The Kid with the Remote Control

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"Wow, my own giant robot! I am now the luckiest kid in America!
This must be the biggest discovery since, I don't know, television or something!"
Hogarth, The Iron Giant.

A child — usually a young boy — who has sole control over some fearsome creature or robot and uses it wisely, despite advice from all the well-meaning but fundamentally clueless adults around him.

Sometimes the remote control is literal — as in the watch used in Giant Robo by Johnny Sokko/Daisaku Kusama to transmit orders to Giant Robo. Sometimes it is figurative or metaphorical, in the sense that the mecha or creature considers the child its sole master and obeys only him. Helping said creatures or raising them from birth are reliable ways to recruit the free-willed variants.

It can sometimes be difficult to tell whether the kid is his partner's sidekick or vice versa (especially if the partner is capable of human speech), but if they are main characters one is probably the Deuteragonist and the other the Protagonist. The trope originated in dawn-time Anime and Manga and is still strongest in those genres.

If the partner is an Anti-Hero or even Token Evil Teammate this trope becomes the Kid with the Leash

See also Guardian Entity.

Examples

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     Anime and Manga  

  • Gigantor: Shotaro Kaneda/Jimmy Sparks has Iron Man #28/Tetsujin 28 (What the show is named in Japan), aka Gigantor. The opening theme mentions the remote:
    "Good or bad depends on the remote control" "Don't give the precious remote control to the enemy!"
  • Giant Robo: Features Daisaku Kusama/Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot (GR-1 or the titular Giant Robo).
  • Mazinger: Several times it is hinted the titular Humongous Mecha of the series only answer to a specific pilot or can only be properly controled by him or her.
  • Raideen: Raideen is both a Physical God, Empathic Weapon and Humongous Mecha. Only The Chosen One Akira hibiki can control it, since Raideen shall not accept another pilot.
  • Steel Angel Kurumi is a good example of the "metaphorical" remote control. For the most part Kurumi is a free-willed individual, but loves and obeys Nakahito, whom she regards as her absolute and permanent master.
  • Most mon shows, including Pokémon, Mega Man NT Warrior, etc.
  • Pretty much the point of tamers/Chosen Children in the Digimon franchise. This is noticeably less so in the Digimon Adventure canon, where the kids mostly functioned as spotters, strategisers and moral support during combat and couldn't actually do anything. Digimon Tamers gave the tamers more to do by introducing the concept of using cards from the Digimon CCG to power up their monsters; later on, the main tamers actually merged with their digimon to achieve their final forms. Digimon Savers sort of fell back in line with Adventure with none of the DATS agents really able to do much (save for Masaru tending to actively fight himself), and the Digimon Xros Wars canon, which places the partnered children in the role of army generals, had them actively command and merge their Digimon in a manner falling more in line with this trope; Digimon Frontier, of course, didn't have to deal with this at all as a result of its lack of partners.
  • In Utawarerumono Aruruu raises a tiger-like dragon/god-cub to giant proportions and later rides on it into battle.
  • Magic Knight Rayearth: Ascot is so small he took to standing on a floating rock, is a master Summoner who can easily call forth creatures that can go toe-to-toe with Machine gods.
  • The Kirby anime has a variant — since Kirby is incredibly powerful but has the mind of a toddler, Fumu frequently has to tell him when to inhale, and she is also the only one who can summon the Warp Star for Kirby to use. However, once he copies an ability, Kirby seems to become much more competent and rarely needs direction from that point onwards.
  • Hellsing has Alucard, a powerful vampire whose powers blur the line between nosferatu and Eldritch Abomination. Thankfully, he is undyingly loyal and unfailingly obedient to Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing, the last living descendent of Van Hellsing, who employs him as a vampire exterminator.
  • Neo Ranga's title monster is controlled by a trio of sisters, each with their own unique views on how to control him. This results in much confusion, though there are hints that Ranga doesn't just do what they tell it, but in fact has its own, more primal views on the world.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple: Nijima has an almost magical ability to summon Siegfried whenever he needs backup.
  • Zettai Muteki Raijin-Oh: The titular robot is piloted and monitored by a class of fifth-graders.
  • Medabots, with almost everyone (except the main character, early on) having 2-foot mecha armed to the teeth, voice commands transferred through a Watch.
  • Heroman has Joey Jones, the series itself is pretty much Stan Lee's take on shows like Giant Robo and this trope in general.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: the Toei anime has Haiyama, who manipulates Kujirada into doing what he wants.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: The titular Evangelions have wills of their own and, despite NERV's safeguards, it's ultimately the teenage pilots who can control them since their mother's souls are trapped inside them. Or at least the mothers of Shinji and Asuka. Unit 01, particularly, refuses to activate when Shinji isn't in the cockpit.
  • RahXephon: Ayato is the only one who can control the titular Physical God. And said Physical God has Reality Warper powers to the point the series finale sees Ayato unmaking Earth with it in favor of one where everyone lives Happily Ever After.
    • To a further extent, Haruka could be considered the one with the remote control. While she's an adult, she's technically of the same age as Ayato. However, Ayato is repeatedly implied to be one of the human aspects of the RahXephon which is at least centuries old and if his UST with Haruka goes bad, the next Dolem usually dies very painfully at the RahXephon's hands.
  • Huit in Queen's Blade Rebellion. She is the owner of the only existing Automaton in the world, an alchemy-powered device named Vingt, who is, fittingly, a beautiful robot woman.
  • Nichijou spoofs this with the Professor and Nano, the former of whom has a remote control that activates different functions on Nano's body, such as opening her arm to reveal a roll cake or firing off her hand to go fetch another remote.
  • Hayate from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's has absolute power over the Wolkenritter, but she never exercises this power since she views them as her family rather than her servants. She does give them orders in StrikerS and Force, but at that point they're all members of the TSAB and she's their commanding officer.
  • Panzer World Galient: Twelve-year-old Jordy Volder is the only one capable of piloting Galient.
  • Sgt. Frog: Mero in the second movie.

     Comic Books  
  • Juston Seyfert from The Marvel series Sentinel, which intentionally based off the Gigantor/Giant Robo style. He's now back in Avengers Academy.
    • Tom Skylark from the "Here Comes Tomorrow" arc of "New X-Men" is a grown-up version of this. He appears to be modeled after Juston.
  • Gert (and later Chase) from Runaways. She has a telepathic link to a genetically engineered deinonychus from the 87th century called "Old Lace".
  • General Jumbo: Jumbo was the eponymous hero of a long-running story appearing intermittently in The Beano, in command of a sizeable army (and occasionally navy and air force) built by his friend Professor Carter. A low-achieving hero by modern standards, he mainly foiled minor nuisances and petty criminals, but since even this entailed independently controlling dozens of models using a wrist controller with only a few buttons, it would be churlish to deride his efforts.
    • His Viz spoof counterpart had an army of Jehovah's Witnesses. They foiled un-christian activities and then handed out leaflets.
  • The heroine of Gearz, after receiving a coterie of robot bodyguards due to a postal error. As a Genre Savvy pop culture junkie, she specifically compares herself to Johnny Sokko (Daisaku Kusama's name in the English version of the live-action Giant Robo show called Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot.)
  • Jason from the short-lived Oni press series "Jason & The Argobots."
  • Johnny Thunder and his successor Jakeem Thunder, both from the Justice Society of America each controlled an omnipotent genie who's only limit was that he used his power exactly the way he was told.
  • The Incredible Hulk: For one or two issues of the original 1963 run Rick Jones became mentally connected to the Hulk, who would mindlessly do Rick's bidding. But when Rick was asleep the Hulk could do what he wanted, so he just left.

    Fan Works 
  • A Crown of Stars: Shinji and Asuka could control their giant robots when they were kids because their mothers were locked inside them. After Third Impact they were aware of it, but since their Evas were destroyed or stranded in space that knowledge came too late to be useful. However they were the only people could synch with the MP-Evas, so that the dictators ruling the post-apocalyptic ravaged world kept them alive because they had an use for both mind-broken teenagers.
  • Advice and Trust: After finding out about each other's past Shinji and Asuka often argue it can not be a coincidence that the only people capable to pilot an Evangelion are mind-broken orphan kids whose mothers died while testing the Evas. After Hikari gets selected as pilot their doubts increase and finally they figure out the truth: they can control their robots because their mothers are stuck inside.
  • The Child of Love: In the final chapter Shinji learns why he and Asuka are the only ones can control their giant robots despite of being only kids –and him having no previous training-: their mothers’ souls got stuck inside them.
  • Children of an Elder God: Only Shinji, Asuka, Rei and few other children can pilot an Evangelion. Other candidates are driven to madness when they try. This is because the Children are protected by their mothers' souls inside the robots.
  • Doing It Right This Time: In the original timeline neither Shinji nor Asuka really knew why they were chosen as Evangelion pilots. Now they and Rei know it is because their “giant robot moms”; and thanks to that they can synchronize better with their Units.
  • HERZ: All Evangelions were piloted by children because only they could synch with the souls stored inside.
    • After the battle of 2015 Asuka discovered she could pilot Unit 02 because her mother was inside… and she had become unable to synch with it because she could not open up due to her mental trauma increasing during the Angel War.
    • When SEELE attacked in 2027 Rei was able to control the new MP-Evas because their dummy plugs were an extension from her.
  • Higher Learning: Evangelions can only be piloted by kids can synch with the souls trapped inside the robots. Shinji, Asuka and Touji could synch with their Evas because their mother's souls were inside, although neither of them found out during the War. Rei could -barely- activate Unit 00 because a piece of her soul was inside it. Kaoru is a strange case because he could pilot Unit 04, despite of being unrelated to the soul within.
  • Last Child of Krypton: Evangelions can only be controlled by children because the pilot needs being somehow connected to the soul within the robot. That is because Rei has such a hard time riding Unit 00 –the soul locked inside it hates her- and this is because Asuka can pilot Unit 01 -Yui likes her-.
  • The One I Love Is: After being absorbed into Unit 01 and being told about Rei’s origins Shinji realizes he was the only could pilot Unit 01 despite being a teen with no training because his mother is inside the giant robot.
  • Scar Tissue: After the resurfacing of the secret organization SEELE in the post-apocalyptic world many politicians and military men want to force to Asuka -and Shinji, and even Rei- to pilot again the last Evangelion NERV has left because they are the only ones can activate it, even though they are utterly broken in body and mind.
  • The Second Try: One of the consequences of being stuck in the past is Shinji and Asuka know now they were selected to be Evangelion pilots -even if they were children- because their mothers’ souls are locked inside their robots. That knowledge should allow them a better synch with their machines, but they can not display it because they do not want people finding out about the time-travelling bit.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: Asuka was the only one could pilot Unit-02 because her mother's soul was locked inside and could synch with her. For a long time Asuka clung to that fact to convince herself she was special and unique and worth of something, and so boosting her very fragile self-esteem. Throughout the story, though, she gradually loses her capability to synch with her robot, and piloting gradually feels less important or special than being Supergirl.
  • Thousand Shinji: After the debacle with Units 03 and 04 where one of their friends died and another got crippled Shinji sets to find out because only children can pilot Evangelions. When he discovers that their mothers are inside their robots he does not take it well.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide: Shinji, Asuka and Rei are teenagers but they’re the only ones capable of piloting an Evangelion. Unit-01 will only obey Shinji and Rei because their mother is inside, and Unit-02 doesn’t acknowledge anyone other than Asuka. Later on, Keiko is recruited because she's the only one capable of activating Unit-08.
  • Invoked in Once More with Feeling, when Kaji talks to Ritsuko and states that Shinji, Asuka and Rei are -sadly- the only ones able to pilot an Evangelion in spite of being only fourteen because their war mechas will only obey those three kids.

     Film  
  • Timmie and his pet robot in The Invisible Boy.
  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a young John Connor plays around with the T-800 for a bit after learning it has to obey his commands, but later on, he uses his power over the machine for more serious purposes - most importantly, telling it Thou Shalt Not Kill.
  • In The Iron Giant, the titular robot becomes something of a pet for Hogarth Hughes (albeit a fifty-foot-tall pet that eats metal). The bond the two develop become powerful enough that when the Giant snaps and turns into a Killer Robot, Hogarth is able to talk him out of it.
  • Hiro is this to Baymax in Big Hero 6, though the only control he has is Baymax's programmer prerogative to look after Hiro's well-being. It's unclear if there was a way for someone else to have overridden Hiro's control.

     Literature  

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who
    • Charlotte Abigail Lux in "Silence in the Library"/"The Forest of the Dead" has control of a planet-sized library (and a data-checking device the size of a moon) via a literal TV remote.
    • In "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances", Jamie has control over an entire army.
  • Ambassador Magma: Mamoru summons Magma and his family with a whistle.

    Video Games 
  • Robot Alchemic Drive: The player character controls a Humongous Mecha by remote control.
  • Drakengard: Seere, whose pact-partner is Golem, a giant stone construct with very dim intelligence.
  • Twisted Metal: Black: Literally a kid with a remote control; picking the vehicle Yellow Jacket sees the player controlling the corpse of Charlie Kane, who in turn is being controlled by his autistic son, who constructed a device to reanimate his murdered father. In his ending, Calypso breaks the remote control and adopts the boy, as he needs an heir. He would have used the boy's brother, Needles, but he was killed in the contest.
  • The character Lymle in Star Ocean: The Last Hope has control over a giant hell-hound she calls 'Doggy'. Precis of Star Ocean: The Second Story, was literally this, using a robotic backpack for combat.
  • Alice and Ape III are the next to last opponent in Nintendo's Arm Wrestling arcade game. You beat them by sticking a magnet against Ape III's head...
  • Yuna from Final Fantasy X, in the past in the series the "summons" have been simply really impressive magic spells, Yuna actually calls down whatever the magic creature of the day is and directly controls the dragon/devil/half-naked ice-woman in battle.
  • Scribblenauts: The player has the power to summon anything in the in-game dictionary (which is incredibly huge), thus by extension Maxwell holds this power as well.
  • BlazBlue has Carl Clover and Nirvana/Ada, his Magitek Forgotten Superweapon/big sister.
  • Darkstalkers: The video game series features a robot named Huitzil (known as Phobos in Japan.) Though originally programmed to destroy all life on earth, a malfunction changes his prime directive to protect a little boy named Cecil. In his ending, he also changes the directives of all other huitzil units so that they protect Cecil as well...to the detriment of everyone else on the planet.
  • Any Mon games including Pokémon, Demikids, Dragon Quest Monsters, etc... especially since the heroes of these games are kids, yet they have ability to control, raise, and breed monsters that are as tall as or even taller than them. Especially because in Pokémon you can capture Arceus, the creator of the universe.
  • In Fallout 4, you can come across a young girl named Kat, wandering around the wasteland as a merchant with a huge Sentry Bot in tow. For those not in the know, a Sentry Bot is a 9-foot-tall tripodal Killer Robot with a gatling gun, a repeating missile launcher, and two shoulder-mounted mortars. Here's a pic. It's never elaborated on how Kat got control of this thing, nor where her parents are or why she travels the Commonwealth alone, but you can bet that she's not coming into harm any-time soon.

Alternative Title(s): Kid With The Remote Control

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheKidWithTheRemoteControl