Child Soldiers in fanfiction.
- A particularly ridiculous version is the Star Trek fanfiction series about Marissa Picard, in which a twelve-year-old is given command of the Enterprise saucer section, and does so well with it that she is permanently promoted to Ensign (not acting, like Wesley Crusher at 16). She starts up a "Kids' Crew" organization that is a shadow government for starships, in which children, none of whom seem to be over 12, can take over the running of a ship if its senior crew are incapacitated. Their ranks are acting, but so long as they're still 'activated' they can tell any properly commissioned officer what to do. Few of the adults over whose heads they jump seem to mind, and those that do quite reasonably resent it are depicted as idiots. By way of comparison, in TNG, there was a "cadet crew" made up of some of the teens and older pre-teens, but their activities were realistically limited. The only time they actually did anything "for real" was during an exceptionally severe shipwide emergency where everyone available was needed. Even then, they were limited to doing what they'd actually learned.
- Child of the Storm:
- Harry seems to be slowly drifting into this, being 13 at the start of the first book. Unusually for this trope, almost all the adults in his life explicitly trying to keep him out of trouble, being entirely aware of the problems of this trope. However, thanks to a mix of his Chronic Hero Syndrome, uncanny nose for trouble, and a number of major villainous entities and power-groups (e.g. HYDRA) wanting to eliminate him before he becomes a serious threat, and above all, the manipulations of Doctor Strange (who's shaping Harry to ultimately take on Thanos) he winds up becoming something like this - doubly so after the Avengers and other adults reluctantly start training him in earnest because he's going to need to know how to defend himself, while also trying to make sure that he maintains a relatively normal social life. Unlike most examples, he's increasingly a Shell-Shocked Veteran, but fairly stable, more of a Kid Hero... then, early in the sequel, during the Forever Red arc, he runs into the Red Room, creators of the Winter Soldier and the Black Widows. They end up reprogramming his - unknown to them - empty body as the Red Son, the Winter Soldier's superpowered successor, and using him on 6-months-in-12-days of missions involving assassination and Mind Rape. When he gets his body and the memories back, he a) goes berserk, b) even after being reined in, he exhibits classic symptoms of PTSD and admits that he's 'not entirely sane'.
- To one extent or another, his friends start ending up like this, which is why he explicitly wants to keep Ron, Hermione, and Clark out of the more action-packed side of things.
- Maddie Pryor a.k.a. Rachel Grey, the stolen at birth twin of Jean Grey, is raised as a straight example of this, being trained from birth to be a Living Weapon and is barely able to interact normally with other people after her HeelFace Turn.
- In Exoria, Hylian Joint Intelligence is revealed to have hijacked the Spencer Welfare Program, an initiative designed to raise and educate orphaned children so they can serve the government when then grow up. Joint Intelligence keeps tabs on the program to search for candidates for the intelligence agency, and provide them underage military training covertly. Agent Link became an exceedingly young agent of Joint Intelligence this way. On one hand, Link doesn't seem to be too badly off with this upbringing, but Princess Zelda clearly disapproves, and, given the story's narrative slant, it's too early to tell how this will come back to bite Link in the ass.
- In The Mad Scientist Wars, Commander Primary Xerox, head of The Men in Black-style organization M is somewhere between the two types. Up until the age of ten he was trained along with other children to be an assassin, and sent to kill Mad Scientists. On one hand, he has amazing reflexes and a great deal of weapon training, but on the other hand The guilt of his only mostly repressed memories has haunted his adult life, and he's never really recovered from the emotional stress. And he has the body of a Jaded Vet to go along with his mentality.
- Played for drama (obviously - it is a Bokurano concept applied to ponies) in Our Equestria - a group of children gets tricked into Falling into the Cockpit. It gets From Bad to Worse from there.
- Shinji And Warhammer 40 K: Discounting the pilots themselves, Shinji has the "Gretch," an entire army of young children to do his bidding by passing messages, spying on the whole city, and performing various missions for him.
- Fauna considers the Titans to be this, and hasn't much respect for the JLA (or Doom Patrol) as a result. She also finds it very disquieting to see the Titans' children so eager to follow in their parents' footsteps. She keeps her opinion mostly to herself to avoid offending her teammates, only confessing it to Troia, who tried to justify it. It still makes her seriously question the ethics of choosing a caped hero's life.
- Tabitha, as portrayed in the The Familiar of Zero fics Points of Familiarity and The Hill of Swords, is one by dint of her Evil Uncle sending her on impossible missions in the hope of getting her killed. She persists in disappointing him.
- Deconstructed during the Tamers Forever Series"What am I supposed to do now?" Henry whispered. His body let go of itself and Henry fell right next to the immense rookie Digimon.
"I know what they want me to do they want me to just jump to the front line and take my friends to battle, as if we were soldiers willing to die for our country. Besides, they think it's so easy that in the end, Daemon will be defeated, just like D-Reaper and the Nightmare."
The sound of Henry's fist crashing against the floor covered Jeri's gasp.
"Of course! If the kids do it, it's because it's easy, right?"
- Kakashi's Kid, a Naruto fic, has one of the genius's children as the narrator. She has no hopes of leading a nonviolent life, especially if her mother is indeed an Uzumaki.
- Also from Naruto,Spider Thread has the main trio becoming ninja at a very young age.
- Again, this is a major premise of Naruto, so it naturally comes up in the Justice League crossover Connecting The Dots. The principled Justice League is horrified to discover there is a whole dimension of child assassins, even though Flash points out that the League employs plenty of teenagers.
- Digimon Clone Wars introduces the Red Ribbon Army (not to be mistaken with the one form Dragon Ball), a terror organization lead by Davis, who consists entirely out of the cloned children of the other Digidestineds. Taken up to eleven by the fact, that some of those children are not even two years old. The sad thing is, the author actually thinks Davis is a good guy, despite that and expects us, to root for him.
- The Cutie Mark Crusaders officially become ones in chapter 16 of Ace Combat: The Equestrian War. To their credit, they actually want to fight the griffins and they helped in defending Ponyville ealier.
- Darklanders that serve as Ungoliant's soldiers are inclined to be teenagers and young adults. Individuals older than twenty-six are relatively uncommon.
- In Boys Do Tankary, several of the characters have actual military experiene despite not being older than the Girls und Panzer cast. Nyra is 12, her crew consists of several teenage girls. On the more extreme side, Vincent was six when he entered the army, and he and Gage were seven when they got leadership of their own platoons. While the war is portrayed fairly disturbingly, the implications it would have on the kids are not fully explored, although Vincent and Gage are driven to drink by a series of events that resulted in Nyra's death or so they thought at the time.
- Played for Laughs in Scootertrix the Abridged, where the Cutie Mark Crusaders are not only in the military, but are leading it as Celestia's most trusted generals, in a three way war between Equestria, Sombra, and The Changeling Empire. Much to Luna's horror.
- Ash Ketchum in Traveler ends up working for the Pokemon League as an Elite Four Trainee after his incredibly talent is recognized. Notably, others like Steven are far more concerned about the fact Ash is only 12 and getting into life and death situations than he is.
- Played surprisingly straight in To the Stars. Not with the veteran Magical "Girls", many of whom comfortably predate the anti-aging treatments applicable to the general population, but freshly contracted kids as young as their chronological early teens are invariably drafted and sent to the front lines of an interstellar war with alien invaders within weeks of being identified. They get the most comfortable billets available and all the psychological help that can be found. They are automatically commissioned, and the power-armored centenarians under their nominal command have standing orders to protect them at all costs. Such things take the edge off... some... but the use of Magical Girls is the only reason humanity has not been wiped out yet.
- StarKitsProphcy: Starpaw is such an amazing fighter that she's made a warrior after being apprenticed for only 3.14 days. Cats become apprentices at only 6 months, so she's barely the equivalent of a teenager (if even that).
- Downplayed with six year old Link in Blind Courage, He's begun his training but he won't be expected to be a full-on guard until he's older.
- Coventina's Crown: By seventeen, Morain is one of the greatest warriors that the Nameless Zone has ever known.
Just Plain Tragic
- Advice and Trust: Shinji, Asuka and Rei, fourteen-years-old kids pilot war mechs and fight a war against giant alien monsters. Asuka and Rei have been training her whole lives for it, and the former is especially devoted to it. Often they talk about how broken they are due to be someone else's war tools.
- In All-American Girl, Chrysalis used her abilities to produce numerous pony/changeling hybrid (or "pepsis") children from her rape of Shining Armor. She then uses her magic to accelerate their growth so they reach young adulthood pretty much at birth. Though some manage to prove themselves and act like generals or elite operatives, she really only views them as tools and pawns in her plans, and is perfectly willing to kill them or send them on a Suicide Mission if they show any "weakness" (ie, empathy or morality), and she doesn't really her pure changeling offspring as anything more than tools either, or maybe potential rivals in the case of her princess daughters. Twilight Sunburn can attest to that.
- The Child of Love: Shinji, Asuka and Rei are fourteen-years-old kids forced to or cajoled into fighting giant alien monsters. This is already pretty bad as it is, but it gets worse when Gendo decides turning a newborn baby into a war weapon.
- Evangelion 303: Despite of the original material playing the trope, this fanwork consciously averts it. The creator does not keep the pilots' canon ages, and all of them are at least twenty-years-old.
- In Dumbledore's Army and the Year of Darkness, at least half of the members of the Dumbledore's Army die horribly, and a good amount are crippled or killed in the sequel. However, the fic tends to glorify the hardened child soldiers in comparison to Harry, who hasn't embraced the military mindset. What's more, it gets taken to utterly ludicrous levels. Somehow, they manage to form a complete mock-military structure despite being from a culture with no armed forces, develop a martyrdom mindset that in real life requires indoctrination from toddlerhood, and in general make an absolute mockery out of the subject. And the injuries they suffer are only terrible because the author's forgotten the Harry Potter universe has extremely powerful magical healing.
- The Firefly fanfic Forward has a reveal later on that some of the Academy's test subjects are pre-teens. It is implied that one of them managed to kill several security guards when a training exercise went out of control.
- HERZ: Shinji, Asuka and Rei were child soldiers in the past, and the ordeal broke them down. Twelve years after they have mostly recovered but not entirely, and the past will not leave them alone.
- The Pokémon fanfic Dawn of a New Era features the eponymous Pokémon coordinator as a badass but broken warrior.
- The Sufferists from Hivefled are led by a Well-Intentioned Extremist with a penchant for Fantastic Racism, and consist mostly of kids and youths who skipped conscription, with the few adults being mostly disabled. Said leader later leads all 250 of them into battle with the thousands-strong Alternian fleet, which ends about as well as you'd expect.
- Shinji And Warhammer 40 K: Reconstructed with Mana when she declares that, yes, she has been traumatized, and yes, she has lost friends, but she is a soldier, it is her LIFE, and she refuses quitting.
- Alex Vaughn, the main protagonist from The Terminators: Army of Legend series was kidnapped when he was only three years old and forced into the military. By the time he founds the Terminator Militia, he's only four years old.
- The War of the Masters:
- Owing in part to a bureaucratic mistake between species with different aging rates (Klingons are physically adult several years sooner than humans or Gorn), the Klingon Defense Force and allied services ended up inducting Gorn and Moabite human minors as full soldiers. The practice was abolished after somebody with sense managed to get the age problem across to the Klingon high command, but not soon enough to prevent Moabite teens developing war-induced PTSD, especially after the Fek'Ihri invasion of Moab III and New Saigon.
- Elizabeth Tran, Rebel Leader and future First Minister of the Moab Confederacy, started recruiting anyone old enough to aim a gun into her independence movement months before the events of In The Presence Of Heaven Would You Choose Hell, where Moab comes under attack from Orion slavers and then secedes from the Federation to ally with the Klingon Empire. The numbers of the militia on Moab itself are augmented with cloned soldiers who are also biologically young teens when activated. The child soldiers, especially the vat-grown ones, are very effective, and the Moab Confederacy tries to justify this with the fact that they've got to build a military fast and have very few experienced soldiers (the entire country has only 500 million people, and most of their trained personnel are defectors or retirees from Starfleet, surviving Maquis, or Klingon advisers), but these kids are thrown headlong into many of the bloodiest battles in the continuity, which leaves many of them with severe PTSD. When the practice is finally discovered, it causes a huge international incident and the Moab Parliament's hamhanded attempt to fix the problem only makes things worse.
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide: Shinji, Asuka, Rei and the remaining Children are fourteen-years-old kids forced to drive war machines and win a war. In chapter 11, Misato and Ritsuko argue their position:Misato: You know, as much as everyone seems to want to blame Asuka, we really are all responsible. Keiko should have never been out there. Sending her was a crime.
Ritsuko: Spoken like someone who doesn't realize that what she does for a living is send children to war. Meanwhile, have you even been to see her?
- Children of an Elder God: Played for horror in this Evangelion/Cthulhu Mythos crossover. All adults who try to synch with an Evangelion go mad, mutate or die. The only ones capable of piloting an Evangelion are six fourteen-year-old kids who have to fight Cthulhu and co. to save humanity, and whose bodies change and mutate whenever they kill an Eldritch Abomination. Eventually they stop being human, and although they don't go mad, they're very traumatized.
- In Once More with Feeling: Several characters like Kaji highlight that NERV is using kids to fight giant alien monsters, and the Eva pilots have an awful deal, but unfortunately the survival of mankind demands sacrifices. Even so, Shinji is understandably bitter about it.Shinji: You are asking a fourteen year old child to put his life on the line, going into combat against things that tear through divisions of crack troops.
- The issue is called out in Neon Metathesis Evangelion. There is some discussion about the morality of using child soldiers, and a more in-depth background provided on how this all works.Kaji, after Ramiel boiled Asuka and Shinji alive: "That's why so far nobody has said a word. Asuka is right: Officially, she was at Berlin to help in researching EVA technology, rather than to get combat training as a six year old child. Officially, using the research objects as weapons is an emergency solution. Officially, the children have no military rank, are not part of any armed forces, and could walk away at any time. Hell, that's really why we're making them go to school, isn't? We're upholding an illusion of normalcy that just isn't there. No, those aren't child soldiers, why, they're just normal students who help out at NERV after school. He shook his head with an ironic grin on his face. We've presented the world with a lie that's easy to swallow. And because the world is so dependent on those children to defeat the angels, nobody looks too closely and everyone just upholds the lie.""Of course, it's just three pilots. Just three children. In Africa there are several warlords with entire companies and battalions of child soldiers. But nobody cares about Africa. Half its territory is recognized as being stateless. But the U.N. they have become a pillar of stability since Second Impact. Maybe the pillar of global stability. The paragon of virtue that keeps the squabbling nation-states at bay. If people become aware, really aware, how a U.N. organization is using child soldiers..."
- In fact, the pilots point out several times that officially they aren't part of a military hierarchy and that hence officially Misato, Gendo, Fuyutsuki aren't their military superiors. Especially Asuka does so, even though she, having been trained since the age of six, doesn't even fully recognize what is wrong with child soldiery. But sometimes using that argument just is convenient for her.
- Let Us Be Your Poison: Even before joining Beacon and similar academies at seventeen, students have already long-since begun their huntsman training. Many children learn from a very young age to fight like adults. The protagonist Ruby is especially young for a Beacon student, being only fifteen when she's skipped into Beacon.
- Their Bond: Zelda and Link both began fighting in a war at age 13. The war traumatized them. Link was already an alcoholic and drug addict before age 18. During Zelda's treason trial, Link being a child soldier is discussed because Hyrule has laws against it. More specifically, it's considered "corruption of a minor" (someone under 18) to "give a minor tasks specified for an adult". Link is a special case because he had previously given a sworn statement saying that he fully understood what he was getting into.
- In Love Worth Waiting For, one of Mulan's recruits, dubbed "Little Brother", claims to be fourteen, however he's clearly closer to twelve. Mulan hates seeing such a young boy train to be a soldier.
- In New Hope University: Major In Murder, there is a character named Guiseppe Perfetto, more commonly known as Bepi. He was put at 6 years old in a military of people who wanted to break him and the others, breaking their minds. An example of this of these includes when he was put into a room with other children, with only one person going out alive. He didn't even have a name for a long time, being referred to as a number until he chose his name to annoy his commanders.
- In Beautiful Light, Team Galactic has members as young as thirteen year old Saturn in its ranks. Mitsumi was even younger than Saturn, being only seven when she began her Tyke Bomb training.
- The Masks we Wear (JiggleWigs): In chapter 1, Ozai confronts and kills a spy who is still a teenager himself. The boy is not even large enough to fit into the adult guard's uniform.