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Enfant Terrible
aka: Enfante Terrible

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The cutest homicidal maniac this side of Quahog.

"A little child, she was. But also a fierce killer... Now capable of the ruthless pursuit of blood, with all a child's demanding."
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The Enfant Terrible is an adorable child. An angel, one might say, with a cherubic face. One just wants to pick them up and hug them.

But they're dangerous. An Enfant Terrible knows people think they're cute, and will use that to their advantage. When one person finds out, said hero usually has a hard time convincing others, who will turn on them for even suggesting such a thing about the poor, poor child.

An Enfant Terrible may be supernatural, or simply a child born without a conscience. They may also be a Self-Made Orphan.

A form of the Devil in Plain Sight. Might overlap with Girl Scouts Are Evil, if they do more than just sell you cookies, and with Kids Are Cruel, if the kid's behaviour also transpires in his relationship to other children. Akin to the Creepy Child, except Enfants Terribles are truly dangerous and vicious at heart, whereas a Creepy Child isn't necessarily psychopathic or evil.

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Of course, such a character almost always plays the Wouldn't Hurt a Child and Children Are Innocent cards to get away with their actions, which almost always works—for a while. They're unlikely to be directly killed by any heroic character in the story, but they have a habit of becoming Self Disposing Villains.

Virtually defenseless in a direct physical battle and hindered by their undeveloped bodies, Enfants Terribles with no super powers are usually obliged to operate by proxy. Thus, Corruption by a Minor is often their favourite technique to get what they want.

Sub-Trope of Superior Successor (assuming it's unusual).

See also Undead Child and Evil Orphan, which are common subtypes. Often the nemesis of a Kid Hero. Not related to Child Soldier but the two can overlap.

Compare Tyke-Bomb, Little Miss Badass, Cute Is Evil, Fetus Terrible, Cute and Psycho, Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon. Contrast with Psychopathic Manchild, where an already-grown psycho behaves like a child. Contrast Goo Goo Godlike, in which the child is not evil, just playful and way too powerful. See also Teens Are Monsters, the aggregate adolescent equivalent of this trope.

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Not to be confused with Les Enfants Terribles, which instead both fall under Tyke-Bomb.

It is sufficient to say that psychopathy manifests itself from a very young age, and there is some Truth in Television in this trope. However, any specific Real Life examples...no, thanks.


Examples:

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    Asian Animation 
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, the wolves are the villains and are generally loathed by the goats for wanting to eat them. Angelalily, the daughter of Wolnie's cousin Fragrant Wolf, is young enough that she is just entering school for the first time and has already caught upwards of 100 goats. (Mind you, this may not be considered so bad for the wolves, since they just want something to eat, but seeing a child wolf trying to capture goats would be a bit concerning for the goats themselves - especially since both species are Funny Animals in this show.)

    Music 
  • Chief Keef, full stop.
  • The previous page-quote, "The Curse of Millhaven", by Nick Cave and his aptly-named backup band, The Bad Seeds, is about a 14-year-old mass murderer, who drowns the neighbour's kid, burns down property, decapitates the handyman (with the circular saw in his garden shed), stabs an old lady to death, and is directly responsible for a class of children drowning, but did not Crucify the Dog. Nothing odd about the mass murdering, especially on an album like Murder Ballads, but it just goes to show- even a cute, blonde-haired small-town girl can be evil to the core.
    Since I was no bigger than a weevil
    They've been saying I was evil
    That if bad was a boot then I'd fit it
    That I'm a wicked young lady
    but I've been trying hard lately
    Aw, fuck it. I'm a monster, I admit it.
    The band references two earlier examples
    Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds have an album called "The Good Son".
  • Independent L.A.-based band Creature Feature has a song called "Such Horrible Things," which follows the birth, life, various horrors, and final institutionalization of an unnamed psychotic individual whose deeds include but aren't limited to:
    • Pouring super glue into his father's hair at the age of two.
    • Attempting to leave a "friend" in the woods to die at age six.
    • Burning down his family's house at the age of eight because he hated the color of the place.
    • And at fourteen "there was that one time" which, on the actual song, is conveyed only by a musical interlude and lots of screaming.
  • Edge of Sanity's "Crimson II" is about a demonic child born to a nun who read a cursed book. The child can read minds and kill victims by projecting "images too hideous for human minds to bear".
  • Cruella de Ville's song "Those Two Dreadful Children" details an allied pair of Enfants Terribles:
    We've got a sense of humor but we haven't any cares.
    Oh how I had to laugh when we kicked granny down the stairs.
    On our tippy-toes we crept right up where she was standing,
    And the tears ran down my face as she lay bleeding on the landing.
    And when we called out "Mama! Quick! We think our granny's dying!"
    And when Mama came a-running we pretended to be crying.
    We said "We saw her trip"; they couldn't tell that we were lying
    And since Granny was unconscious she was doing no denying!
    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.
  • And to top that, "The Cat Is Dead" by The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo (the predecessor group to the better-known Oingo Boingo), gleefully delineates the actions of a trio of psychopathic children:
    The cat is dead, the cat is dead,
    And Mikey too, and Uncle Fred
    Expiring oh so suddenly while sipping down some tea.
    The tea was hot, the tea was nice
    With strychnine and a little spice
    To cover up the funny taste
    Of our conspiracy.
    When Grandpa saw what we had done
    He went straight for his hunting gun.
    But we were quick, we stole the clip;
    The rest is history.
    To make sure Grandma wouldn't flee
    We gave her a lobotomy
    And now she's just as happy as can be.
  • Tom Lehrer's "The Irish Ballad", from Songs by Tom Lehrer.
    About a maid I'll sing a song
    Sing rickety-tickety-tin
    About a maid I'll sing a song
    Who didn't have her family long
    Not only did she do them wrong
    She did ev'ry one of them in, them in
    She did ev'ry one of them in
  • "That's My Boy" by Stan Freberg, a smarmy Parental Love Song about a son whose most endearing habits include setting the mailman on fire and pouring acid on the rug.
  • "Tug-O-War Intestines" by Skinless, involving a pair of kids playing schoolyard games with the internal organs of a car crash victim. One who made it to the hospital. Not to mention that said victim reveals it's his own grandkids who've torn him apart to use his guts for playthings.
  • Pretty Little Girl by The Pine Box Boys, The Poet reminisces about a time he peered through a fence to watch the eight-year-old neighbor girl having a tea party with another neighbor, who she poisons and drags into the cellar.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Older Than Feudalism: the Greeks had Zeus, whose mother saved him from being eaten by his father Cronos (trying to avoid Karmic Death for overthrowing his father); Zeus then served up some nasty poison to Cronos while posing as a servant; his son Hermes tops this by stealing a herd of Apollo's cattle almost as soon as he was born and then sweet-talking his way out of being punished for said theft (and, on top of that, killing one of the cattle as a sacrifice to himself).
  • Kullervo, of course, in The Kalevala.
  • Jesus, according to the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, which is most likely Gnostic heresy. When Jesus was five years old and making sparrows out of clay while collecting and purifying a bowl of water, a boy comes and drains the water out of the bowl, then Jesus curses the boy to dry up, and he dies. Later on, a boy runs by Jesus and bumps Him on the shoulder, and Jesus curses that boy, and he also dies. When the parents of the children Jesus killed come to Jesus' parents and complain about the situation, Jesus causes those parents to go blind.
  • A way to square the incident with the bears with Elisha's many acts of compassion and pity is to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was dealing with a violent juvie gang (and that this would have been clear to readers of the time).

    Podcasts 
  • Comedy Bang Bang has the recurring character played by Bobby Moynihan named Fourvel, introduced in episode 150, who is a seemingly innocent young orphan who is actually a murderous psychopath who's prone to getting "a little stabby".
    • Also there's JJ and Murphy O’Malaman, introduced in episode 355, a pair of incestuous kid detectives who murdered and flayed their own mother.

    Radio 
  • The Child from the Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama The Holy Terror. The child in question is a five-year-old boy who has been imprisoned in a dungeon ever since he was born so he would grow up untainted by the world, divine and all-powerful. His first few scenes confirm that he's all-powerful alright and that he's a dyed-in-the-wool sadist.
    Do you think I'll be the best torturer in the world? Do you think my father will be proud of me? WELL? WILL MY DADDY BE PROUD?
  • In the radio adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Hyde's evil emerged in Jekyll at a very young age, terrifying his parents and peers.

    Roleplay 
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, both Arawn and Yurius were truly horrible even when they were still young. Yurius gleefully set people on fire, and Arawn massacred his foster family as well as plenty of other people who annoyed him but still had the nerve to act innocent in order to fool the mages investigating the murders.
  • Survival of the Fittest:
    • Kimmy Redmond, a girl who has the look of somebody five years her junior, complete with carrying a lollipop around. A unicorn lollipop. She also has very few compunctions about causing harm to her classmates. Although it hasn't happened yet, it's very likely this will transfer to killing them too. ( It didn't, but she tried.)
    • A more accurate example of this trope is 12-year-old prodigy Brandon Cuthbert, who, before the game, sliced up various woodland creatures for experiments. This carries over to when he dissects the former featherweight boxing champion of the world with a box cutter after suffocating him to unconsciousness with an X-box controller. He seems to show some remorse for his actions right before his death at the hands of Sera Wingfield though.
  • Open Blue features Remillia, which deploys Tyke-Bomb special forces known as Angels. They begin active duty at the age of 13, and the younger ones tend to use their age to fool targets of their assassinations. Senseless Violins are just one of their many weapons.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In World of Darkness: Innocents, where the player characters are children, a character who hits zero on the Karma Meter becomes one of these. They aren't necessarily evil, but they have absolutely no empathy or conscience. As the book puts it, they'll probably end up institutionalized.
    • The New World of Darkness game Changeling: The Lost includes Fetchspawn, one of the options for the children of the fake people that the Gentry leave to replace Changelings. They have no Karma Meter. They have no empathy. Most people just assume they're autistic because of their total inability to relate to other human beings on an emotional or social level. They tend to kill things just because. This is all exacerbated by the fact that their touch automatically opens all doors, springs all locks, they cannot be bound or imprisoned, and people tend to ignore them, so they're able to slip around without notice. They are immune to Changeling superpowers, and their touch drains the Lost of magical energies. Oh...and did we mention that at the age of 21 they get sucked back into the Hedge, likely to become Gentry themselves?
  • In Mage: The Ascension, widderslaint were reincarnated Nephandi (mages who were evil because of their malformed souls, or whose souls were malformed by their evil). Even before their awakening as mages, they're irredeemably evil (the fiction introducing them describes an infant crawling into his twin brother's crib to strangle him to death, then falling asleep hugging the corpse like a teddy bear).
  • The Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 manual Heroes of Horror, incidentally, introduces a template called Unholy Scion, which is a creature whose soul has been substituted with a demonic/devilish/evil essence while still in the womb. Already at birth, the resulting child holds his/her/its own mother in thrall through evil power alone and gains terribly destructive powers as it grows in Hit Dice. Oh, and it is so evil that its merest touch can grievously harm good-aligned characters.
  • There is a sequel to Cyberpunk 2020 called Cyber Generation, where the Edgerunners of CP2020 have mostly been either killed or grown complacent by buying cushy corpjobs with retirement, leaving the rebellion to their children. It's very possible to play this kind of character in this game, especially if your character is a type of YoGanger referred as a Beaver Brat. Beaver Brats mostly come from suburban areas and specialize in talking their way out of trouble by convincing adults that there has been a big misunderstanding and they couldn't possibly have done it.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, the card Blood Bairn depicts a vampiric child who has just killed two travelers.

    Theatre 
  • Mary Tilford from The Children's Hour is a malicious girl who tells a lie about her two teachers just to get out of going to school. She then blackmails another girl into saying she started the lie, pulls the other girl's arm out of its socket (albeit accidentally), and steals some jewelry.
  • Kerchak falsely believes this of a young Tarzan in the stage version of the 1999 Disney film, when he comes upon the child fashioning a spear.
  • In the 2013 adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mike Teavee is upgraded from the Spoiled Brat of the book to this. The reason his mother allows electronic media — i.e. Shoot 'em Up video games — to babysit him is because it's the only thing that he enjoys that doesn't result in actual destruction and injury to those around him. Otherwise, he's setting a cat on fire, chloroforming a nurse, stealing a German tank, etc. "[T]he authorities request/That little Mike not leave the house", she explains, and all the adults in his life seemed too cowed by what he might do to them to attempt more than token efforts to discipline him. Poor Mrs. Teavee has become a Type A Stepford Smiler in response to all this. It's telling that he didn't find his Golden Ticket, but rather managed to hack into the Wonka Factory computers and get one without having to buy a Wonka Bar — and he does it just because he can, not because he wants to see the factory. With all this in mind, and unlike in other versions, his mom is quite happy when he is reduced to a few inches tall...
  • Orin Scrivello's Villain Song in Little Shop of Horrors details how he enjoyed torturing animals as a child, which led his mother to push him toward a career in dentistry: "People will pay you to be inhumane!"

    Visual Novels 
  • Ilyasviel Von Einzerbern of Fate/stay night is the Token Mini-Moe of the cast... but is also a ruthless Master with a Nigh-Invulnerable force of insane destruction as her Servant.
  • Dahlia Hawthorne from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations was a prime example of this trope before she had even committed her first murder. When she was just fourteen, she staged a fake kidnapping with her boyfriend Terry and stepsister Valerie in order to get revenge on her father by forcing him to give up a precious jewel, and then got Terry put on death row by faking her own death, with him as the only suspect. Of course, Valerie wasn't much better, but Dahlia was the one who came up with the plan in the first place, and again, she was only fourteen. And she later killed her stepsister.
  • The Warriors of Hope in Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls. All of them are around 10-11 years old, and they're killing every adult in Towa City. Special mention goes to Monaca Towa, for deceiving all the other Warriors of Hope into almost committing suicide and, at the end of the game, taking over as the successor to Junko Enoshima. The fanbase doesn't call the kid Pickle Satan for nothing.
  • Maria Ushiromiya from Umineko: When They Cry isn't one normally, but she definitely was one when she became a witch in the 4th arc and repeatedly killed her own mother. Though this is implied to either be All Just a Dream or an Indulgent Fantasy Segue, it definitely says something about her troubled relationship with her mother. In Bernkastel's game during the 8th arc, it's stated with the purple truth that Maria is incapable of directly murdering anyone, furthering the implication that while Maria might entertain thoughts of killing people in order to cope, she wouldn't be able to pull it off in real life.

    Web Animation 
  • Many/most of the kids from Childrin R Skary [1] fit this.
  • The Most Popular Girls in School:
    • Mikayla is just as bratty and malicious as her teenage sisters. She even threatened to throw Mackenzie's little sister down a flight of stairs.
    • Brittnay was also very bitchy and violent in the Third Grade. Becoming friends with Mackenzie has put her a bit more under control.

    Web Comics 
  • Noblesse has Kalvin & Regis. Kalvin is an Enhanced Human assassin who specializes in poison. Regis, while 199 years old, is still a child in both appearance & by the standards of his species, & while a good guy, he spends a considerable amount of time trying to kill people.
  • Ruby Gem in Monsterful: She's plain open evil, especially with her mother Diamond. On recent chapters, her evilness has evolved to the point of sacrificing virgins and wanting to gut her teacher like a fish.
    • On the Monsterful 2010 Xmas Special, Ruby wanted to kill Santa because he brought her coal, not really a shocker.
  • Eerie Cuties: Chapter 9 introduced Tia Darkness, a pint-sized demoness who may be older than she appearsnote . She soon established herself as an antagonist, by using her powers to severe friendships so she can feed of the victims' misery. By the same token, kindness and happiness weakens her, to the point of making her physically ill. So in all likelihood, she has to sow discord in order to sustain her existence.
  • In 8-Bit Theater, The Onion Kid is mistaken for this after the deaths of his family and several foster families afterward. Black Mage did it in reality.
    • BM might have been one of them but we don't know if he was cute (we can guess he was not though)
  • Megaweapon from Far Out There certainly acts the part (and the things we only hear about are even worse).
  • Slippery Weasel of Frog Raccoon Strawberry is an incredibly evil wizard who is still in diapers.
  • In The Order of the Stick:
    • Elan's Evil Twin Nale was a jerk even as a baby, complete with an evil goatee. Baby Nale would constantly Dope Slap poor Elan's soft undeveloped baby skull, which is why Elan is The Ditz.
    • Xykon was far more depraved as a child, having murdered his own parents with a zombie at the age of 12.
  • In True Villains, Bayn Pheonix and Mia Jalek are both children that work for an evil demon. Bayn is a more direct example — he fights alongside the demon and his minions. Mia builds golems that fight in her stead. Neither of them is quite a straight example, though: Bayn was an old (evil) man who was severely aged down, while Mia is a genuinely kind, sweet girl trying to help out her friends... who happen to be, well, villains.
  • Awful Hospital: Baby Heads Worm. Not only did it try to attack Fern and Celia, but it also succeeded in killing JBE 12837.
  • Guilded Age: Taro Iwatani.
  • Apparently normal to some extent for Homestuck's trolls. Backstabbing and mutilating each other is rife among troll kids, and Eridan and Gamzee went on killing sprees at the equivalent age of thirteen.
    • One thing a lot of readers forget until the killing sprees begin is that Vriska and Eridan had already murdered countless other troll kids and their guardians, prior to the game. A Million Is a Statistic, except when it's not.
    • As soon as Calliope and Caliborn's personalities split, Caliborn became an insufferable little brat whose first act was to bite into his adoptive father Gamzee's shoulder. He only gets worse with age.
  • The webcomic/video series Contemplating Reiko stars the daughter of Satan and her three older sisters, who tend to do a lot of terrible things including murder (this is especially the case with the titular Reiko).

    Web Original 
  • Bonesaw, from Worm. A pre-teen Mad Doctor with the personality of a five-year-old. She has one Hell of a Freudian Excuse, though; she was forced to heal her dying family. Over and over and over again, until she was too tired to continue. After such, Jack, the man who killed her family, took her in, and Bonesaw followed the last request of her mother to 'be good' by putting on the superficial mask of a cheerful, well-behaved child while using her powers the way Jack wanted in order to stay alive.
  • The Mwa Mwa Penguins you can find at the Pet Shop in Club Penguin embody this trope.
  • Within the world of Magical Girl Hunters, some of the magical girls joined to save the world. Some just like the excuse to kill stuff. Captain Kawaii... shudder
  • DeviantArt:
    • Toki-Doki Rose (or Rose, for short) What'd she do back in Tokyo that would've landed her imprisonment had her mother not have left within 24-hours of them finding out? Well, she piloted a mecha-bot, destroyed half of Tokyo, and injured 200 people, making her far worse than her mother before her, something that got her compared to Stewie Griffin. Also, like Stewie, she is completely aware of what she is doing and she is about one. In fact, the vignette involving her secret is named "Infant Terrible".
    • Madgie, to a lesser extent or heavier one, in light of recent stories.
  • On Roger Ebert's website, he once posted a letter from a female reader who noted that it would be possible to save any number of mediocre movies by adding a scene at the very end which showed an otherwise normal looking child whose eyes suddenly glow. The example she used was the movie Volcano.
  • From Killerbunnies, we have Malou, Visceraline, Snow, Atlasnaya, and Creamline and they seem to have a fairly messed up view of the world and enjoy doing fairly harmful things. Although, in Snow and Atlasnaya's case, this is fairly justified, seeing that they've only known violence and thus act they see fit, although the same cannot really be said for Malou, Visceraline, and Creamline.
    • As a child, Computer Virus was this or starting out that way.
    • According to their profile, Hattie is this.
    • Corrine "Cori" Andrews is a serial arsonist with several counts under her belt.
    • There is also Frankie, who ran a meth lab when she was four, caused an explosion in the family's basement when she was five, poisoned a cousin with chemicals, and used pets as test subjects, the none of which survived. Apparently, she likes to look for guinea pigs.
  • In Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: The Game - The Movie, Billy Punks' father takes pride in the fact that he attacks Jekyll unprovoked with a slingshot.

    Web Videos 
  • As part of the Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog DVD release, "L'enfant Terrible" was one of the chosen winners for the Evil League of Evil Application contest. The application video can be seen here.
  • By all appearances, Ness and Lucas look cute. Too bad that in There Will Be Brawl, they're murderers who tore the organs out of two mob bosses, a policeman, a Pokémon, and Princess Peach. Even Ganondorf was scared of them.
  • Jonathan in Robert Glickert's "The Descendent". Also Mugging the Monster.
  • Bedtime Stories (YouTube Channel) has an episode that covers the so-called Black-Eyed Children, mysterious kids with black eyes that are said to inflict psychological and physical pain to anyone that stares into their eyes for a given amount of time.


 
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Alternative Title(s): Enfante Terrible, Enfants Terribles

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Bart setting his dad's tie on fire at only ten minutes old.

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