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Innocent Prodigy

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"As I stand here tonight far from home, I am reminded of the words from Jeremiah, 'Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope for the future, says the Lord, and your children shall come back to their own country.' Incidentally, have any of you ever been told about 'The Great Pumpkin'?"
Linus Van Pelt, Peanuts

A young, but incredibly bright child whose high intellect comes with rather large doses of naivete. They seem incredibly deep at times, but they have moments where their innocence reminds the audience (and the other characters) that they're still a child.

Truth in Television, since intelligence and maturity are not the same thing, and real-life prodigies typically have emotional maturity better fitting their actual age than their intellectual level.

Compare Child Prodigy, Adorably Precocious Child, Skilled, but Naive, Ditzy Genius. Contrast Acting Your Intellectual Age, Kiddie Kid and Wise Beyond Their Years. See also Ping Pong Naïveté.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Chiyo Mihama from Azumanga Daioh is a highly intelligent Child Prodigy who starts high school at only ten years old and aces test after test, but she keeps failing miserably to understand mature stuff any teenage schoolgirl would already know by heart. The epitome of this may be her understanding nothing of Nyamo's (to everyone else) extraordinarily uncomfortably detailed drunken sex-ed lesson.
  • Negi Springfield of Negima! Magister Negi Magi is a ten-year-old genius mage who often acts a fair bit older than his age, but is inexperienced with life in general and particularly romance. Sometimes his young age peeks through; for example, when he gets his hands on a Time Machine, his immediate thought is a desire to go back in time to see dinosaurs, and he's crestfallen when told the Time Machine doesn't have that kind of range.
  • Naruto: While this trope is mostly averted, with most prodigies either being jerks or having several screws loose (such as Orochimaru, Nagato, Kakashi Hatake, Neji Hyuga, Sasuke Uchiha and Boruto Uzumaki), it is played straight with Minato Namikaze and Itachi Uchiha: they were the best students the Ninja Academy ever had (Minato was the best, and Itachi was the second best) and were peace-loving individuals. It respectively took war and the threat of a coup d'état for them to show their more ruthless side, and not without pressure, especially on Itachi's side.
    • Boruto's sister Himawari also plays it straight — she may not know what she wants to do in life, but she already shows great promise as a shinobi in her trial for entering Ninja Academy.
  • Shinra Sakaki from C.M.B., also Touma from Q.E.D.. Hell, Motohirou Katou loves this trope.
  • Hiiragi from Hanamaru Kindergarten is very intelligent and knowledgeable for her age but still enjoys children's activities such as going down slides and playing dress-up.
  • While whether Hiroki Sawada of Detective Conan Film 06: The Phantom of Baker Street wanted to reset Japan is debatable, the ten-year-old MIT graduate does want to play with the other kids.
  • Rebecca Miyamoto from Pani Poni Dash! is an MIT graduate and a teacher at age ten. Doesn't stop her from throwing tantrums or hiding behind things whenever she gets scared or upset.
  • Alice from ARIA, though her more childish moments are quite few and far between.
  • Diamond from Pokémon Adventures. He likes to eat and watch robot anime (singing its theme tune in an attempt to bolster his confidence when he's scared), but he is shown to be very thoughtful and sensitive at times — he's associated with Mesprit, the legendary Pokemon of emotion, and delivers heartfelt speeches that convince legendaries to fight alongside him.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Edward Elric and his little brother Alphonse gained incredible alchemical power while too young to use it wisely, and ended up performing human transmutation. The result left them much less innocent in the present-day.
  • The Professor from Nichijou can make highly advanced robots and a device that lets animals speak like humans, but aside from that she usually acts like a completely normal eight-year-old girl with typical childish interests and a short attention span. One robot, Nano, basically acts as a parental figure to her, and the Professor likes to install strange and largely useless functions in her like a rocket-powered arm or a bean cannon just because she thinks it's funny. She also refuses to remove the wind-up key in Nano's back (which Nano resents since what she wants most is to pass as a human being) because she thinks it's cute.
  • Sengoku Collection:
    • Bokuden is a master swordsman and master of her own dojo. She's also a little girl who wants to spend time playing with her friends.
    • Episode 23 gives us Tsunehisa Amago, a tactical and strategic genius at age four. She uses this genius to take over her daycare's sandbox so she can create the biggest sandcastle ever.
  • Nico Robin of One Piece used to be one of these. She earned a Ph.D. in Archaeology at age 7. However, the innocence turned to PTSD when the World Government destroyed her home.
  • Snow White with the Red Hair: Ryuu may be a twelve-year-old herbalist prodigy who has managed to become a fully accredited pharmacist but he's still very much a twelve-year-old and shows a very innocent side when presented with the opportunity to climb a tree or participate in a snowball fight, both things he had never had the opportunity to do before. There's also his reaction when presented with emotionally straining situations which usually involves running to an adult he trusts to get them to intervene, hiding behind one of the aforementioned adults, or just running away and hiding. He makes a choice to become better about facing things himself when he's thirteen and is working on it.

    Comic Books 
  • When Tim Drake first approached Dick Grayson to ask him to return to acting as Robin since Bruce needed someone to balance out his self-destructive tendencies Tim's innocence and inability to understand just why Dick would find the idea unbearable reflect his age and relationship with his own parents despite his abnormal intelligence. The DCU then spends the next several years brutally beating any remaining naiveté and idealism out of him.

    Comic Strips 
  • Peanuts: Linus Van Pelt, Charlie Brown's best friend, and the former Trope Namer. He has great insight into some situations and a very high intellect such as being able to precisely quote any passage of Biblical scripture, but he also believed in the Great Pumpkin, which brought him ridicule despite his intelligence. And he hates to be separated from his beloved blue blanket.
    • As an infant it was even worse. As Charlie Brown struggled to balance one card on top of two others to start a house of cards, Linus used the rest of the cards to make a Gothic cathedral.
  • Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes waxes philosophical about the nature of the his stuffed tiger. While pretending to be a space cadet. Or a superhero. Or a jungle explorer. Or a private eye. Or a dinosaur. Lampshaded by Calvin's mother in a punchline, "How can one kid be so smart and yet so dumb at the same time?"
  • Mafalda's greatest concerns are: the terrible ordeal of the starving kids in Biafra, the permanent tensions between USA and the Soviet Union, the armed conflicts in the Third World, and Mom's terribly hideous soup.
  • Sheldon from U.S. Acres has shades of this.

    Fan Works 

  • Gifted: Emotionally Mary is still seven, and her reactions to situations like finding out her father had been tracked down for the custody case but still didn't want to see her, or when Frank leaves her with the foster family remind the audience she is still very much a child. She is also seen reacting innocently on happier occasions, such as dancing with a family at the hospital for a birth or playing with friends in the Girl Scouts.

  • Charles Wallace Murray from A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels is truly a prodigy both in intellect and in wisdom. He doesn't seem to be quite as naive as most examples of this trope, however.
  • Discworld has a rodent version. Dangerous Beans is brilliant but by most of the other character's standards rather naive. However, the book clearly sympathizes with his idealistic views.
  • Elantris: Daorn and Kaise have elements of this. Brandon Sanderson says this snuck in as a mild criticism of Orson Scott Card's depictions of hyper-intelligent children in Ender's Game.
  • Haganai:
  • Temeraire is a dragon who manages to be this.
  • Mark Clifton's "Star Bright" has Star Holmes and Robert Howell, ultra-intelligent toddlers who invent a way to teleport themselves through time. They use this ability to play hide and seek. Star's father also tells us that Star's intelligence doesn't prevent her from enjoying dolls, fairytales and playing grownup.
  • Similar, yet twisted around slightly, by the Archive, Ivy, in The Dresden Files, as a young girl with all the written knowledge of history in her head. She writes her official notes in crayon, and while waiting to mediate a dispute between supernatural evil and fairies, wanders off to watch the otters play at the aquarium.
  • Tel from Of Fear and Faith isn't a child but fits the rest of the description, being incredibly sweet and innocent, while also being very perceptive and intelligent, especially where people are concerned.
  • Unlike her self-conscious, worrywart sister Aya, Nako of Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note is innocent Child Prodigy all the way into G.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Micah Sanders from Heroes. The audience first sees him fixing his laptop as he tells his mom, "The memory board's bad," and he can talk to machines. Yet Micah reads comic books religiously and uses them as a guide, making him something of a miniature Ascended Fanboy.
  • Shane at the start of Weeds shows aspects of this but has already lost a lot of innocence (part of the Back Story is that his 40-year-old father died of a heart attack right in front of him) and grows out of the last of it over the course of the first couple seasons.
  • Lex from Flight 29 Down.
  • Lost: The young Benjamin Linus who was definitely extremely intelligent and introspective and possessed the prerequisite dash of naivete, but very quickly lost his innocence due to his chronic abuse at the hands of his father, which eventually culminated to his seeking out the Others and starting him down his path of Affable Evilness and Magnificent Bastarddom.
  • Jill Petterson in the Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode "The Tale of the Final Wish" qualifies, with her superstitions and obsessions with fairy tales, as opposed to the other kids her age. Until her wishes come true in a bad way.
  • Franklin from My Wife and Kids. He is a genius, outsmarting pretty much the entire cast. But at the "where do babies come from" department, he still believes that pregnancy comes from plant seeds. Justified, since he was purposefully left out of Sex Ed classes.
  • The titular kid in Smart Guy was smart enough to be in high school as a ten-year-old, but can't sit through two minutes of sex-ed class without bursting out into uncontrollable laughter.
  • Henry from Once Upon a Time. He's a growing Guile Hero with more than a few doses of Genre Savvy and Good Is Not Dumb, but he talks about super-secret information at the local diner just because he's hungry and believes that fairy tales are real. He's right, of course, but his eagerness and willingness to believe in them definitely shows off his age of 10.
  • Played for laughs with Pitt the Younger in Blackadder the Third, who's elected Prime Minister right in the middle of his exams. On the one hand, he's a capable politician and matches Blackadder's political scheming with his own. On the other, he's still going through puberty, writes angsty poetry, and uses childish insults. And then taken to hilarious extremes when his brother Pitt the Even Younger runs for officenote .

    Video Games 
  • Miles "Tails" Prower of Sonic the Hedgehog fame is usually one of these. While some popular depictions stick solely with one extreme or the other. In Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and SatAM Tails is extremely childlike and not very bright, his intellect not being carried over from Japanese media to the west. In the games, he is the most soundly intelligent member of the team. He is a clear example of this trope in most of the franchise, including spin-off material such as Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie, Sonic X and Sonic Boom.
  • Final Fantasy IX:
    • Vivi Ornitier is physically nine years old and a very proficient Black Mage, but is also naïve and innocent.
    • Eiko, aged six, meanwhile, has been living on her own as Team Mom to a bunch of moogles. While she's clearly an incredible child (not to mention her white magic), she's very naive, due to her age and lack of interaction with adults.
  • Merrill from Dragon Age II. Though thoroughly educated and knowledgeable about magic, she's often extraordinarily naive about other things, especially social conventions. (She's an unusual example in that she's actually an adult, if an immature one; she's a Fish out of Water suddenly having to get along in a culture completely new to her.)
  • Crash Bandicoot's little sister, Coco, is a science wiz and noticeably more sane and intelligent than her ditzy older brother. She does often show a dorky or childish streak to remind us she is still of Crash's blood, however.
  • Hat Kid from A Hat in Time. She's a kid, of course, but she can maintain and pilot a spaceship by herself and beats up plenty of bad guys while collecting her Time Pieces. Everything else about her, though, betrays her innocence and childishness; from her voice clips to the fact that examining the microwave has her comment how she uses it to "punish food that has been bad".
  • Dragon Quest V has eight-year-old Madchen. Talented and knowledgeable mage capable of considerable insight, particularly when compared to her brother, and likely to become an experienced adventurer... while retaining her fear of heights and the dark, her naivety, and her childish innocence.
  • While Psychonauts' Razputin is unusually gifted as a psychic, he's just as rash and naive as any ten year old boy. This becomes especially apparent in Psychonauts 2, where his impulsivity and over-eagerness to get to the cool spy stuff leads to dangerously irresponsible decisions such as rewiring an agent's brain so she'll allow him to go on a casino mission (and giving her a gambling addiction in the process).
  • Clank in Ratchet & Clank (2002) falls into this, as he Really Was Born Yesterday and is still learning concepts like figure of speech, or that bad people masquerade as good people, but is still the thinker and ponderer to Ratchet's "run in and shoot the thing" mindset (to wit, his gameplay has a strong focus on puzzles with lighter combat). This aspect of his character disappears by the second game, and is downplayed in the Ratchet & Clank (2016) movie-game that retells the events of the 2002 game.

    Visual Novels 


    Web Animation 
  • Loose Ends has Maggie, Sammy's preschool-aged adopted daughter. She's an alien cyborg whose knowledge and abilities are seemingly limitless, but she's still not very good with logic, is very much a Daddy's Girl, is scared of monsters being in her closetnote , is excited by very simple things like seeing a whale, is prone to misunderstandings, and is overall just a sweet little girl who happens to be an alien cyborg.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons: Lisa Simpson, while Wise Beyond Her Years and one of the few Springfield citizens who isn't stupid, incompetent or just plain lazy, loves her Malibu Stacy doll more than anything else (except, perhaps, activism) and likes immature cartoons like "The Itchy and Scratchy Show." She also wants a pony and indulges in juvenile crushes on boys named Cory who are featured in Non-Threatening Boys Magazine. On some occasions, she'll happily join Bart's destructive antics. (Indoor bike jousting? Sure!)
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: Edd is depicted as a genius whose maturity makes him the Only Sane Man. Yet the nature of some of the show's more risque jokes often completely escapes him.
  • Time Squad: Otto is a child who has a fairly complete and detailed knowledge of all of history. He's also the Only Sane Man who often has to be on his own to solve a problem that a grown adult cop couldn't handle. And yet plays with action figures and colors in coloring books and the sexual tension between Larry and Tuddrussel goes right over his head.
  • The title characters from Phineas and Ferb, both of whom are creative and technical geniuses, but use their talents more for their own amusement than anything else. They also manage to regularly figure out the solutions to other characters' problems, while still maintaining an oddly childlike sense of naivete.
    • At least Once an Episode, somebody will ask Phineas if he and Ferb are too young to be doing whatever they're doing. Phineas always responds: "Yes, yes we are."
  • Stewie from Family Guy is the Evil Counterpart to this trope. He's a Wicked Cultured Evil Genius despite being barely a toddler and often almost as naive as you'd expect a child his age to be.
    Huh, this toy contains small parts. But why would they include small parts in a toy for someone my age...? Unless I'm supposed to eat them! Of course, it all adds up!
  • Froggo from Histeria! spends time providing the occasional historic narration and poetry reading when he isn't busy having lunch, playing video games, or working on his inventions.
  • Arguably Dib from Invader Zim. Usually a Straight Man spouting Cassandra Truths, there are nevertheless times when he shows a childlike optimism, especially around adults who seem to treat him nicely (such as Dwicky and, at times, his father).
  • Ike Brovlovsky from South Park has had a relationship with a teacher and was involved in a Government Conspiracy to elect Barack Obama. And yet, he's still in kindergarten and confuses Milan for a Disney film.
  • Kit Cloudkicker of TaleSpin a lot of times shows immense knowledge of flying and sometimes displays a lot more common sense than adult peers such as Baloo. However, he often displays a rather bratty overconfidence, and will not accept that he is still too young to actually fly himself.
  • Amberley of The Dreamstone has moments of this Depending on the Writer, she is mature enough to hold a stable job and manages to keep her head out the clouds a lot more than Rufus and even the Dream Maker at times, but has a very childish temper which sometimes leads her to go headfirst into dangerous situations.
  • Dexter of Dexter's Laboratory sometimes has elements of this. In one episode he sees a repair-man working on the house's electrical system, and after some failed attempts to find out what he's up to using technology, Dexter's Plan C turns out to be to run off to "mommy" and ask her who's the strange man messing around with the fuse box.
  • Chloe Park from We Bare Bears is only a child and is already in college. However, she is not Wise Beyond Her Years and doesn't think a lot of her actions through, not to mention being close friends with two Manchild bears and a mature yet socially awkward one.
  • Kaeloo: Quack Quack is a genius who can solve complex math problems inside his head in mere seconds and is a brilliant scientist, but he otherwise acts like the little kid he is - he's sensitive, naive and enjoys video games, comic books, and children's games.
  • Stickin' Around: Polly is incredibly intelligent, articulate, and well-educated despite being the youngest of the child characters by far, and yet in a darkly humorous twist of irony, she is completely unable to understand that her pet dog Pepperoni is dead and takes its corpse with her everywhere she goes.

Alternative Title(s): The Linus