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Young Conqueror
"The only person with whom I felt any kinship with died three hundred years before the birth of Christ. Alexander of Macedonia, or Alexander the Great, as you know him. His vision of a united world... well, it was unprecedented. I wanted... needed to match his accomplishments, and so I resolved to apply antiquity's teaching to our world, today. And so began my path to conquest. Conquest not of men, but of the evils that beset them."
Adrian Veidt, Watchmen

Youthful idealism can be a beautiful thing. There are few things audiences love more than the idea of a gifted teenager (or sometimes simply a young adult) who can see what's wrong with the world and, after initially feeling overwhelmed and powerless in the face of a Crapsack World, deciding that they need to do something about it.

In some cases, may obtain or be born with some special power to help them achieve their goal. Whether they do or not, the key difference between the Young Conqueror and The Hero is that instead of fighting crime on a case by case basis or having to face an already existing Big Bad, they have a much bigger vision and will try to Take Over the World in a belief that Utopia Justifies the Means. However, if these ideas are already a quick way for adult characters to go merrily Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, being a young, frustrated rebel, complete with the standard emotional immaturity and sometimes flat-out childish fantasies you'd expect out of someone this age only makes things worse. Consequently, they often end up as a Well-Intentioned Extremist and end up on Anti-Hero, unless they are a(n) (Anti)Villain Protagonist.

In addition to differing from the typical hero in vision - or ends - they will also differ in the means used. In contrast to the Idiot Hero, the Young Conqueror will have a strong dose of Intelligence Equals Isolation, which may cause them to be quite prideful. And instead of a typical hero who reacts to the Evil Plan of the Big Bad and fights with brawn, they are a Guile Hero who uses brains to come up with their own schemes, often being either The Chessmaster, Manipulative Bastard, Magnificent Bastard, Mary Tzu, or all of the above, capable of cooking up The Plan just as good as or possibly better than your standard Big Bad. As such, they are often subversions or inversions of The Villain Makes the Plot, which is one of the main reasons why these characters are so unique and interesting.

If they're targeted by bullies, expect them to later gloat Who's Laughing Now?, though when they realize the extent of the damage they've caused, they're especially prone to wondering My God, What Have I Done? and going through a Heroic BSOD and/or Heel Realization, assuming their Übermensch mentality cracks enough to let them see it. These characters often die young, seemingly "burned out" by their own genius, though a Young Conqueror who lives to adulthood can either continue down their path to Anti-Villain status (or sometimes simply become The Big Bad, deluded by their own idealism), or they can become a mentor who issues Jacob Marley Warnings to other youngsters in their former position.

In a way a variant of Rags to Riches. A milder and hopefully less bloody version found in the commercial rather than politico-military sphere is the Self-Made Man. When this is Recycled In Space, it is likely to be Galactic Conqueror.

When the Young Conqueror is done with his conquests, he may settle down to being The Emperor.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Death Note: all of the four main characters have the mental qualifications to be this, but only Light is idealistic and ruthless enough to follow this route.
  • Code Geass: Lelouch vi Britannia, insofaras wanting to take down the Holy Britannian Empire.
  • Monster: a story where the main villain, Johan, has all the qualifications, but rather than changing the world, wants to destroy it, just because he can. Unlike For the Evulz types who want to watch the world burn, he doesn't seem to get much satisfaction out of the horrible things he does: he just wants to set it on fire. And is very good at it.
  • Naruto has Pein/Nagato, who learned ninjutsu in his youth with his True Companions and afterwards started a group with them to create a better world and was given the Rinnegan. After being forced to kill his best friend, he commits bloody vengeance on his betrayers and plans to create a super-weapon that will scare the other villages into stopping all war.
  • Legend of Galactic Heroes: Reinhard von Lohengramm is a textbook example. Luckily he has Kircheis to watch his back, both physically and morally.
  • Akumetsu. He acts like a goofy Idiot Hero, but he is actually very cunning and resourceful. He is also much more physical than other examples of this trope.
  • The protagonist of Lost+Brain.
  • The backstory of To Love-Ru seems to say Lala's father is one of these on a galactic scale.
  • Shinobu Sensui, in contrast to Yusuke Urameshi. Is a pretty brutal Knight Templar as a Spirit Detective and wants to Kill All Humans as a villain- seeing as his idealistic black-and-white worldview did a 180 since he was on the side of good (pre- Face-Heel Turn he thought all humans were good and all demons were evil, as the Big Bad he thinks the opposite).
  • There seem to be a few characters in Revolutionary Girl Utena who seem to fit this... but not the eponymous Utena, who is just rebellious on a personal level.
  • Star Driver has the Glittering Crux as an organization led by these, though for now the only one to have shown definite proof of belonging here is Kanako, a teenager who plays the Stock Market like a fiddle (and who is an Olympic level boxer... as well as a damn hot chick).
  • Griffith from Berserk in the Golden Age arc, before he became a demonic god.

    Comicbooks 
  • The title character of the DC Comics series Prez: Prez Rickard, 18 year old President Of The United States.
  • Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias from Watchmen, Alexander's fanboy wants to conquer the evils of mankind, he also builds a business empire from scratch and pushes his body and mind to perfection.
  • Tony Stark before becoming Iron Man was a business version of this; he was also a drunken playboy. In Civil War he gets back on the conquering horse.
  • Hunter Rose aka Grendel, genius writer by day and hitman by night, takes control of a criminal empire spanning from Atlanta to Montreal with NYC at the centre.

    Fan Fiction 

    Film 

    Literature 
  • Dune: Kwisatz Haderachs Paul Atreides and God Emperor Leto Atreides. Probably Trope Codifier.
  • Jake from Animorphs grows into this over three years of leading a guerrilla strike force.
  • In Harry Potter, Voldemort, Dumbledore, and Grindelwald are hinted to have been this, for a start.
  • Peter Wiggin in Ender's Game. The Ender's Shadow series details his rise to power as Hegemon of Earth.
  • Thomas Cale in the Left Hand Of God seems to be evolving into one of these.
  • The A Song of Ice and Fire series has had a few of these.
    • One such figure that a number of characters admire is a past Targaryen King, Daeron I, who is known by the moniker "The Young Dragon" and managed to do what all the Targaryens (even those with huge dragons at their disposal) had failed to do: conquer the Kingdom of Dorne. An older and more cynical character points out that trying to actually hold Dorne, however, took up an ungodly amount of resources and resulted in many casualties, since the Dornish prefer insurgency anyway. The Dornish killed the governor Daeron had installed and a rebellion started almost instantly. The Young Dragon died along with 40,000 men trying to quash it. A later Daeron peacefully brought Dorne into the kingdom through political marriage, and it's kept there largely by leaving them to govern their own affairs whenever possible.
    • Daenerys Targaryen shows herself rather adept at conquest, completely destroying Slaver's Bay and the slave trade. However, she quickly learns that while she may have a knack for conquest, actually ruling these places whose societies she upended is a far greater challenge.
    • Robb Stark emerges as an excellent general who wins every battle that he fights, but loses the war, due partially to a lack of political skill and partially to letting idealism and Honor Before Reason get in the way.
  • The trope, specifically in the example of Alexander the Great, is harshly criticized in Jonathan Wild by Henry Fielding. Wild, a historical figure who controlled London crime in the mid 17th century is presented as a great admirer of Alexander, and this admiration is because Alexander was a murderer, thief, and rapist, but since the Rape, Pillage, and Burn was on a grand scale, people think of him as a hero. Wild hopes that in his own small way, he can become a sufficiently powerful criminal that he will be thought of as a Great Man.
  • In The Count of Monte Cristo, Luigi Vampa, a celebrated bandit, is analogized to one of these, because he's achieved power and celebrity and is not yet 30. Vampa may be aware of the comparison, since he likes to read Julius Caesar for fun.
  • The backstory of Mackenzie Calhoun from Star Trek: New Frontier.
  • The Branion historical fantasy series features an entire royal family prone to this. Starting with the kingdom's founder in the backstory, who made a pact with a god and used its power to conquer the realm — since she reigned for 63 years, she must have been pretty young to start with.
  • An example is noted in the backstory of The Stormlight Archive - the Sunmaker, a semi-legendary Alethi king who began his conquests in his late teens and became one of the most revered leaders in Alethkar's history.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The title character in the Korean serial epic Jumong.

    Videogames 
  • Darth Revan in Knights of the Old Republic. Revan was a Jedi prodigy whose peerless strategy won the Mandalorian War for the Republic, and nearly won the Jedi Civil War for the Sith. S/he built up quite the Evil Empire before being betrayed in the traditional Sith manner, and is respected and/or feared throughout the Galaxy. All of this judging by his/her unmasked appearance in the game before about twenty-five to thirty.
    • The fact that Revan was young enough to be accepted into the Academy post-mind-wipe supports that he/she is fairly young, too. While the Sith do have something like a Philsophers Stone, even his/her non-jedi contemporaries speaking of past campaigns generally fall into the same age category.
  • The player´s character in the second installment of the Overlord series is a very dark version of this trope.
  • The Player Character in Fable III can be played as a Young Conqueror, following in the footsteps of their same-gender parent (the Player Character of Fable II) who rose from a broke orphan raised by Gypsies to become Monarch of Albion, largely though shrewd Real Estate purchases.
  • In the Dynasty Warriors game, Sun Ce (see below) always plays this trope to the hilt. His personal campaign usually details how, if he had avoided his historic early death, he would have gone on to unite China himself.
    • Meanwhile, in Samurai Warriors, Masamune Date tends to play this role - young, brash, respectless, immensely talented and ambitious. Interestingly, the historical Masamune Date was both closer to, and further from, this ideal.
  • In Sengoku Basara, Masamune plays much the same role, only he's actually got the charisma to make taking over the country achievable. Ieyasu is a more humble and idealistic example who's more interested in making the country a better place than just lording it over everyone else.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, Caesar of Caesar's Legion was once this, having founded the Legion at around 21, though he's in his fifties by the time you meet him.
    • The Courier has the option of going this route, with the help of Yes Man.
  • Gulcasa in Yggdra Union and Blaze Union, though rather than having the standard prideful Übermensch personality he's a Messianic Archetype driven by PTSD. He becomes emperor of Bronquia at age 17, deems continental conquest to be the most efficient way to destroy societal prejudice, and in the canon end of the games dies at age 20 after ruining his health and losing all of his loved ones to his own wars. In Yggdra Unison, where it's possible for him to succeed, he settles down as a benevolent world leader after making his ideals reality.
  • Prince Maximiliam from Valkyria Chronicles, an ambitious 29 year old imperial general.

    Real Life 
  • In general this was much more common in ancient times, when the sons of aristocracy would often receive their military training through direct battlefield experience at ages younger than what we would consider the norm for adulthood. This often went hand-in-hand with Asskicking Equals Authority.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte (borderline: he wasn't a teen anymore, but he became a general at 24, and was only 30 when named First Consul of France).
  • Alexander the Great: He became a military commander at the age of 16, became king and began his conquest of the known world at the age of 20, and died emotionally and physically burned out at age 32 with his plans completely unfinished with no successor to leave them to.
    • In something of a variant of this, Alexander was in fact being groomed to be a conqueror by his father who was a Magnificent Bastard in his own right.
  • Evariste Galois... for the world of mathematics at least.
  • Charles XII of Sweden (also known as Carolus Rex. Ascending the throne at 15, Denmark-Norway, Poland-Saxony, and Russia formed an alliance against Sweden to take advantage of his youth. Charles surprised everybody by holding his own and then outright invading and conquering the first two members of the alliance, winning an outnumbered victory against the Russians (and almost killing Peter the Great) in the process. He got greedy fighting in Russia, however, and was beaten decisively at Poltava.
    • He was even nicknamed "the Alexander of the North".
  • Genghis Khan came to be this going from being a Noble Fugitive, nearly alone on the steppes with his mother to being The Scourge of God.
  • Glorious Leaders seem to always pretend to follow this trope even if they've never fought a war in their entire lives. As modern warfare is too bureaucratized for this, this image becomes something like Miles Gloriosus.
  • During the Three Kingdoms Era of China, Sun Ce - founder of the Kingdom of Wu - fits this trope. He was known as the 'Little Conqueror' because of it - taking control of the prestigious Sun-family after the death of his famed father, Sun Jian, when he was barely out of his teens - and with skill and courage, seizing vast quantities of land. (Sadly, at the age of 25, he died young as well. So it goes...)
    • Sun Ce being called the "Little Conqueror" is actually a reference to Xiang Yu, "Hegemon-King of Western Chu", himself an example, having taken most of China at the time. He himself died young at the age of 30 as he suicided himself since his army was obliterated by the Han Forces and he had nowhere to run or call home.
  • King David.
  • Henry V of England. He decisively defeated the French at Agincourt and came further than any other English monarch in conquering France. Unfortunately for him, he died just two years after the Treaty of Troyes was signed, in his thirties, of dysentery, with all his long-term plans left unfulfilled and the English throne left to his infant son, the later Henry VI.
  • Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II earned the title Fatih ('The Conqueror' in Turkish) at age 19 by taking the ancient Byzantine capital of Constantinople, which had resisted several previous sieges in spite constant decay of the Byzantine Empire's power over the centuries and increasing number and potency of neighbouring threats. Given that he inherited most of the Balkans and about half of Anatolia, while Constantinople was a half abandoned Land of One City at this point, this was not objectively quite as impressive as it sounds.
  • Thutmoses III, Pharaoh of Egypt (reigned 1479 BCE-1425 BCE), ran the Egyptian Army during his joint reign with his stepmother/aunt Hatshepsut as soon as he was of age (some time in his mid-teens, apparently). After Hatshepsut died, Thutmose—then only 21—began a massive campaign of conquest that saw Egypt build an empire stretching from Syria to Nubia. During his campaigns, Thutmose proved himself a tactical and strategic genius, and modern military historians often compare him to Napoleon Bonaparte. Unlike many young conquerors, however, Thutmose lived long enough to enjoy the conquest; he lived to the then-ripe age of 55 and had more or less full control of the country for over thirty of them.


Young And In ChargeTeenage TropesYouth Is Wasted on the Dumb
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alternative title(s): The Alexander
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