [[spoiler:has been an Exorcist since the day he was born due to certain experiments performed by the Order.]]
* This is the whole premise of ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'', basically. Regular shinobi become genin at 12 and are expected to live the rest of their lives in the field infiltrating, guarding, fighting, and killing in an endless cycle of hatred and violence. For extreme examples we have shinobi like [[ChildProdigy Itachi]], [[UpToEleven who was exposed to war at four and made his first kill at seven]].
* ''Manga/ElfenLied'': The Diclonius are all young girls. The iconic bloody first episode shows Lucy kill scores of men, and she's only 18. Several other Diclonii are forced to deal lethal attacks to each other throughout the series.
* ''Anime/NowAndThenHereAndThere'': Children are kidnapped from their home villages and forced to fight for the monstrously insane King Hamdo.
* ''Manga/{{Trigun}}'' has this as [[spoiler: Wolfwood's]] backstory. At a young age he kills [[spoiler:his abusive guardian who happens to be his uncle]] and soon gets adopted by an assassin, who teaches him the Bible, and how to kill.
* ''Manga/{{Berserk}}'': Both Casca and Guts had to kill people in self-defense at a very young age as part of the {{backstory}}. In Guts' case, arguably twice; one was maybe more of a revenge thing, but given both that he was a kid and [[RapeAsDrama what the revenge was for]], it could arguably still count as this.
* ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'' has its MagicalGirl killing, not purifying, the MonsterOfTheWeek or losing their power [[spoiler:before finally dying and turning into the very monsters they fought]]. There's no way around it the moment they made their contract. They also forced to fight and, implied in ''Manga/PuellaMagiKazumiMagica'', to kill their rivals in turf wars or be killed themselves.
* Several characters in ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'' feature this within their back story.
** Mikasa was kidnapped by a gang of slavers, and was forced to help Eren kill them in self-defense. She's never the same.
** [[spoiler:Annie, Reiner, and Bertolt]] are the TykeBomb variant. [[spoiler:Their mission required them to commit acts of mass murder]], and all are shown to have suffered varying levels of trauma as a result. [[spoiler:Reiner states they didn't even understand what they were doing at the time, and being allowed to go home is the one thing all three focus on to keep them going]].
* Poor, poor [[Anime/IlSolePenetraLeIllusioni Akari Taiyou]]. She is a GenkiGirl who just wants [[WeHelpTheHelpless to be like her mom]], and certainly [[LegacyCharacter has powers to do it.]] It's just too bad that, for her, [[TheNeedsOfTheMany to help others]] means [[MurderIsTheBestSolution killing]] the MonsterOfTheWeek, which are possessed humans. [[spoiler:Her first kill is [[KillTheOnesYouLove her dear friend and cousin]] whom she lived with ever since the death of her mother.]]
* ''Manga/SchoolLive'' takes place in a ZombieApocalypse with [[TeenageWasteland no adults]] so this is obligatory. Zombies aren't technically alive in the first place however they act similarly enough.:
** Kurumi was forced to kill her [[KillTheOnesYouLove crush]] by [[ShovelStrike sticking a shovel through his throat]], which understandably ended in her [[BloodSplatteredInnocents soaked in blood]]. After that she is the main ActionGirl of the series who kills zombies of all [[UndeadChildren ages]] and [[RaisingTheSteaks species]]. [[spoiler:She was unable to kill her former teacher and survivor, Megu-nee, which led her to become infected. She was saved by a MagicAntidote but multiple signs point to either it not working 100% or that the effects slowly reversing.]]
** Yuki is the most [[KiddieKid immature]] of the teens and [[ThroughTheEyesOfMadness doesn't even know about the zombies]] due to being in a hallucinatory state. She was forced to kill a zombie in the manga (in the anime she simply tried, and failed, to hit one) when [[spoiler:she encounters it while cleaning up a classroom all alone. She attacks it with a mop and promptly starts to FreakOut.]] This event is a major point in her CharacterDevelopment where she begins to act more reliable.
* The heroines of ''Manga/MagicKnightRayearth'' are all tender 14 years old girls who got thrown to a fantasy world of sword and sorcery where they find themselves attacked by monsters while attempting to save that world's princess. They mostly have to just kill monsters, never people, except the one who sent the monsters, the princess' kidnapper Zagato, and also the guy who threw the world to chaos... [[spoiler:or so they thought. Turns out, the princess summoned the girls to ''kill her'' because she fell in love with her kidnapper and because of this and a contract she made to forbid her to think of nothing but the world, the world ends up in turmoil and she can't kill herself. Needless to say, when the girls returned home, they were severely traumatized.]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Cassandra Cain, the third ComicBook/{{Batgirl|2000}}, was trained to be this when she was younger. Subverted in that, after her first kill, she panicked and ran off, vowing never to take another life.
* In ''ComicBook/TheWalkingDead'', [[spoiler:Carl's shooting saves the lives of both his parents within a day of each other.]]
-->''"It's not the same as killing the dead ones…"''
* Grimjack as a child was arrested for stealing and was sentenced to take part in gladiatorial games.
-->''"Before I was nine, I killed my first man. Before I was sixteen, most of the kids I entered into the Wolfpac with were dead. Some I'd killed myself."''

[[folder:Fan Fic]]
* In ''[[Fanfic/ChildOfTheStorm Ghosts of the Past]]'', the Red Son is just a teenager and is forced to kill everyone in the Red Room's way by his programming. Given additional punch by the reveal that he's [[spoiler: Harry. Or to be more specific, he's Harry's body after his mind was removed to protect and the MacGuffin it was contained in was swiped by the Red Room.]]
* In the ''Manga/DeathNote'' {{Dark|Fic}} KidFic ''FanFic/ShadowOfTheValley'' [[VillainProtagonist Light]] forces his 12-year old daughter [[OriginalCharacter Hikari]] [[SerialKillerKiller to follow in his footsteps]].
* Some of the stuff that happened during the Grazton arc of FanFic/TheTaintedGrimoire was at least partly because Cid and Ensei wanted to avoid this trope. [[spoiler: They now accept that given their circumstances, they can't avoid it and the younger members of Clan Gully will be ready for it should they have to kill someone]].
* As a ''Literature/TheHungerGames'' fanfiction, it's a foregone conclusion that this trope is at play in ''Fanfic/SomeSemblanceOfMeaning''. However, that doesn't mean that all of the tributes have to like it.
* A major plot point of ''Fanfic/TheSevenHunters''.
* Part of [[spoiler:Rose's]] background in the Series/DoctorWho Alternate Universe fic [[http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=57612 Duplicity]]

* ''Film/CityOfGod'' has an infamous example in which a ganglord forces one small child to kill his even younger friend after they steal from him.
* Likewise in ''Film/SinNombre'' a gang leader forces a boy to kill a rival gang member held prisoner to be accepted into their gang. Said dead rival is then cut into pieces and fed to dogs.
* ''Film/TheQuickAndTheDead'' had [[spoiler:The Lady, as a young girl, attempt to [[ShootTheRope shoot a hanging rope in two to save her father]], but she missed the rope and hit him [[PrettyLittleHeadshots square in the forehead]] instead.]] Not forced to kill her father, but forced to take an action that took her father's life.
* ''Film/FullMetalJacket'': [[spoiler:the Vietcong sniper, who turns out to be a teenage girl]].
* ''Film/BloodDiamond'' has [[ChildSoldiers an army of children]] forced to kill during the Sierra Leone Civil War.
* ''Film/TheHungerGames'': Yet another horrifying aspect of the Hunger Games. Perfectly ordinary children are forced in a situation where, if they do not kill others, they themselves will die (excepting the Career Tributes).
* ''Film/FridayThe13thTheFinalChapter'' has a climax where [[spoiler:Tommy Jarvis, a 12-year-old kid, kills Jason in self-defense]].

* In ''Literature/DragonBones'', Ward's father was abusive, and taking young Ward with him while hunting down bandits might have been one of his nicer traits. Ward knows how to kill when he's nineteen, and as he has been ObfuscatingStupidity since he was twelve, one can draw some conclusions ... it is not mentioned whether his father stopped taking him along when it seem like Ward had brain damage from being beaten, but it is pretty clear he started this early.
* ''Literature/EndersGame'' is the epitome of ChildrenForcedToKill. All of the characters are prepubescent or slightly older ChildSoldiers being trained to kill an invading alien force.
* Some beasts pulled into the fighting in the ''Literature/{{Redwall}}'' novels were quite young (as young as preteens - [[ImprobableAge or younger]]). Some of whose reactions were understandable, [[CreepyChild while others]] [[NotAGame were not]].
* Creator/{{Saki}}'s "The Easter Egg".
* Robert Muchamore's "Home" in which the protagonist is a very young guerilla soldier. After doing it he is nicknamed "Psycho".
** Another Muchamore series has the protagonist (This time a very young super spy) shoot someone and require counseling afterward.
* The whole plot of ''Literature/TheHungerGames'' books is that there's an annual event in which one boy and one girl aged 12–18 from each of the twelve districts surrounding the Capitol are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle to the death until one winner remains.
* The premise of ''Literature/BattleRoyale'' is that a group of 64-ish students are taken to an island and [[InvoluntaryBattleToTheDeath forced to kill]] each other until [[ThereCanOnlyBeOne only one survives]]. Adding to the "forced" aspect is the fact that they're wearing explosive collars and if no one dies for twenty four hours, the guys in charge will kill everyone...
* ''Literature/TheTomorrowSeries'': Ellie and her friends didn't set out originally to be guerrillas...
* In the ''[[Literature/{{Dragonlance}} Dark Disciple Trilogy]]'' this is the most terrible facet of the Children of Chemosh. This otherwise NighInvulnerable version of TheUndead created by Chemosh can only be destroyed if a child strikes them. The destruction of the creature is so horrifying that it also traumatizes the child and robs them of their youthful innocence forever.
* In ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'', nine-year old Arya Stark has to do this more than once when she's thrust into a wartorn countryside. She moves from simple self-defense to pre-meditated murder, and eventually [[spoiler: becomes the apprentice of a guild of assassins]].
* Every one of the ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' at one time or another.
* ''Literature/SeptimusHeap'': In ''Queste'', [[spoiler:Septimus and Jenna are forced to throw the [=InHabited=] Toll-Man into the Abyss to escape from the [[OurZombiesAreDifferent Thing]] that is controlling his body.]]
* Done with downright creepy frequency and [[AngstwhatAngst casualness]] in ''Literature/TheChroniclesOfNarnia''. In one incident, Aslan even keeps away the adult soldiers when Susan is threatened by wolves, so that Susan's brother Peter, a mere child, can prove himself capable of fighting the wolves. The fact that this could have gotten Susan killed is never discussed, nor is the morality of turning Peter into a soldier.
* Gregor from ''Literature/TheUnderlandChronicles'' has latent warrior skills that makes him skilled at assassination. In fact, [[spoiler:if he finds himself near death, he involuntarily goes berserk and kills anything in fit of rage.]]
* Horseshoes from ''Literature/SecretAgentsFour'' wrangles with himself after he's forced to kill a guard. [[spoiler: It all turns out to be a misunderstanding, and he ends up learning he didn't actually kill the guard.]]
* Alindar from ''Literature/TheRedVixenAdventures'' was taken in by pirates after her family was murdered by them. By age eight she was a [[ChildSoldiers child soldier]] being forced to hunt down other children aboard the ships they attacked.
* In the first ''Literature/WingsOfFire'' book, the adolescent Tsunami is forced to kill her opponent in a [[InvoluntaryBattleToTheDeath life or death duel]]. Tsunami tries to convince Queen Scarlet to let them both go after her opponent is unable to battle, but Scarlet won't let that happen.
* [[ChildMage Coin]] of ''Discworld/{{Sourcery}}'' is forced to kill some of the wizards (and ForcedToWatch) by the ghost of his [[AbusiveParents father]] Ipslore.
--> ''"I don't like killing people. I'm sure it can't be right."''

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* The ''Series/TwentyFour'' MadeForTVMovie ''Redemption'' included some children being trained to kill by the followers of an African general.
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'':
** This happens to Arya Stark, starting in "The Pointy End" once she flees the castle and takes to the streets of King's Landing.
** Like his older sister, Bran Stark has racked up a body count during his travel, including a couple of Wildlings and Locke. Right now, he's responsible for five deaths.
* On ''Series/{{Lost}}'', Sayid got his start in murder by covering for his brother when forced to kill a chicken. Eko did the same thing, but with a person.
* In ''Series/CriminalMinds'' episode "North Mammon" an [=UnSub=] kidnaps three girls and imprisons them in his basement cellar, he will let two of them go if they kill one of them.
** The guy in "Psychodrama" tried to force young boys to kill, or otherwise just attack, their mothers under threat of death.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'': It turns out that a young [[spoiler: Bobby Singer]] killed his abusive father while he was threatening his mother. Hunters in general too -- many of them start off being trained by their parents while still quite young. Krissy Chambers kills her first demon at 14.
* The reason the fourth episode of ''Series/{{Hannibal}}'' was yanked from broadcast was because the killer of the week brainwashed children into killing their families. Bryan Fuller felt that it was TooSoon after certain events.
* To a lesser extent in ''Series/KidNation''. The children end up having to kill chickens to feed themselves.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In the [[AfterTheEnd world]] of ''VideoGame/TheLastOfUs'', 14 year old [[{{Deuteragonist}} Ellie]] is forced kill not only [[TechnicallyLivingZombie Infected Humans]] but other humans too in self-defense. The Resort level particular has Ellie taking on an entire town of bandits by herself and killing their leader at the end.
* Can happen in ''VideoGame/TheWalkingDead''. For example, Clementine can have to [[spoiler: shoot The Stranger to save Lee if he fails to protect himself]], or even [[spoiler: shoot an infected Lee before he turns - if he tells her she has to do it.]]
* Referenced by Lucil in ''[[VideoGame/FinalFantasyX2 Final Fantasy X-2]]'' in which she mentions her hope of a new age "in which children will never have to lift a sword."
* {{Defied|Trope}} in ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsX''. The first time [[Anime/MashinHeroWataruSeries Wataru]] takes out a Mobile Suit, he realizes that they are piloted by humans; however, Ryujinmaru assures him that every manned unit that he's fighting has an EjectionSeat and that nobody actually dies.
* One of the ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'' comics had The Spy taught a kid to stab [[BadSanta Old Nick]] in the neck. And yet it's [[Heartwarming/TeamFortress2 heartwarming]].
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfTheAbyss'' has this when you take into account [[spoiler: [[TheHero Luke]] [[YoungerThanTheyLook is actually seven]] which makes his entire freak out and inability to adjust to having to kill humans both more understandable and more horrifying.]] [[GoldDigger Anise]] is thirteen and a [[ChurchMilitant fon master guardian]] but doesn't seem to suffer in this regard.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Example from, of all places, ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive''. Well, depending on your definition of 'child', but [[spoiler:Susan and Nanase]] probably weren't much more than 12 when, during a class-trip to France, they wind up being targeted by a [[OurVampiresAreDifferent Somewhat Different Vampire]]. He's not technically human, but he LOOKS human - mostly - and while [[spoiler:Nanase]] does most of the fighting, it's [[spoiler: Susan]] who ends up having to kill him - with an axe, even. Unsurprisingly, she was traumatized, and the recent arc that featured the flashback culminated in an Immortal decrying the irresponsibility of the two french Immortals who originally equipped [[spoiler: Nanase and Susan]] for the battle, while giving them no apparent alternative save dying at the hands of the vampire. Apparently, they could have simply informed the French Government's anti-supernatural-creature-squad instead, but elected to drag two pre-teens into a battle in order to 'recruit them for the fight against evil'.
* This is standard in the setting of ''Webcomic/{{Drowtales}}'', where children as young as 10 are expected to be able to defend themselves if need be, and the straightest example is when Ariel, who at the time is the equivalent of a 7 year old human child, [[http://www.drowtales.com/mainarchive.php?sid=4501 is forced to choose]] between killing Mir'kiin, an asshole who had tried to kill her, and fighting her cousin to the death. She chooses to kill Mir'kiin, and it's heavily implied this leaves her with PTSD.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* ''WebOriginal/SurvivalOfTheFittest'': Even if you don't count the teenagers (who are usually 15-19) being forced to kill each other, there have been a few younger characters on the show as well, such as 12-year olds who did fit this.
* The subject matter of [[http://akaichounokoe.deviantart.com/gallery/?q=mercenary#/d5b7zbq Madgie, what did you do? XIX:Mercenary]] and, as the description put it, no one is exempt from fighting, even the youngest must fight, as in if they can hold a weapon and know what it is, they can fight.
** One a side note, it's also been pointed out that Bunny was surprised that Doki (the one leading this group) was affectionate and maternal towards them and that they mean a lot to her, thus if she didn't have to, she wouldn't be putting them up to it but she has no choice and they have no choice either, as per the lines:
--->"In whatever war that is going on, I was surprised that Doki was very affectionate with them and it occurred to me that, due to what was going on, she didn't want to put them up to killing as so to defend their turf or themselves but it was not like she could take them anywhere else or hide them for very long. As it seemed in the case of Violetta, who was minus a leg, they would have to be damaged in sort of way if they were to be out of duty. Doki's affection towards them proved what no one thought, it proved that they were not expendable weapons and, that to her, they were precious and that, if she didn't have to, she wouldn't be making them do what they are doing."
* Parodied by ''Website/{{Cracked}}'', in [[http://www.cracked.com/blog/an-apology-to-town-that-i-turned-into-the-hunger-games/ an article]] consisting of a man apologizing to his neighbors for kidnapping their children and holding a ''Hunger Games''-inspired event. [[ComedicSociopathy He still thinks it was friggin' awesome, though.]]
* One of the matches in ''WebAnimation/DeathBattle'' was [[Franchise/SuperMarioBros Luigi]] vs [[Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog Tails]]. Since these are battles to the death, KidHero Tails would need to kill Luigi in order to win. [[spoiler:In the end, he does]].
** Another one was [[Manga/{{Naruto}} Gaara]] vs [[WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender Toph Beifong]], wherein the latter is only 12 years old. [[spoiler:Like Tails, she does kill Gaara]].

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' is set in a world at war, and since the protagonists are children, it's only natural that this trope gets discussed. The protagonists face lethal confrontations with soldiers left and right (though only Sokka is unquestionably forced to kill because of it), and at one point we see a group of displaced children who are willing to kill ''innocent civilians'' for revenge against the Fire Nation.
** Aang, only 12 years old, absolutely hates this. He believes all life is sacred, and he is horrified at the thought of having to kill Fire Lord Ozai. After allowing the Ocean Spirit to possess him and sink an entire Fire Navy fleet during the Siege of the North, he has nightmares about losing control and killing people while in the Avatar State.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'', a clip from ''The Rusty Venture Show'' shows a young Rusty traumatically having to shoot a bad guy to save his father. Just one of the [[DysfunctionJunction many little events]] that screwed up Rusty.
** He also briefly mentions being forced to kill a man using a house key at age ten. Played for pitch-black laughs.