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Young Future Famous People
This is basically the Spinoff Babies trope applied to real people. The idea is to take Historical Domain Characters and depict them in their youth. It can be played for laughs—implying that people we normally think of as reserved, stoic, or even evil were once young and reckless themselves. (Or the opposite, where they are shown to possess the same traits and interests that later made them famous, even if realistically these would have come much later.) Of course, it may also be played straight.

If the person lived long enough ago that details of their adolescence or youth are obscure or even nonexistent, then this trope may be used as an excuse to ground an entirely fictional story in reality. Sometimes these characters are the leading characters, other times they may only serve as a fictional cameo or a Shout-Out to a Historical In-Joke.

Obviously a standard trope in Historical Fiction.

A Sub-Trope of Historical-Domain Character.

A Sister Trope to In the Past, Everyone Will Be Famous, Literary Agent Hypothesis (can overlap when a minor character in a movie turns out to be the author of the book the movie is based on).


Young Future Famous People as lead characters:

Comic Books
  • #2 of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off comic Spike Versus Dracula features a young boy who goes to see Bela Lugosi in a stage production of Dracula only to wind up in the middle of an attack by the real Dracula. When he tells this to his teacher later, he's punished for telling stories. As he writes lines, Edward Wood Jr secretly vows to make monster movies when he grows up, and then steals his teacher's angora sweater.
  • X-Men: True Friends features Kitty Pryde and Rachel Summers being sent back in time to 1936, where Kitty befriends an imperious little girl named Lilibet, whose cousin teasingly calls her "Princess". She's the future Queen Elizabeth II.
  • Lucky Luke: In one album about a proto-Freudian doctor who visits the US to test his theories (that all criminals trace their behavior back to a turning point in their childhoods) ends with a scene in which the narrator says that the theories of this professor will soon be developed by future people. Cut to a scene where a terrified nanny tells Mrs. Freud what baby Siggy tried to get her to do.

Film

Jokes
  • In Poland, in 1944, a young priest-in-training is hunted down the street by a Hitler Youth. The priest trips and falls, and the Hitler Youth proceeds to kick him while he's down. The priest shouts: Stop it! When I am old, I am going to be The Pope! The Hitler Youth just snorts and says: Yeah right. And I'm gonna be your successor. (This joke was a reference to Pope Benedict XVI, who had indeed been a member of the Hitler jugend as a child, due under force as most German children where at that time.)

Literature
  • This is the purpose of The Royal Diaries, a series of books that depicts the youthful days of several famous royal women.
  • Will of Heaven follows the ancient Chinese general Han Xin from his dirt-poor adolescence to his rise to power, and then to the cusp of his fall. The later chapters also offer glimpses at Zhang Liang's and the First Emperor's younger years.
  • Esther Friesner's Princesses of Myth series, about historical or semihistorical (or straight-up mythical) princesses of history during their childhood and young adulthood. So far she has taken on Helen of Troy, Nefertiti of Egypt, Himiko of Yamatai/Japan, and Maeve of Connacht/Ireland.

Live-Action TV
  • Leonardo
  • The TV miniseries Young Catherine featured a young Catherine the Great, played by Julia Ormond, during her rise to power in Russia.
  • Hawking: features Stephen Hawking when he was an ambulatory, oddly cute 21 year old university student.
  • The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne has not only the titular character before he wrote his novels but a few others, such as a brilliant young boy named Al, who reveals that it's short for his middle name Alva.

Western Animation
  • Little Amadeus or Wunderkind Little Amadeus features a young Mozart, who has already developed a strong musical reputation but isn't yet famous.
  • Lil Bush applied this trope to the entire Bush administration cabinet.
  • Clone High lives on this trope, but justified because they are all clones of the originals.

Video Games

Young Future Famous People as supporting characters:

Anime and Manga
  • In Black Butler, a young eye specialist and insignificant writer named Arthur was invited to Ciel's dinner party, only to be caught up in a murder mystery. After he finds out Ciel works for the Queen, Sebastain is a demon and they framed a man for someone's murder and they let Arthur live with this knowledge, it is heavily implied Arthur does become a famous mystery writer, though his middle and last name are never revealed.
  • Afterschool Charisma is basically Clone High IN JAPAN (and not quite so wacky). It's got teenage clone versions of Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie, Einstein, Sigmund Freud...

Comics

Film
  • Forrest Gump: Elvis Presley, learning how to dance from a kid with leg braces.
  • John Carter: Edgar Rice Burroughs is John Carter's adoring nephew and heir..
  • Shakespeare in Love again, with John Webster making a couple of appearances as an adolescent boy fond of Gorn in plays.
  • Shanghai Knights:
  • In the film Troy, Aeneas makes a cameo as the civilians escape through the tunnel. A charming little addition considering the movie is basically a big "eff-you" to accuracy of any sort.
  • The Tudors has the future Mary I, Elizabeth I, and Edward VI as supporting characters.
  • As does The King's Speech with the future Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret.
  • At the end of The Grandmaster, a little boy enlists in the titular master's kung-fu academy. He has the trademark grin of a certain Bruce Lee.
  • Kermit's Swamp Years, a Direct-to-DVD Muppet film about Kermit the Frog's childhood, features a scene in which Kermit is knocked down in the road and a young human boy helps him up. The boy is standing in front of a mailbox throughout the brief scene, and when he is called in for dinner, the name painted on the side is revealed: Henson.
  • The Nativity Story takes this Up to Eleven with most of the movie being about what happened to Jesus while He was still an unborn baby. The film's climax is His birth, making Him a very young future famous person indeed.

Literature
  • From the 1632 series by Eric Flint:
    • Has a cameo appearance by an infant Baruch Spinoza, and a young-ish Oliver Cromwell who is thrown into prison by Charles I for a regicide he had yet to commit.
    • Young Rembrandt Van Rijn becomes a famous artist when people learn that in the future-that-was, he was a famous artist. This happens to quite a few people who haven't done anything yet, and most of 'em are driven crazy by the attention and expectations. Rembrandt though does decide not to paint the paintings that are going to be famous, instead painting new ones.
    • An eleven year old Blaise Pascal ends up becoming a ward of Grantvile and becomes a frequent source of headaches as he attempts insanely dangerous experiments.
  • The cyberpunk short story Mozart In Mirrorshades featured a young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart being introduced to synthesizers and electronic music by time-travelers from an alternate dimension. A young Marie Antoinette also makes an appearance.
  • In Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle, in which In the Past, Everyone Will Be Famous is heavily in action, it is a kid named Ben who brings Enoch Root to Daniel Waterhouse, after the former has arrived in Massachusetts. Then, cue the flashback to Enoch visiting Isaac Newton's school when Isaac was a kid...
  • Possibly the youngest Future Famous Person occurs in M.J. Trow's Lestrade novels. The inspector points at a baby in a pram and sarcastically declares the child could play Sherlock Holmes at least as well as William Gillette. It is then strongly hinted that this is a pre-verbal Basil Rathbone.
  • The Axis of Time series by John Birmingham features accidental time-travelers from Twenty Minutes into the Future going back to World War II, where their revelations about the future course of movies and music leads entrepreneurs to find young Elvis and Marilyn Monroe, among others, and present them with contracts to buy the rights to their future creative output.
    • Prince Harry, when he's not kicking Nazi ass, takes walks with his grandmother, the future Queen Elizabeth II, who is in her early teens, and finds Harry calling her "granny" funny. By the same token, Elizabeth's future husband is still in the Royal Navy, and is constantly the subject of jibes like "Your Highness".
    • A young naval lieutenant renames his PT boat The Grassy Knoll.
  • In Time Cat, one of the adventures takes place in Italy, where the protagonists meet a young Leonardo da Vinci and help discover his painting talent.
  • Played with in A World of Laughter, a World of Tears, set in an Alternate History so while some of the figures are famous, they aren't famous for the things they are in the real timeline. For example, one viewpoint character, a young Bill Clinton will grow up for an important role for his work in civil rights but will never become President. Meanwhile another important viewpoint character, a young Jerry Brown, will.
  • In "North and South" by John Jakes, many prominent figures of the Civil War (both military and political) are mentioned. Especially any of those who attended West Point.

Theater
  • More like not-yet-born famous people in case of Macbeth, through the vision of Banquo's descendants as kings in Act 4. Especially the eighth, who is supposed to be King James I of England, who was, incidentally, Shakespeare's own patron.

Live-Action TV
  • On the show "Do Over", the main character loses a baseball game to a young Greg Maddux.
  • Boardwalk Empire features gangsters like Al Capone, Charlie 'Lucky' Luciano and Meyer Lansky in 1920 at the beginning of the Prohibition. They will not reach the height of their infamy for at least another decade.
  • Doctor Who:
  • A creepier version happens in Forever Knight. During a flashback, Lacroix is sitting on a train next to an unshaven German soldier returning from the western front after the cease-fire. He seriously considers turning him and comes within seconds of taking a bite as he is shaving, but something tells him that adding vampirism to the darkness he already sensed in his soul would be a Bad Idea... just as the soldier turns around to reveal that moustache. Which is a bit of an inaccuracy as photos of Hitler show that he had a handlebar moustache when he was younger.
    • Not to mention that Hitler was in a military hospital in Northeast Germany, hundreds of miles from the Western Front when he heard of the November Revolution and the armistice.
  • Mark Twain and Albert Michelson show up on episodes of Bonanza.
  • This happened from time to time in Quantum Leap, due to Sam just having amazing luck. For example, on one occasion, he met a nerdy teenager named Stephen King. Bigger list on Wikipedia.
  • The two-part Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Time's Arrow" featured a young Jack London, although the audience isn't aware of this until his last appearance in the episodes, before which he'd always been referred to by his first name only.
  • The German television series L÷wengrube (Lion Pit) bases on this, as it tells the history of the Munich middle class Grandauer family from the 1870s to the 1960s, following them through two world wars and the post-war episodes. One of the various examples would be the start of the first world war. In the police station (where the father works) a certain Austrian artist applies for German citizenship because he feels very German. At the same time, the Grandauer's young son is seen being buddies with a dorky bespectacled kid from his class, called Himmler, Heinrich.
  • The Russian miniseries Dostoevsky features Daddy's Daughters actress Liza Arzamasova as a young Sofia Kovalevskaya, who would later become Russia's first female mathematician.
  • This is a staple of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, where a young Indiana Jones meets various celebrities of the early 1900s and 1910s. Some of them already famous during his lifetime, others who would only become world famous in later decades, such as Charles De Gaulle, Winston Churchill, Franz Kafka, T.E. Lawrence, Kemal Ataturk and a 6 year old boy he saved from a plague-striken village in the Congo named Barthelemy Boganda, first president of the Central African Republic.
  • In the series The Time Tunnel, the main characters are trying to escape Revolutionary France and in the final scenes must get past a young, low-ranking officer who turns out to be Napoleon Bonaparte.
  • In an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show Rob & Laura discover a hidden treasure inside a desk bequeathed to him by his Identical Grandfather: a picture of Grandpa as a baby. What makes it valuable (and this trope) is the young tall, beardless man who happens to have been standing on the stairway behind Gramps and his parents when the picture was taken.
  • Spartacus: War of the Damned features Gaius Julius Caesar as a young lieutenant in the army of Marcus Crassus, and a rival of Crassus' son Tiberius, during the Third Servile War.
  • Murdoch Mysteries features numerous examples of either contemporary famous or soon-to-be-famous people. In one season six episode, the Wright Brothers are interviewed (offscreen) three years prior to the Kitty Hawk flight, while Winston Churchill - at the time newly famous for his actions in, and accounts of, the Boer War - is a murder suspect in another episode
  • Vikings does this constantly. Side characters include Rollo of Normandy, who begins the series as an enormously badass but unsophisticated warrior with vague and unrealistic dreams of greatness, Bjorn Ironside, who would go on to sack cities as far away as Italy, first shows up as an 11 year old who tries to talk his parents out of domestic squabbling, and later we have the rest of Ragnar Lodbrok's famous/infamous sons like Ivar the Boneless and Ubba, who would nearly conquer all of England for the Northmen, as cute little kids.

Video Games

Webcomics
  • In The Dreamer, a young Alexander Hamilton is a supporting character in the series, as well as Nathan Hale, since he technically became famous posthumously. Benjamin Tallmadge also makes an appearance.
  • Times Like This: Hey, if you had a time machine, you'd want to see what your favorite celebrities were like as little kids, wouldn't you? Like Cassie did with Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus.

Western Animation
  • The Simpsons:
    • In Rosebud Mr. Burns leaves his parents to live with a rich millionaire. As their car disappears in the distance Burns' parents sigh: "Ah, oh well, at least we still have his little brother George". The camera then cuts to a boy version of George Burns singing: Bwa bwa bwa bwa, Oh the sun shines bright on my old Kentucky Home, Bwa bwa bwa bwa... (spoken) Trust me, it'll be funny when I'm an old man." The underlying joke hear is that George Burns also became over a hundred years old, just like Mr. Burns.
      • Later in that same episode we see Charles Lindbergh pick up Bobo, Mr. Burns' teddybear, and take him along with on his trip with the Spirit of St. Louis. At his arrival a man in the audience picks up Bobo and later turns out to be Adolf Hitler.
  • In Futurama, a flashback to Fry's childhood reveals that Mr. Panucci's delivery boy was a young law student named Barack. Young Fry mentions that he doesn't want to end up like that loser.
    "Oh man, I have got to go back to law school."
  • In the Fairly OddParents episode Father Time, it appears the previous child Timmy's Fairy God Parents belonged to was a bespectacled boy named Billy. After Present Cosmo and Wanda show that computers displaying lava lamps on the screen are more entertaining than actual Lava Lamps to the Past Cosmo and Wanda, Billy passes by and mentions the idea of having all computers connected through something called "The Internet", but Present Cosmo tells him it should be called "The Timmy". Past Wanda then mentions little Billy Gates (Bill Gates) has the craziest ideas. It does end up being called The Timmy, and his name changes to Internet.
  • In The Guardians of the Lost Code, the protagonists meet the last Chinese emperor, Pu-Yi, as a toddler.

Other
  • A common Alternate History trope: expect to see a lot of people who only became famous in The Sixties in our history to appear as young soldiers in WW2, for instance.

Real Life
  • On occasion a picture or video include (often as a bystander or generally not the main subject) a person who would achieve fame later. Here's Winston Churchill in 1918 in a Victory Parade in France. While Churchill was already famous then, the Army officer in front of him is a then-unknown Bernard Law Montgomery, who would achieve great fame in WW2.
  • Here is a news-report about a Boys Nation visit to the John F. Kennedy White House. One of the boys who shakes hands with the President? A teen-aged Bill Clinton.
  • A Cracked list of 10 commercials done by present day celebrities before they made it. Overlaps with Old Shame.
  • This is a picture of a young Lt. Colonel meeting the Secretary of Defense. Nothing strange about it, except the young Lt Colonel is Colin Powell. Moreover, the Secretary of Defense? Donald Rumsfeld, which makes it...very funny.
  • They're out there right now. Getting conceived, being born, in school, doing normal things. No one knows when or who they will be, but in 20 years, more or less, the newspapers, magazines, and the Internet will be throwing out their name left and right without even having to explain who they are - eventually someone's going to be making a TV Tropes page for them!
  • Books dealing with the Mexican-American war often mention minor things done by very junior officers that would not normally make it into descriptions of battle. This is because the officers would have names like Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee.
  • Averted with WWI. Although almost all the leaders of the protagonists in the second round were involved in it, the sheer scale of the conflict meant that being involved in the war was expected for people of the age: the participation of a future famous person is usually taken for granted. There are exceptions made for unusual or notable cases: Monty appeared in that photo with Churchill (above), Hermann Goering was the deputy squadron commander of the The Red Baron's squadron and succeeded him, Patton was the commander of the US Tank Corps (really a company-sized unit), Erwin Rommel was a captain leading a few hundred mountain troops on the Alpine front against Italians, de Charles D Gaulle was a POW, MacArthur was the youngest general in that war, the senior Civilian from the US to visit the front was FDR and Hitler's gassing and subsequent spending of the last weeks of the war in hospital are often mentioned, in passing.
  • A WWI documentary averts...the usual aversion. In its last chapter it airs the thoughts (as recorded in letters or diaries) of certain young future famous people who fought in that war, about the ending of the war. It mentions something along the lines of; they went home,the world still did not know their names, but for reasons which began in WWI, it soon would. Some of those included, were Adolf Hitler,Rudolph Hess, Hermann Goering, Harry S Truman (a young artillery captain), Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin and others.
  • During the Versailles peace conference a young waiter and a political activist who had been witnessing proceedings attempted to talk to Woodrow Wilson about decolonisation. Wilson rebuffed him. The man's name? Ho Chi Minh.
  • In a well known anecdote, when informed before World War I that there might be a revolution in Russia if a general war breaks out in Europe, the Austrian foreign minister supposedly said "And who will lead this revolution? Perhaps Mr. Bronstein sitting over there at the Cafe Central?" Mr. Bronstein, a few years later, became much more famous as Leon Trotsky.
  • Depending on the season, Saturday Night Live's cast may or may not be composed of future famous people.
    • And the Chicago-based Improv troupe Second City is likely composed partly of future SNL cast members.
  • The officers responsible for clearing out the Bonus March: Douglas MacArthur, already famous as a four-star general and the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, his little-known assistant, Major Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the commander of the half a dozen tanks MacArthur called out to help with the operation, Major George S. Patton.
  • The Battle of Fort Necessity, which marked the start of the French and Indian War, saw the Virginia militia commanded by Lieutenant Colonel George Washington.

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