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Innocent Prodigy
A young, but incredibly bright child whose high intellect comes with rather large doses of naivete. He seems incredibly deep at times, but he has moments where his innocence reminds the audience (and the other characters) that he's still a child.

Truth in Television, since real-life prodigies typically have emotional maturity better fitting their actual age than their intellectual level.

Compare Child Prodigy, Adorably Precocious Child. See also Ping Pong Naďveté.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Ten-year-old high-schooler Chiyo from Azumanga Daioh always keeps acing test after test while failing miserably to understand mature stuff any teenage schoolgirl would already know by heart. The epitome of this may be her understanding nothing of Nyamo's (to everyone else) extraordinarily-uncomfortably-detailed drunken sex-ed lesson.
  • Negi of Mahou Sensei Negima!. He's beginning to grow out of the naivete though. For example, when he gets his hands on a Time Machine, his immediate thought is a desire to go see dinosaurs, and he's crestfallen when told the Time Machine doesn't have that kind of range.
  • Shinra Sakaki from C.M.B. , So Touma form Q.E.D.. Hell, Motohirou Katou loves this trope.
  • Hiiragi from Hanamaru Kindergarten is very intelligent and knowledgeable for her age but still enjoys children's activities such as going down slides, and playing dress-up.
  • While whether Hiroki Sawada of Detective Conan: Phantom of Baker Street wanted to reset Japan is debatable, the ten-year-old MIT graduate does want to play with the other kids.
  • Rebecca Miyamoto from Pani Poni Dash! is an MIT graduate and a teacher at age ten. Doesn't stop her from throwing tantrums or hiding behind things whenever she gets scared or upset.
  • Alice from ARIA, though her more childish moments are quite few and far between.
  • Diamond from Pokémon Special. He likes to eat and watch robot anime (singing its theme tune in an attempt to bolster his confidence when he's scared), but he is shown to be very thoughtful and sensitive at times- he's associated with Mesprit, the legendary Pokemon of emotion, and delivers heartfelt speeches that convince legendaries to fight alongside him.
  • Edward Elric and, to a lesser extent, his little brother Alphonse USED to be this in Fullmetal Alchemist, before all of the Break the Cutie kicks in.
  • Sister Maria from Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai shot her way through the education system and ended up as a high school teacher at 10 year old. Also, she ended up as an insufferable, foul-mouthed Bratty Half-Pint...until she met Yozora.
  • The Professor from Nichijou is a completely normal eight-year-old girl...except that she can make highly advanced robots. One robot, Nano, basically acts as a parental figure to her, and the Professor likes to install strange functions in her like a rocket-powered arm or a bean cannon just because she thinks it's funny. She also refuses to remove the wind-up key in Nano's back (which Nano resents, since what she wants most is to pass as a human being), since she thinks it's cute.
  • Makise Kurisu from Steins;Gate was one when she was younger, not seeing that her efforts to impress her father were just alienating the two of them.
  • Bokuden from Sengoku Collection is a master swordsman and master of her own dojo. She's also a little girl who wants to spend time playing with her friends.
    • Episode 23 gives us Tsunehisa Amago, a tactical and strategic genius at age four. She uses this genius to take over her day care's sandbox so she can create the biggest sand castle ever.
  • Nico Robin of One Piece used to be one of these. She earned a Ph.D. in Archaeology at age 7. However, the innocence turned to PTSD when the World Government destroyed her home.

    Fan Works 

    Literature 
  • Charles Wallace Murray from A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels is truly a prodigy both in intellect and in wisdom. He doesn't seem to be quite as naive as most examples of this trope, however.
  • Discworld has a rodent version. Dangerous Beans is brilliant but by most of the other character's standards rather naive. However, the book clearly sympathizes with his idealistic views.
  • Elantris: Daorn and Kaise have elements of this. Brandon Sanderson says this snuck in as a mild criticism of Orson Scott Card's depictions of hyper-intelligent children in Enders Game.
  • Temeraire is a dragon who manages to be this.
  • Mark Clifton's "Star Bright" has Star Holmes and Robert Howell, ultra-intelligent toddlers who invent a way to teleport themselves through time. They use this ability to play hide and seek. Star's father also tells us that Star's intelligence doesn't prevent her from enjoying dolls, fairytales and playing grownup.
  • Similar, yet twisted around slightly, by the Archive, Ivy, in The Dresden Files, as a young girl with all the written knowledge of history in her head. She writes her official notes in crayon, and while waiting to mediate a dispute between supernatural evil and fairies, wanders off to watch the otters play at the aquarium.
  • Tel from Of Fear and Faith isn't a child but fits the rest of the description, being incredibly sweet and innocent, while also being very perceptive and intelligent, especially where people are concerned.

     Live Action TV  
  • Micah Sanders from Heroes. The audience first sees him fixing his laptop as he tells his mom, "The memory board's bad," and he can talk to machines. Yet Micah reads comic books religiously and uses them as a guide, making him something of a miniature Ascended Fanboy.
  • Shane at the start of Weeds shows aspects of this but has already lost a lot of innocence (part of the Back Story is that his 40-year-old father died of a heart attack right in front of him) and grows out of the last of it over the course of the first couple seasons.
  • Lex from Flight 29 Down.
  • LOST: The young Benjamin Linus who was definitely extremely intelligent and introspective and possessed the prerequisite dash of naivete, but very quickly lost his innocence due to his chronic abuse at the hands of his father, which eventually culminated to his seeking out the Others and starting him down his path of Affable Evilness and Magnificent Bastarddom.
  • Jill Petterson in the Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode "The Tale of the Final Wish" qualifies, with her superstitions and obsessions with fairy tales, as opposed to the other kids her age. Until her wishes come true in a bad way.
  • Franklin from My Wife and Kids. He is a genius, outsmarting pretty much the entire cast. But at the "where do babies come from" department, he still believes that pregnancy comes from plant seeds. Justified, since he was purposefully left out of Sex Ed classes.
  • The titular kid in Smart Guy was smart enough to be in high school as a nine-year-old, but can't sit through two minutes of sex-ed class without bursting out into uncontrollable laughter.
  • Henry from Once Upon a Time. He's a growing Guile Hero with more than a few doses of Genre Savvy and Good Is Not Dumb, but he talks about super secret information at the local diner just because he's hungry and believes that fairy tales are real. He's right, of course, but his eagerness and willingness to believe in them definitely shows off his age of 10.
  • Malcolm in Malcolm in the Middle. It takes a long time for anyone to even notice how smart he is due to the trouble-prone, slacker behaviors his family upbringing instilled in him. Also, he couldn't care less about his intelligence, and is far more preoccupied with being frustrated and worried about the ostracism and bullying that afflicts kids who stand out from the pack.
  • Played for laughs with Pitt the Younger in Blackadder the Third, who's elected Prime Minister right in the middle of his exams. On the one hand he's a capable politician and matches Blackadder's political scheming with his own. On the other he's still going through puberty, writes angsty poetry, and uses childish insults. And then taken to hilarious extremes when his brother Pitt the Even Younger runs for office.

     Newspaper Comics  
  • Peanuts: Linus Van Pelt, Charlie Brown's best friend. He has great insight into some situations and a very high intellect such as being able to precisely quote any passage of Biblical scripture, but he also believed in the Great Pumpkin, which brought him ridicule despite his intelligence. And he hates to be separated from his beloved blue blanket.
    • As an infant it was even worse. As Charlie Brown struggled to balance one card on top of two others to start a house of cards, Linus used the rest of the cards to make a Gothic cathedral.
  • Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes waxes philosophical about the nature of the universe...to his stuffed tiger. While pretending to be a space cadet. Or a superhero. Or a jungle explorer. Or a private eye. Or a dinosaur. Lampshaded by Calvin's mother in a punchline, "How can one kid be so smart and yet so dumb at the same time?"
  • Mafalda's greatest concerns are: the terrible ordeal of the starving kids in Biafra, the permanent tensions between USA and the Soviet Union, the armed conflicts in the Third World, and Mom's terribly hideous soup.
  • Sheldon from Us Acres has shades of this.

     Video Games 
  • Miles "Tails" Prower of Sonic the Hedgehog fame. Most depictions stick solely with one extreme or the other for the most part (eg. Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic Sat AM Tails are extremely childlike and not to bright while the games and Sonic X counterparts is arguably the most sensible and soundly intelligent member of the team), but he is a rather valid example of this trope in Sonic The Hedgehog The Movie, as well as in recent games in which his childish traits start to show again.
  • Vivi from Final Fantasy IX.
    • Eiko, aged six, meanwhile, has been living on her own as Team Mom to a bunch of moogles. While she's clearly an incredible child (not to mention her white magic), she's very naive, due to her age and lack of interaction with adults.
  • Merrill from Dragon Age II. Though thoroughly educated and knowledgeable about magic, she's often extraordinarily naive about other things, especially social conventions.

     Web Comics 

     Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons: Lisa Simpson, while Wise Beyond Her Years and one of the few Springfield citizens who isn't stupid, incompetent or just plain lazy, loves her Malibu Stacy doll more than anything else (except, perhaps, activism) and likes immature cartoons like "The Itchy and Scratchy Show." She also wants a pony and indulges in juvenile crushes on boys named Cory who are featured in Non-Threatening Boys Magazine. On some occasions she'll happily join Bart's destructive antics (indoors bike jousting? Sure!).
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: Edd is depicted as a genius whose maturity makes him the Only Sane Man. Yet the nature of some of the show's more risque jokes often completely escapes him.
  • Time Squad: Otto is a child who has a fairly complete and detailed knowledge of all of history. He's also the Only Sane Man who often has to be on his own to solve a problem that a grown adult cop couldn't handle. And yet plays with action figures and colors in coloring books and the sexual tension between Larry and Tuddrussel goes right over his head.
  • The title characters from Phineas and Ferb, both of whom are creative and technical geniuses, but use their talents more for their own amusement than anything else. They also manage to regularly figure out the solutions to other characters' problems, while still maintaining an oddly childlike sense of naivete.
    • At least Once an Episode, somebody will ask Phineas if he and Ferb are too young to be doing whatever they're doing. Phineas always responds: "Yes, yes we are."
  • Stewie from Family Guy is the Evil Counterpart to this trope. He's a Wicked Cultured Evil Genius despite being barely a toddler and often almost as naive as you'd expect a child his age to be.
    "Huh, this toy contains small parts. But why would they include small parts in a toy for someone my age...? Unless I'm supposed to eat them! Of course, it all adds up!"
  • Froggo from Histeria spends time providing the occasional historic narration and poetry reading when he isn't busy having lunch, playing video games, or working on his inventions.
  • Arguably Dib from Invader Zim. Usually a Straight Man spouting Cassandra Truths, there are nevertheless times when he shows a childlike optimism, especially around adults who seem to treat him nicely (such as Dwicky and, at times, his father).
  • Ike Brovlovsky from South Park has had a relationship with a teacher and was involved in a Government Conspiracy to elect Barack Obama. And yet, he's still in kindergarten and confuses Milan for a Disney film.
  • Kit Cloudkicker of TaleSpin a lot of times shows immense knowledge of flying and sometimes displays a lot more common sense than adult peers such as Baloo. However, he often displays a rather bratty overconfidence, and will not accept that he is still too young to actually fly himself.
  • Amberley of The Dreamstone has moments of this Depending on the Writer, she is mature enough to hold a stable job and manages to keep her head out the clouds a lot more than Rufus and even the Dream Maker at times, but has a very childish temper which sometimes leads her to go headfirst into dangerous situations.
  • Dexter of Dexter's Laboratory sometimes has elements of this. In one episode he sees a repair-man working on the house's electrical system, and after some failed attempts to find out what he's up to using technology, Dexter's Plan C turns out to be to run off to "mommy" and ask her who's the strange man messing around with the fuse box.


Innocent InnuendoTropes Of InnocenceInnocent Swearing
Innocent InaccurateYoungstersInvasion of the Baby Snatchers

alternative title(s): The Linus
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