Troubled Child

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"I'm not sure which she needs more, a hug or a bath."

The Troubled Child is an innocent-looking youngster who looks cute enough, until you notice they rarely smile, and tend to talk in a broken deadpan when they talk at all. They may inexplicably burst into tears at times. Usually the cause of their trouble is Parental Abandonment, Abusive Parents, or a congenital impairment of some sort.

Has excellent Woobie potential, but if the writers go too far, they may end up as The Scrappy for less "compassionate" viewers. Opposite of the Cheerful Child. Compare Creepy Child, and don't confuse with Bratty Half-Pint. Compare Lonely Rich Kid.


Examples:

Manga and Anime
  • Fard from Space Runaway Ideon. Like most of the other kids, he lost his parents when the Buff Clan attacked the colony on Solo. Spends most of his time, moping, cries easily and carries a rag doll with him for most of the series. Then, he's killed off. Alongside everyone else.
  • Emile of Count Cain, due to Parental Neglect, mainly.
  • Natsume's Book of Friends is about a Troubled Child finally getting a chance to recover from past trauma he's dealt with.
  • Yuu from Noein. At the beginning of the series it's quite clear he's on the edge of a severe nervous breakdown due to the extremely controlling nature of his mother. Once his mother gets some sense talked into her and eases up, he starts to slowly improve.

Film
  • Newt in Aliens, due to the trauma of trying to survive the aliens' infestation of her colony, either reacts like a frightened animal or is pretty much catatonic after Ripley and the Marines find her. It's only when Ripley takes on a maternal role to her that Newt begins to come out of her shell.

Theatre
  • Winthrop in The Music Man, described by his older sister Marian as "a problem child who can't understand why his father was taken away." He lisps when he talks, too.
  • Zoe in Quidam is a lonely adolescent girl who feels alienated from everyone, including her parents. Her journey into a Magical Land shows her that everyone feels this way sometimes, and how she can connect/reconnect with others.

Tabletop RPG
  • In the Shadowrun adventure Divided Assets, the PC's are hired to kidnap a young boy named Shawn Gaffney. After doing so, they discover that Shawn has psychological problems due to emotional neglect by his parents.

Web Original
  • Jeannette of Funny Business at first appears, both to the other characters and to the readers, to be a Cheerful Child, but she is really this trope. Ironically, a large part of her alienation is self-inflicted, as she doesn't want to burden anybody else with her problems.
  • Thanks to abuse, The Nostalgia Critic when he was a kid. Just at kindergarten age he was drawing pictures of his parents as monsters ripping him apart.

Western Animation
  • Link from the Daria movie Is It Fall Yet? came out somewhere between this and a Mouthy Kid—he was clearly miserable (by his own admission) due to a difficult home life, but his attitude was less depressed and more angry as a result.
    • The titular character herself. Though more accurately a troubled teen, she had no interest in social interaction even as a child.

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