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Defusing the Tyke-Bomb

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Tykebombs are generally raised with people who tell them they're nothing but a weapon and usually treat them like crap. Then along comes someone who's different. When they look at the Tykebomb, they don't see a weapon, they see a messed-up little kid. Naturally, they try to rescue the poor Tykebomb, talking or fighting their way towards them. Hug Tropes are likely to comprise their arsenal; also expect The Power of Friendship to be used. The one doing the defusing is also likely to be a Warrior Therapist and/or an All-Loving Hero.

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Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't; what matters for trope purposes is the intent. Compare Because You Were Nice to Me.

See I Am Not a Gun, when the Tyke-Bomb defuses themselves.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • Barbara Gordon (the first Batgirl) acts this way toward Cassandra Cain (the second Batgirl). Batman, Depending on the Writer, is either a total jerkass or so badly damaged that he really cannot help much.
    • The same could be said of Dick Grayson alias Nightwing And later Batman, towards the current Robin, Damian Wayne, who was raised and trained by the League of Assassins.
  • The titular character of Squee manages to do this unintentionally to Pepito, who, despite being literally raised by Satan to teethe on the toasty souls of the damned, seems to be genuinely moved by his friendship with Squee. Of course, Squee being who he is, it happens mostly because Squee thinks Pepito is terrifying.
  • Superman:
    • Clark Kent and Lois Lane acted this way toward Lor-Zod, son of General Zod — one of the worst enemies of Superman — and his henchwoman Ursa in Last Son and New Krypton. Everyone else — including his abusive birth parents, Lex Luthor and the USA Government — wanted to capture him and control him. Lois and Clark adopted him and raised him with the name of Christopher "Chris" Kent. Chris eventually became the hero "Nightwing" (not that Nightwing, although both boys took their codenames from the same Kryptonian mythological being) and fought alongside his adoptive father and cousin.
    • Subverted with Post-Crisis Kara Zor-El. An early story stated that her father trained her to be a weapon, and Superman — with the aid of Batman and Wonder Woman — took her in and acted this way toward her. However, her abusive father was eventually retconned as a hallucination caused by Kryptonite poisoning when the real Zor-El showed up and turned out to be a pretty nice guy.
  • Wolverine acts like this towards his latest young female sidekick, X-23.

    Film 
  • In Blood Diamond, Solomon's son is captured early in the film. When they find him, he's been converted into a child soldier by the RUF rebels in Sierra Leone. At the climax, the tyke holds his father at gunpoint, but gets talked down. Unfortunately, at the end of the film it's mentioned that there are still 200,000 Child Soldiers in Africa.
    Solomon: I know they have made you do bad things... but you are not a bad boy.
  • Danny the Dog presents a particularly tough case: a man who was raised in a kennel and treated like an attack dog, intended to kill anyone who threatened his "Uncle Bart." Bart's (apparent) death leads Danny to a blind piano tuner, who tries to teach him the rules humans live by.
  • Warrior boy Nux in Mad Max: Fury Road undergoes this 180° turn. Capable convinces him that it's not yet his time to die.
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    Literature 
  • Discworld:
    • Sourcery: Rincewind does this to Coin, and the Librarian keeps it good.
    • In Unseen Academicals, when Mr. Nutt finds out he is an orc, he thinks he must be one of these due to his heritage. His friends and even random strangers in Ankh-Morpork disagree based on his behavior.
  • This is the core strategy of the City in The Fifth Sacred Thing, since they know any outright war would annihilate them. The enemy uses Slave Mooks, so they invite them straight into the city, letting them see the freedom, abundance, and equality they could have if they joined them. Even after they kill protesters and lock down the city, they continue, using psychological warfare to break down the soldiers' programming as well as searching for a cure for the drug that keeps them reliant on the Stewards. In the end, while they can't free all of them, they get enough to turn and enough to doubt for the enemy army to shatter and be forced to retreat.
  • Used interestingly in Galaxy of Fear: Army of Terror. The heroes find the Eppon, apparently a year old, and carry him off with Tash and Zak happily planning to adopt him. They recruit some Rebel soldiers to help carry him, and he eats them one by one when no one can see, growing larger and older-looking all the time but still being sweet and loving to Tash and Zak. When the Big Bad arrives Eppon obeys his commands, but later Tash appeals to him through the Force. It works, but the Big Bad had implanted a bomb in his head and uses it.
  • Prof. Marius, the Tall, Dark, and Snarky teacher of Edgewood Academy, from The Princess 99 manages to defuse the tykebomb in question (here Axel) before the entire school gets destroyed.
  • The Red Vixen attempted this with Alinadar after capturing her. The results were mixed. Ali ends up better socialized, but until she formed a relationship with Sallivera, she still mostly saw herself as a slave to be commanded.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: Miles Vorkosigan starts this job with his clone-brother Mark in Brothers in Arms. His parents, especially his mother Cordelia, pick up the job in Mirror Dance.
    • Technically more of a Thicker Than Water, as in Betan society cloning is a perfectly valid form of reproduction, and as such Mark is a Long-Lost Relative.
      "Except that—I keep hearing my mother's voice, in my head. That's where I picked up that perfect Betan accent, y'know, that I use for Admiral Naismith, I can hear her now."
      "And what does she say?" Galeni's brows twitched in amusement.
      "Miles—she says—what have you done with your baby brother?!"
      • The last line gets a Call-Back from Elena in Mirror Dance, explaining why she's helping someone she initially mistrusts.
    • And Kareen Koudelka seems to have happily picked up where Cordelia leaves off, although Kareen and Mark do meet in Mirror Dance. By A Civil Campaign, the two have gone into business together.
  • Warchild Series: Cairo Azarcon was captured as a child by Big Bad Falcone, and raised as a Tyke-Bomb. He's found and rescued in his late teens by a Space Marine. It takes a few years, but Azarcon eventually assimilates into EarthHub society...well, more or less.

    Live Action TV 
  • 24 surprisingly let this work, rather than forcing Jack to kill a child soldier.
  • In Angel the title character tries to do this for Connor, with some success. However, Connor quickly develops other reasons for them not to get along, and in any case never fully gets over his prejudice against Angel. At least, not until the season 4 finale when Angel retcons everyone's memories to give Connor a life with a normal, loving family. Even in season 5, when his original memories are restored, the experience has given him a much greater sense of stability and grounding, so by the end of the series he's patched things up with his real father.
  • The Doctor in Doctor Who defuses Melody Pond in "Let's Kill Hitler". Given that Doctor Who is a show with Time Travel as its core premise, the Doctor already knows where Melody's life ends up, while Melody hasn't yet met the Doctor face-to-face.
  • Kamen Rider Build: Sawa turns out to be a Nanba child, a Child Soldier of a weapon tycoon. She was originally sent to infiltrate the nascita gang, but hanging out with them started to wear on her programming and yearn for a real family.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Det. Amaro tries to talk down an armed tween psychopath holding a child hostage. Good thing he was wearing a vest.
  • Literally in NCIS: Los Angeles with a child raised to be a suicide bomber. They already had an "in" since the first thing the kid does after seeing his brother die is find a safe place to detonate.
  • In the second season of Orphan Black, Helena overcomes her Laser-Guided Tyke-Bomb upbringing and gravitates towards Reformed, but Not Tamed as she and her long lost sister Sarah Manning become Fire-Forged Friends.
  • Odo attempts this with a newborn Jem'Hadar on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. His attempts to raise the fast-growing child to be more empathetic and less violent fail because the Founders are just that good at manipulating them on the genetic level. The fact that everyone else treated him as a threat and/or potential lab specimen may have undermined Odo's efforts though.
    • Technically, almost any attempt to talk down a Jem'Hadar throughout the series would count as this since most of them don't live past 12. They grow to their full adult size practically overnight once they are "born" and are ready to go into battle within days. The only times anyone even comes close to succeeding is if the Jem'Hadar consider them a Worthy Opponent. The only reason Odo was able to have any success at all is that he's a Founder himself, and thus the Jem'Hadar are genetically predisposed to see him as a god.
  • In The Walking Dead, a flashback reveals that Michonne and Daryl encountered a group of these. Michonne tries to talk them down, promising them a better life, and that they'll be cared for in their group. The kids are so broken by this point that they still try to kill Michonne, Judith, and the unborn RJ, forcing Michonne to kill all of them in self-defense.

    Visual Novels 
  • Attempted in two routes of Fate/stay night with Ilya and, to an extent, Saber. It doesn't work in the first until after she's been defeated, at which point she realizes Shirou really does care. In the second, they get along much better and the defusing is therefore much more successful.
    • Shirou trying to convince Saber she can think of herself as a woman as well as a king can come under this, if she weren't 30.

    Webcomics 
  • The Order of the Stick has a variant with the Monster in the Darkness and the paladin O-Chul. While MitD may be a monster of unknown origin, it has the personality of a child and O-Chul forms an Odd Friendship with it while he's imprisoned by the Big Bad.

    Web Original 
  • Mary in Twig was grown to be a single-use assassination weapon against the parents of the original Mary. When the Lambs encounter her, however, Sylvester observes that she's incredibly lonely due to a lack of affection from her creator and fellow assassins and offers her a place with them, and as a team effort the other Lambs work to make sure she's comfortable and happy working with them. She still kills people, but since she's no longer treated as a disposable weapon she's largely content and often enjoys the challenge of figuring out how to both get the job done and not die in the process.
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    Western Animation 
  • Danny Phantom has Danny telling his Opposite-Sex Clone that Vlad is merely using her as a tool instead of the daughter she thinks she is to him. She obviously doesn't believe this and spends most of the episode in deep denial, attacking him and the like to prove otherwise. Since Vlad is the series' Big Bad, Danny is right. Danielle manages to have a change of heart as a result and works alongside him.
  • Justice League has Ace, a young girl who can drive people insane with a glance, and then her power grows until she's a full-on Reality Warper. Unfortunately, in "Epilogue" her power causes an aneurysm to develop in her brain—if she dies while she's using her powers, the psychic backlash could kill everyone within miles. Amanda Waller gives Batman a weapon to kill her, but he tosses it aside and gently talks her down instead, sitting with her until she dies.
  • Rick and Morty: In "Raising Gazorpazorp", Morty Jr. has a Heel Realization upon seeing just how far Morty is willing to go in order to defend him despite the horror he's wrought.
  • Samurai Jack: Season 5 has Ashi, one of the Daughters of Aku assassins raised from birth solely to kill Jack. When he manages to capture her, he takes pity and dedicates himself to breaking her free of her indoctrination. It works, and she becomes his traveling companion and partner.
  • Teen Titans: After a season's worth of internal conflict, Terra ultimately turns against Slade after he forcibly hijacks her body, fighting back and burying him in a lava flow.
  • In Transformers: Animated, Ratchet combines awesome and heartwarming to do this to Omega Supreme the moment he wakes up, rejecting the Elite Guard's role for him as master of a mindless Person of Mass Destruction.
    Omega Supreme: I am Omega Supreme. I am yours to command. I am your pupil. Your dependent. Your obedient servant.
    Ratchet: I am Ratchet. I am... your friend.
  • X-Men: Evolution: As a teacher in this continuity, Wolverine frequently plays this role to the students whenever they start struggling with their powers or other problems, as he's been down that road himself. He most notably plays this role towards Rogue.
  • From Young Justice (2010):
    • Robin, Aqualad, and Kid Flash all take turns at trying to defuse Superboy. It works, but it takes him most of the season to fully recover.
    • Throughout the third season, Terra suffers from increasingly Conflicting Loyalties due to how the Outsiders welcome her with open arms. It eventually turns out that the heroes were secretly aware that she was The Mole the whole time, and were aiming for this from the start. They succeed.


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