"Just barely out of school, came from the edge of town
Fought like a switchblade so no one could take him down
He had no money, no, no good at home
He walked the streets a soldier and he fought the world alone"
The formal adjective definition of the word "delinquent" describes something or someone who fails in their duty. This sums up its more popular usage quite nicely; a delinquent is someone (generally a young person) who fails in their "duty to society" by being anti-social. They won't be plotting to take over the world or rob banks and they're more likely to be an Asshole Victim
of The Aggressive Drug Dealer
than an example. They are, however, likely to refuse to turn up to school (or are disruptive
if they do), harass people in the street, shoplift
and drink or smoke
(possibly even both!
If the protagonist encounters them, they're probably going to either be bullied by them, or fall in with them. In the later case they'll serve as Poisonous Friends
who use peer pressure
to encourage the protagonist to join them in their misdeeds (naturally this "friendship" will be short lived, as the protagonist will be caught the moment they try it
and subsequantly be abandoned by them at best or made their scapegoat
at worst). Alternatively, the trope can be played more lightly, with a delinquent acting as a sort of Token Evil Teammate
, or as an outright Anti-Hero
Delinquents have come in many types in different times and places, but the stereotype tends to attach itself to whatever scary new subculture the kids have come up with recently: greasers in 1950s
US, mods and rockers in 1960s
Britain, punks everywhere since the 1970s
This trope can overlap with Spoiled Brat
or Lower-Class Lout
(depending on who their parents happen to be). Expect them to act as mooks
or be the "hat" of a Gang of Hats
. For the leather-clad delinquents of The Fifties
and The Sixties
, see Greaser Delinquents
For tropes and stereotypes about delinquents in Japan, see Japanese Delinquents
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Anime and Manga
- Cromartie High School has an entire cast of delinquents (and a robot delinquent...and a gorilla...and Freddie Mercury), though they mostly spend their time talking about who they think is the toughest, rather than proving it by having a brawl. If you haven't guessed it yet, this is one great big parody of delinquent manga.
- Kouji Kabuto from Mazinger Z skipped school and used rough language.
- Tatsumi Oga is such a violent delinquent that the son of Satan himself chooses him to be his guardian. Naturally, the people he associates with are delinquents as well.
- Hell, the school he attends, Ishiyama High, is repeatedly stated to have a delinquency rate of 120%. Everyone there is a delinquent, it's a No Teacher School ruled by the pseudo-Absurdly Powerful Student Council known as the Tohoshinki, with Oga himself being the technical Student Council President, as he defeated all four of them.
- The student council in Yankee-kun to Megane-chan consists of four legendary badass delinquents and one guy who'd easily pass as one.
- England from Axis Powers Hetalia was said to be quite the delinquent as a teen, something which he fervently denies due to his current status as a (self-proclaimed) gentleman. This is also touched in Gakuen Hetalia where in England's official bio it mentions how he had been given such a reputation in the past.
- Harlem Beat: Kiriko, Kosuke, Sawamura love to smoke, gamble and skip school. And then there's the Kyan team.
- Crows and it's sequel Worst center around a gang of delinquents of Suzuran High.
- Airs Blue from Infinite Ryvius, a gang leader who gets his hands on the only gun on the Ryvius.
- Sailor Moon: Sailor Jupiter (aka Makoto Kino)]] has this reputation at her school, because she is so tall that she couldn't get a uniform in her size, and because she's the new kid. She's not actually a delinquent, though, just has the reputation. In actuality, she was not expelled from another school for fighting, but left voluntarily because she couldn't deal with seeing her ex after a bad breakup. According to Word of God she was supposed to be an actual delinquent (a leader of a girl-gang, specifically), but the creator changed her mind about that.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has had delinquent protagonists of both the Japanese and Western mold - Joseph, Jotaro (even though he chose to stay there), and Jolyne have even done jail time.
- John Bender from The Breakfast Club, though he's actually a pretty nice guy when you get to know him.
- The vampire gang in The Lost Boys.
- The East Side Kids series from the 1930s & 40s, switching between the main characters and the supporting players.
- Cars featured a quartet of troublemaking young cars composing of a purple and gray car with rocket boosters as their leader, a green and white car with oversized spoilers, a blue van with speakers all over his body, and an orange drag racer with an oversized engine.
- Deconstructed with Rebel Without a Cause, in which the teens act the way they do because they lack competent guidance from adults. In fact, the main character of the film, Jim, wants to be a good person, except society - including his own parents - is keeping him form being so.
- Carmen in The Color of Money was this before the movie begins. She first met Vincent after she got arrested for driving the getaway car while her (former) boyfriend was robbing his parents' house.
- The teenage leads of Lords Of Dogtown are this: growing up too wild in Venice Beach, California, "the ghetto by the sea", skipping school to surf in the early morning and joy-riding behind buses on their skateboards.
- iCarly: Sam has been arrested more than once, asks Freddie to hide her backpack when a cop shows up at Carly's apartment, was seen shaking down some kid in the pilot, solves most of her problems with violence, is generally the first (and only) member of the main threesome to suggest criminal action... you get the idea.
- Northern Exposure: Chris in the Morning was car thief and a con in his youth.
- Happy Days: Fonzie is a semi-reformed delinquent.
- That '70s Show: Hyde is a lifelong delinquent even after he becomes the manager of his own record store.
- Kamen Rider Fourze has an interesting subversion: Gentarou dresses up like one, but he's the most likable guy out there!
- A group is seen in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 short What About Juvenile Delinquency
- Two companions in Doctor Who:
- Dorothy "Ace" McShane, an Eighties delinquent who travelled with the Seventh Doctor.
- Courtney Woods, a New Tens delinquent who travelled with the Twelfth Doctor. Inkeeping with the show's general anti-establishment vibe, both Courtney and Ace are portrayed positively.
- Open Heart has Dylan and the group was with before her arrest and community service. Dylan still retains some of the delinquent traits, as they help her sneak around the hospital while she's sleuthing.
- In the Supernatural episode "The Things We Left Behind" (S10, E09), Claire is in a solitary cell in a juvenile center after running away. Later we see that she is shoplifting and mixed up with a dangerous man, Randy.
- The video for Aerosmith's "Livin' On The Edge" depicts several of these.
- The two feuding gangs, the Polish-American Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks, in West Side Story. Each gang even gets a song about it; the Jets have "Gee Officer Krupke," where they mock how every adult offers up different explanations for "delinquent" behavior without actually doing anything about it, while the Sharks have "I Like It Here In America," where the men of the Sharks protest to their girlfriends how xenophobic New York is.
- Basically everyone in Grease, even if they are singing the whole time.
- Jonny Warner of Zombie Prom is treated as a delinquent. He has a motorcycle, but the most rebellious thing he does is spell his name without the customary "h".
- "Three Juvenile Delinquents" from Noel Coward's Ace of Clubs.
- Alex of The Colour Tuesday, mostly due to no one taking her Synesthesia seriously as a kid, and authority figures generally putting her down even for reasonable things. In reality, she's less an actual delinquent and more the Only Sane Girl in a world where the adults are morons. As it turns out, having the adults be pawns of the Others doesn't help matters. Alex's status as a rebel is a sign of her destiny to break the control of the Others.
- The Mooks of the school level in No More Heroes.
- Riki and Kunio (Ryan and Alex) from the Kunio-kun (River City Ransom) series, including Super Dodgeball. Also about everyone else. Well, except the shop keepers, waiters, children, the old man at the sauna, Roxy, and Ryan. But still!
- Kyo Kusanagi from King of Fighters is a mild example, he gets into fights, skips school almost constantly, ignores/neglects his girlfriend and seems to enjoy brawling random people.
- Daigo Kazama, Eiji "Edge" Yamada and Gan Isurugi from Rival Schools. Of course, the school they attend is nothing but deliquents.
- In the sequel Project Justice, they're joined by female delinquent Aoi "Zaki" Himezaki and her all-female gang, the Ladies Team. The two gangs even face off against each other in the game's story mode, as illustrated above.
- Akira, from the near-future chapter of Live A Live, is the very image of a delinquent. He even slouches.
- Masamune Date and his men from Sengoku Basara. Think Sengoku Era biker gang.
- Inverted in Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice. The term is used to describe demons who attend the school that do... "odd" things. Donating blood, picking up trash, attending classes, and even doing homework. Honor Students are the real delinquents; they skip class, cause fights, and so on. Of course this still fits the formal description of the term, as most of the students are aspiring Card Carrying Villains and the school is supposed to train them to be "evil".
- The protagonist Mao is considered the top honor student because he has never attended a single day of school yet. He is deeply ashamed of that one time his rival forced him to perform "delinquent acts" of cleaning up and donating blood.
- G-Bankaran in The Second Super Robot Wars Original Generation is a Humongous Mecha shaped like a stereotypical delinquent, piloted by an actual stereotypical delinquent.
- The Bloody Fists in Survival of the Fittest version two start out this way, but eventually turn into a full fledged criminal gang. Alexander Stevens, leader of the Hellbirds, also qualifies, though he tends to avoid making trouble in the schools themselves.
- Arthur: the "Tough Customers" gang is a kid-friendly group of delinquents.
- The "Bad Kids" from Recess, usually consisting of Kurst the Worst (who really doesn't take pride in her mean acts), Mundy, Skeens, Sue Bob Murphy, and Lazy Kid.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The teenage dragons Spike meets in Dragon Quest are delinquents, and a fairly nasty bunch too.
- Terry, the new Batman from Batman Beyond, is a former delinquent. This trait is downplayed, however, as it's not brought up until Terry's character arc has been established, so that it doesn't take over his characterization.