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Recruit Teenagers with Attitude

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"Alpha, Rita's escaped! Recruit a team of teenagers with attitude!"
Zordon, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers opening

So the Big Bad has been unleashed, the rebellion needs more help over-throwing the evil empire, an Alien Invasion is destroying Planet Earth, a Zombie Apocalypse has begun, a deadly disease is spreading all over the world, or it's The End of the World as We Know It. Who do you get to help? A crack team of trained mercenaries? How about some expert martial artists? Maybe the existing peace-keeping forces such as the police or military? What about a team of super-scientists who have the required technology and mindsets to help stop the problem? How about an expert swordsman? Possibly a team of powerful superheroes who can stop the problem with their powers quick? Or how about a legendary warrior brought back from long ago?

No? Then how about those kids standing over there? Yeah?

Okay, cool, go for it.

This trope happens when, instead of getting qualified help from highly trained professionals, or at the very least, adults who are more likely to understand the risks associated with a possible life-or-death scenario, we're treated to a team of young people with little to no experience with whatever they're about to face and thrust into it head first. Often, the teens are given weapons or powers to defeat this threat, but are given little to no training with these things yet still come out on top. The story will likely give one reason or another for why they couldn't go with the above but out-of-universe demographic appeal is the chief reason.

This trope usually occurs in media aimed at kids and pre-teens, as that's the sort of audience who looks up to high schoolers as the pinnacle of human achievement, or at the very least are more relatable than some "crusty old" 30-somethings. Ironically, many such shows, if live-action, will invoke Dawson Casting and those "teenagers" won't really be teenagers anyway.

Many stories sometimes have a token teenager, or may even have a whole sub-cast of children, but this trope is for when most or all of the main cast are teens (or younger). So Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation wouldn't count here.

Similar to Ragtag Bunch of Misfits and Child Soldiers. Tangentially related Adults Are Useless. See also Summon Everyman Hero. Compare School Forced Us Together.

Contrast Teens Are Monsters, which instead focuses on the teenage characters being portrayed as villains or antagonists.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bokurano: The main characters were very young children, for a reason. It's stated that younger pilots are ideal because they provide more life energy than adults.
  • Combattler V: All Combattler team members who pilot the titular Combining Mecha but Kosuke are teenagers.
  • Sort of done all throughout Digimon, though they're more of the tween-age in most of the shows - all apart from Digimon Data Squad, which stars a Hot-Blooded street punk that's recruited by a secretive government organisation when he forms a partnership with and Agumon. It's played with in Digimon Tamers, as for a good chunk of the series the adults refuse to work with the kids and even at the end make several good arguments why using them as frontline soldiers is unethical.
  • In Dragon Ball, Dr. Gero tries doing this to defeat Son Goku, turning a runaway brother and sister into super-powered cyborgs. It doesn't end well. Averted in the case of his other androids, who were built from scratch.
  • The Eldoran series (Zettai Muteki Raijin-Oh, Genki Bakuhatsu Ganbaruger, Nekketsu Saikyo Gosaurer) does something like this, except that "teenagers" is replaced with "A class of elementary school kids".
  • Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA: At the start of the series, a ridiculously powerful magus decides to have teenagers Rin Tohsaka and Luvia Edelfelt collect the Class Cards using the Kaleidoscope Sticks that turn them into Magical Girls. It's not clear why he didn't have someone else do it; in fact, a competent adult was doing it, before the duty got taken from her and handed to Rin and Luvia instead. It seems there were political maneuverings going on behind the scenes. Deconstructed when Rin and Luvia prove to be so unstable, spending more time fighting each other than doing their jobs, that the Kaleidoscope Sticks abandon them and find other girls to empower instead. Pre-teens Illya and Miyu are left as the Magical Girls, with Rin and Luvia as their mentors.
  • Getter Robo, at least in the original continuity where the intented pilots are all killed.
    • Subverted in other continuities: The original Getter Robo pilots heroes are chosen because they are insane teenagers with attitudes.
  • Borderline in The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer; played straight for all the teenage characters - Yuuhi, Amamiya, Mikazuki, Tarou, and Hanako, but the age of all the Beast Knights ranges from primary schoolers to the 40-year-old detective Nagumo.
  • Mao-chan one-ups this. Due to publicity issues, Japanese military had to resort to getting a trio of ridiculously cute little girls to stop alien invasion. And make a television show about it. Somehow it worked.
  • Mazinger Z: Kouji and Sayaka (and Boss) are sixteen, and they pilot giant robots to save mankind. That said, Sayaka already had mecha pilot training, so she isn't a full case of this, Kouji is the only straight example, and Boss more or less just forced himself into the team (building his own mecha with his sidekicks) later on.
  • While Gundam often has its protagonists' crews and pilot teams full of teenagers because of emergency situations, other times they're chosen deliberately:
    • White Base in Mobile Suit Gundam are something of a passive example. A bunch of teenage refugees become the crew for advanced military vehicles simply because the intended personnel were killed, and they want to leave as soon as they could reach safe harbor. They prove so successful, the Federation effectively drafts them and uses White Base as a major military asset.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ: After the events of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam devastated the AEUG and Federation, Bright Noa and the Argama had no choice other than to recruit Judau and his barely teenage friends to be the primary force against Neo Zeon. Lucky for the Argama these kids proved to be powerful Newtypes.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: The scientists who developed the five Gundams also chose their pilots. All of them end up picking young men they encountered through various events. Youth wasn't a directly-desired trait, but the scientists were looking for independent people who'd follow their own moral compass instead of the incredibly-violent coup Operation Meteor was originally intended as.
    • The teenage characters in Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury spend most of the series attending a mobile suit development academy, not privy to the corporate intrigue surrounding them. However, near the end of the second cour, an inspector for the Space Assembly League recruits Suletta to stop her mother Prospera from wielding Quiet Zero because the mission requires using the GUND Format at an intensity no one else can survive (she's also a well-trained pilot, though not experienced in actual combat). Her friends at Earth House/GUND-Arm Inc end up tagging along. They succeed, after which the League tries to kill all of them.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: There is never an explanation for why only 14-year-olds can be pilots.note  While Rei and Asuka have been training to be pilots their whole lives and Kaworu is a Trojan horse, Shinji and Toji were plucked right off the street with no training.
  • Prétear. Granted, it's justified in the case of the Leafe Knights—they're literally born into the role and not exactly human, so they've been training for this their entire lives. Plus, the four older knights only look as if they're in their late teens or early twenties, but they're actually at least twice that. However, this trope is played completely straight in the case of the eponymous Magical Girl—Himeno is about 15, has no formal training besides an interest in martial arts (that she doesn't even seem to use in battle) and is completely mentally unprepared for her role as world savior. This is dealt with in-series during her constant battles with self doubt, as well as Takako/Fenrir's backstory—she was also a teen unprepared for battle, and focused obsessively on Hayate to give her the confidence to continue, which was why his rejection of her was so earth-shattering.
  • The Pretty Cure franchise does this virtually all the time. Yes! Pretty Cure 5 had Nozomi personally choose who was gonna be a Pretty Cure (with the general formula being that they would blow it off, new monster show up, realize she couldn't abandon the others, come back and become a Pretty Cure). HeartCatch Pretty Cure! is probably the only one who doesn't follow this formula.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Kyubey only recruits young and inexperienced teenage girls to fight the Witches. Most of the main characters are completely normal schoolgirls. Kyubey's true goal is to convert their despair into energy, suggesting he picks teenagers because they're more emotional and/or easier to manipulate. He mainly targets teens with serious emotional trauma—Mami, for example, was recruited right after a car accident killed her parents and left her mortally wounded—because they have more energy-generating potential (and are also more liable to make poorly thought out choices due to their situations).
  • Robot Taekwon V combines this with a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, and the Big Bad is defeated by a teenage boy, his Action Girlfriend and his friends.
  • Ronin Warriors: It was so bad that in the first episode they almost lost due to what was basically a pissing contest, and they spent the rest of the season paying for it.
  • Sailor Moon: It seems like all the girls are picked at random, but as it turns out, they're all Reincarnations of their old selves from the Silver Millenium.
  • Science Ninja Team Gatchaman: With the exception of Jinpei, all Gatchaman team's members are teenagers. In a scene of the 2002 comic-book series, Ken says that everybody expect that they act like immature teenagers but he won't give them the satisfaction of proving them right.
  • Purposefully invoked in 7 Seeds. The Teams are made up of people who were specifically chosen to be healthy, have no history of hereditary diseases, malformations or any kind of disadvantage like poor eyesight or similar, so they can repopulate the earth, meaning that majority of them are in their late teen-years with a few 20-year-old here and there, not counting the guides. Done on purpose by raising them that way with Team Summer A.
  • Tokyo Mew Mew seemed to pick 5 random girls who were just in the wrong place and wrong time. They just happened to have DNA that was compatible with the chosen animals.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • In the first season of Yu-Gi-Oh!, the kids were fighting for personal reasons. However, as the series went on, they got increasingly roped into "save the world" situations, despite being high school students. Justified, by the fact that Yugi, as the Chosen One and the world's best duelist in a world where card games can destroy worlds and damn souls, was often the only one qualified to deal with the situations and the rest of the gang got involved simply because of the Power of Friendship.
    • Played with in one episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V. Although the LDS trio is sent out as bait to catch a serial soul-stealer, it's because they've met him before and he's more likely to target them. Also, they spend the entire mission being watched by their superiors and the dialogue implies that the moment they found the criminal, an elite team of agents was sent to their location to capture him. The teenagers still get to duel the criminal, but only because they chose to engage him instead of stalling for time until help arrived.

    Comic Books 
  • Champions: Champions (2016) deals with this idea as Kamala Khan feels that today's heroes don't work as heroes anymore and there needs to be a new set of heroes to show them how it's done. It probably helps that she was an Avenger once along with Miles Morales and Sam Alexander.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (Boom! Studios) finally answers this. Zordon did try to recruit capable people with training but it didn't work out because they couldn't tolerate one another and got killed on the first mission despite their abilities. In the end, he decided it was easier to hire a group of friends willing to do the job and train them than to hire professionals and force them to bond despite unreasonable differences and prejudices. For more details on the full story, see the franchise's entry below under Live-Action TV tab. Oddly enough, it also serves as a straight Deconstruction of a couple of older Super Sentai shows that did subvert this trope, but completely glossed over the idea that they were originally complete strangers to each other before gathering, and in their first outing, functioned as if they had been an experienced team for the longest time.
  • Played straight, and extreme, in the Marvel comic Power Pack, which chronicles four pre-teen siblings who received their superpowers and world-saving mission from a dying alien. This was actually a subversion of the more typical adult, Serious Business superheroes of the time, and much of the humor since has come from contrasting them with heroes like Wolverine. Similar to the Animorphs situation, the alien was dying, the kids were there, and the alien didn't exactly have the option of going and getting the Marines.
  • The wizard Shazam grants the magic powers of the ancients to pure-hearted child Billy Batson, transforming him into the world's mightiest mortal, Captain Marv- er, I mean, Shazam!
  • Supergirl: An incredibly powerful sixteen-year-old (who was a ball of angst and anger issues before her Character Development) agrees to work for the DEO — a Government agency in charge of neutralizing alien threats — in Supergirl (Rebirth). Director Chase notes that her newest agent used to be out of control.
  • X-Men: Though in this case, the X-Men did receive combat training prior to their first mission. It bears mentioning that the team's youngest member was only 13. Justified in that mutant powers manifest at puberty, and Xavier started a school for "gifted youngsters" to train them in their potentially uncontrollable and deadly mutations.
    • In Ultimate X-Men, the team barely has time to be assembled and forced into tight leather pants before being sent to rescue a young mutant from 50-foot killer robots.
  • In W.I.T.C.H. both the current and the previous team of Guardians of Kandrakar were chosen as teenagers (Cornelia actually wonders why them). Justified because they were selected by the Heart of Kandrakar itself, a magical artifact that reasons in a different way than humans do and is implied to have selected the best five for the job out of the whole planet Earth—no matter their previous relationships (of the five, only Irma and Hay Lin are shown to be already friends when selected a year before the series) or where they lived (Will and Taranee are from two different cities, and the prequel issue shows the Heart's magic subtly leading to them moving to Heatherfield).
  • The Zodiac Starforce, who were all fourteen when they started out as magical girl warriors two years prior to the series' beginning. The first issue implies this will be deconstructed, as Emma points out that they experienced some fairly traumatic things and even witnessed the deaths of people close to them when they were fighting Cimmeria.

    Fan Works 
  • Advice and Trust: Shinji, Asuka, Rei and Hikari are fifteen-year-old mecha pilots. Asuka often complains that everybody demand that they act like mature adults when they are on duty... and at the same time Misato will not let Shinji and her sleep together because they are just teenagers.
  • Child of the Storm:
    • Subverted — Harry and his friends are a group of young teens who end up in phenomenally dangerous situations, but they tend to be either caught up in them entirely by accident or pretty much recruit themselves. Notably, their parents/parental figures are decidedly unhappy about this — and it has to be said that the kids aren't always that happy about it either. This would be because of the Body Horror, Trauma Conga Lines, and general Nightmare Fuel in the second book onwards, where this and the Kid Hero trope are thoroughly deconstructed. As a result, both Harry and Carol in particular are reluctant to involve kids their age who aren't already 'in', because they are acutely aware that PTSD is probably the mildest result - which causes significant tension between Harry and Ron and Hermione.
    • Then Doctor Strange plays it straight as an arrow in chapter 75 of the first book when he recruits them to use the cover of the New Avengers' assault on HYDRA's base to sneak in and rescue Steve, Tony and Bruce. Nobody is particularly happy with him as a result; while he is vindicated, he's an impossibly powerful Seer who can put the right people in the right place at the right time - and while nobody (not even him) thinks he has an Omniscient Morality License, it is begrudingly acknowledged to be a) a Necessary Evil, b) impossible to stop. Other than that, he does try and mitigate the consequences (the most damaging event for the kids, Forever Red, is when events are explicitly out of his control thanks to outside intervention) and build support structures to cope.
  • All pilots in Children of an Elder God are teenagers. Asuka is thirteen and their teammates are fourteen. Several of them –like Asuka or Touji- are quite hardheaded, to boot.
  • The Echo Ranger plays with this. Izuku is definitely a teen when he finds the Echo Coin. The main reason it chose Izuku was because he is Quirkless; Ranger powers and Quirks don't mix. It also picked Izuku for his "goodness, your purity, your desire to be a Hero and help people" according to Tommy. But Tommy tells Izuku he wasn't the first person with those qualities to pick up the Coin, just the first without a Quirk. Melissa makes her own Power Coin (with help) but still has to be chosen by it. Which it does. note 
  • Infinity Train: Crown of Thorns has the Ultra Rangers, this story's version of the Ultra Guardians, who are gathered to help deal with the supernatural threats in Alola. Lusamine even namedrops the trope while explaining why she created the team.
  • Knights of the Otherworld would have you believe it's doing this, with Merlin apparently summoning a group of random teens to form a new Round Table. The abundance of Arthurian names they have gives the twist away pretty fast, though.
  • In Last Child of Krypton, Shinji Ikari, saviour of mankind and the most powerful human in the planet thanks to his Kryptonian DNA, is fourteen. Asuka is a thirteen-year-old Humongous Mecha pilot, and an Amazon (a Kryptonian in the redux). Touji is fourteen, and he received a Green Lantern, the most powerful weapon in the universe...
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide: Shinji, Asuka, Rei, Touji and Keiko are all fourteen-years-old Humongous Mecha pilots.
  • Reconstructed in The Night Unfurls. Sanakan, Hugh, and Soren are the Kid Heroes of the main cast who fight against the Black Dogs, but they aren't the only ones "saving the day", nor they are thrust into the conflict head-first without guidance or training. Qualified, trained adult professionals are present in the battlefield as the Men of Sherwood, while the latter three (along with Lily, who is implied to be a young adult) are considered to be the heavy-hitters due to being under the apprenticeship of Sir Kyril, who is coincidentally the main protagonist.
  • Once More with Feeling: Shinji, Asuka and Rei are fourteen-year-old mecha pilots... and the former two have plenty of bad attitude.
  • Subverted in the Power Rangers fanfic Power Rangers GPX. The GPX Rangers were specifically trained to take on an alien threat before it actually occurred. At the time of the story, many of them are either in college or even had jobs or careers before their Ranger lives took over. Only one is specifically stated to still be a teenager.
  • Subverted in Power Rangers: Oceania. Unlike Power Rangers GPX, though, Kanohi basically empowers the first few that come to his temple: a fisherman, a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy, a lifeguard, a doctor, and a college student/hula teacher. Only one of these may be a teenager, but not all.
  • In The Second Try:
    • Played straight with Rei, who is a fourteen-year-old mecha pilot.
    • Subverted with Shinji and Asuka. Everyone believes that they're teenagers, but due to time-travel shenanigans, they're in their early twenties.
  • In Thousand Shinji, Shinji, Asuka and Rei are teenagers, Humongous Mecha pilots... and pretty psychotic.

  • Animorphs:
    • Five teenagers get picked by an alien to save the world from an alien invasion. They're eventually joined by the alien's younger brother, himself a teenager. To its credit, the series does deal with the absurdity of five teenagers being the world's only hope, and in the end they're all shown to have some fairly deep psychological trauma. Initially explained that said alien didn't have much choice, since he was about to die and the kids happened to be there.
    • However, it is later revealed that a Sufficiently Advanced Alien Energy Being (read: stand in for God) hand-picked more than half of the kids for various reasons; since it is involved in an absurdly complex universe-spanning game with an evil Sufficiently Advanced Alien, the earth's defenders being teenagers might have been a restriction as part of one of the in-game deals.
    • The Andalite Chronicles has another explanation: experience had taught Elfangor that human children were capable of much more than one might think, based on his teenage human love interest Loren (and he himself was a teenage Andalite during the events of that book).
    • When the Animorphs gain the ability to increase their numbers, they seek out more teenagers. Because they figured teenagers adapt to new situations more quickly than adults, and that teenagers would listen to them and be happier to let them take the lead than adults would; in addition they deliberately seek out disabled kids as there's no way the Yeerks would be using them as hosts (and the morphing technology allows some of them to be healed of their otherwise irreparable injuries).
  • A literary example, from the 2007-2012 run of The Hardy Boys series, Undercover Brothers. Frank and Joe are members of a crime group composed of teenagers, ATAC (American Teens Against Crime). The reasoning behind it is that teens can go places and ask questions that would be suspicious if asked by an adult.
  • In Ender's Game, the Battle School recruits kids as young as 6 or 7, where they are examined for strong willpower and survival instincts. This is justified in-universe, because no one old enough to understand war and with enough compassion to be a great general will fight it. Like in Animorphs, the kids end up very, very messed up. And the fallout is that in the Ender's Shadow sequel series, many of them try to take over the world. Ender's older brother recruits some of them on his side and does conquer the world.
  • While they didn't exactly recruit them, the rebellion in The Hunger Games series doesn't get off the ground until Katniss and Peeta (mostly Katniss, who has a lot of attitude) defy the Capitol while also gathering enough public adoration that the Capitol is reluctant to punish them directly, essentially making them figureheads for the rebels.
  • In the Lost Books series, Johnis, Sylvie, Billos, and Darsal, on multiple occasions.
  • The Other Light members in the Left Behind book Kingdom Come are all physically teenagers and young adults under 100 years old looking for recruits of the same age range so that they could pass on their teachings before they die at 100 to the generation that will confront God and Jesus at the end of the Millennium... only to get seriously owned!
  • In The Tripods, this is the only option because most people over 14 are Capped and mind-controlled.
  • Redwall has been known to use this trope, with the rare singular variant used for at least the first book as Matthias, Warrior of Redwall and Martin the Warrior's reincarnation, was around 14 or 15 (in human years) when he began wielding the Sword of Martin.
  • Similar to The Tripods, this trope's usage was Justified in The Resisters series by Eric Nylund. Humans are absorbed into the Cha'zar collective at puberty. The adults running the resistance stay underground and are unaware of other adult resisters until the third book.
  • The shadowhunters in The Shadowhunter Chronicles usually get their first rune at the age of twelve. Most often it is the rune that allows them to recognize magical creatures in their true forms. A shadowhunter is also expected to learn how to fight and acquire knowledge of demons from this age.
    • The cup of angels, which can turn ordinary humans into shadowhunters, works better the younger the person is who drinking from it. Children and teenagers have a much higher chance of ascending to shadowhunters than adults. When an adult drinks from the cup, four out of five times he is either killed or remains a mundane.
  • In Solar Defenders: The Role of a Shield, the magical crystals that turn people into Sentai heroes seem to specifically seek out teenagers to bond with. Defender Venus says that this is because they need to be younger for their minds to be flexible enough.
  • The Supernaturals Series: In book 1 (The Earth Titan), the four main characters — Elizabeth, Daniel, Carlos, and Ami — are all teenagers, ages seventeen, sixteen, fourteen, and thirteen, and have been chosen to protect the Earth from supernatural threats.
  • TimeRiders plays with this trope. The main cast are all thirteen to nineteen, as one would expect from this trope and teen to young adult fiction generally. However, they were chosen because it was known exactly when and where they were to die, and invariably dying in such a way that the body could not be recovered, enabling them to be snatched from the jaws of death easily. Also, all three had skills well suited to the tasks they would perform in the group — initiative, data-mining and a keen eye for tiny changes in detail. They also take a hulking great combat unit along on missions for when tactical evaluation or martial prowess are required. They are also purpose built organic robots who are slightly more resilient than ordinary humans anyway, and thanks to Liam's time in the past on missions he's closer to twenty by now and pushing the definition of "teenager".
  • The Daemon in The Hearts We Sold deals with teenagers exclusively, and doesn't seem to have anyone older than eighteen on his payroll. This turns out to be because anyone younger than fifteen or sixteen is too much hassle to work with, but the older you are, the less likely it is that your body can handle a fight with a monster. Even teenagers have no guarantee of surviving, but their odds are the best.
  • Young Wizards, as the name suggests, focuses on teenage protagonists learning and applying wizardry to preserve life in the universe. Those with the talent for magic typically go through an "Ordeal" around puberty in which they must solve a significant problem or oppose the dark Lone Power, risking and sometimes sacrificing their lives in the process. The weight of this burden does not go un-discussed. It's justified by the fact that raw magic power is strongest in the young and fades with age, making teens the most effective front line for the fight against entropy. Older wizards ARE still critical for their experience and guidance, but usually leave the young ones to actually go out and solve the problems.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Super Sentai:
    • Kousoku Sentai Turboranger from Super Sentai is probably the Trope Codifier, as it's the first Sentai team to consist of just teenagers recruited by an ancient mystic to fight the Hundred Demon Tribes Boma, but they've yet to be referred as 'Teenagers With Attitude' (this was before Power Rangers was even conceived in its current form).
    • Choujin Sentai Jetman does both play this trope's spirit partly straight while deconstructing it, as while Commander Aya Odagiri certainly was part of the military unit that developed the powers, the villain organization, Vyram pulling an All Your Base Are Belong to Us scattered the remaining four powers into random civilians (one of whom was an actual high school girl) who could barely function as fighters, let alone a team and had to be trained with much difficulty. Gai in particular refused to play ball during much of the early episodes, leading to much drama between him, Ryu and Kaori, but eventually, all five grew into a perfectly competent and coherent team (of friends), even outclassing a later group of attempted and supposedly superior replacements, the Neo Jetman, with their experience against the Vyram.
    • Interestingly, this is downplayed with certain Sentai much older than Turboranger, but no less embody the spirit of this trope. In these cases, such as Denziman, Goggle V, and Dynaman, while the heroes fit the bill of "specifically recruited for their skills", the fact that they are complete strangers to each other seems to be glossed over when they're functioning as a cohesive unit by their first outing.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers is the Trope Namer. In the first episode, mentor Zordon asked for "five overbearing and over-emotional humans" in the area, and helper robot Alpha said, complete with facepalm, "Oh no, not that! Not... teenagers!" to which Zordon responded, "that's correct Alpha," to which Alpha sighs, "I was afraid of that." Only one of the group didn't have any martial arts training and they were fairly decent shots on the very rare occasion when they actually used their blasters. The reasoning behind this, stated in the first episode, was that as teenagers they would be the generation to inherit the planet, and thusly should be the ones who protect that inheritance. (Also, these "teenagers" definitely are NOT as Zordon described them. They're neither angsty nor overbearing.) In addition, in the original unaired pilot, Zordon asked for the recruitment of "the most dangerous group of ruthless, underhanded, overbearing, self-absorbed, and over-emotional humans in the area".
      • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (an alternate continuity, but still interesting) implied that Zordon had been recruiting teenagers for centuries. Ivan Ooze remarks with disgust that "Zordon's still using a bunch of kids to do his dirty work" when he meets the current team, and clearly hates teenagers even more than he hates humans in general because of it.
      • Power Rangers (2017) changes the original origin to the five teenagers stumbling on the Power Coins and Zordon's ship. Zordon himself is actually quite skeptical about their capabilities for most of the movie.
      • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (Boom! Studios), set in its own continuity inspired by the series, presents a justification for this trope, at least with regards to the teens themselves: Prior to the 1993 team, Zordon had recruited a team back in 1969. This time, they were all capable adults, but they had to be pulled from different parts of the world and walks of life. The end result is that while sufficiently skilled to be combatants, they hardly got along, for the most part. Two of them were at odds for having different opinions about the Vietnam War, and one was a KGB specialist, a proud Soviet, and thus, displeased at the notion of following the orders of an American. Worse than that, the team is simply thrown into the fray on the moon without much in the way of team-building exercises or the like, and thus, when confronted with the awakened Psycho Green, two die horribly, and the KGB specialist dies taking out Psycho Green, although he at least makes peace with Red before passing. Zordon realized his folly, especially after being chewed out by the surviving two, and thus, when he recruits the present team, he would choose a group of close friends, high schoolers as they may be, who had the strong capacity for teamwork over skills that could simply be developed with training and time.
      • The seasons immediately following Mighty Morphin', Power Rangers Zeo, Power Rangers Turbo, and Power Rangers in Space kept the same premise. In fact, Turbo made it a plot point in order to justify a cast shakeup; the older Rangers carried over from Mighty Morphin' were dismissed from Ranger duty and replaced so they could begin establishing normal grownup lives.
    • The rest of the Power Rangers franchise downplays this, however. Many seasons do have teen heroes, but justify them by either having them already in training as members of an ancient order (Ninja Storm, Jungle Fury, Samurai) or the only ones in the vicinity to receive powers to begin with (Dino Thunder, Mystic Force, Dino Charge). The remaining entries narrowly avert this trope, as there the Rangers are usually (but not always) twenty-something adults and either are a genuine military unit of some kind (Lost Galaxy, Time Force, SPD, RPM, Beast Morphers) or are specifically recruited for the skills that they've already demonstrated in their careers (Lightspeed Rescue, Wild Force, Operation Overdrive, Dino Fury).
    • Power Rangers Megaforce, being a deliberate homage to Mighty Morphin', brings this trope back in full force. Gosei is a bit more diplomatic than Zordon, though, asking for "energetic and unstoppable" humans, but his Robot Buddy still verbally facepalms at teenagers much like Alpha did.
    • Power Rangers Ninja Steel is another one of the entries that plays it straight, as the Ninja Nexus Prism grants its Power Stars to six teens it deems worthy.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Averted, mostly. Most of the Scoobies weren't exactly recruited - they were just swept up in events. Anya and Tara were genuinely recruited, but they had extensive knowledge of demons and magic, respectively (and in Anya's case, was over a thousand years old despite physically being a teenager). Also, in later seasons, they stopped being teenagers. Slayers, though, are always chosen from teenage girls, and few of them live past 18. About the only explanation for this is that the creepy old men who created the Slayer role in prehistoric times figured younger girls would be easier to control or they lived before "teenager" appeared as a concept and what is now a teenager was considered an adult.
  • Justified in The 100. The Ark space station decides to send one hundred people down to the Earth's surface, ostensibly to see if the planet is livable again after the nuclear war, but really because the Ark is running out of oxygen, and sending the 100 down frees up more air for the rest of the population. Since almost everyone expects the 100 to quickly die of radiation poisoning, the plan is to only send down expendable criminals (with the promise of a full pardon if they survive). However, since any adult who breaks the law gets an automatic death sentence, the only criminals they have handy are their juvenile delinquents. Cue one hundred rebellious teenagers being sent to recolonize the Earth.
  • Class (2016): The Doctor trusts a bunch of six-formers to look after a rift in time at their school (which is largely due to him dropping in there too often). Deconstructed as the psychological strain has some realistically traumatic effects on the characters, and they end up committing a genocide that might have been justifiable to them (the aliens in question were by all experience Always Chaotic Evil and implacably hostile to humanity, all other sentient life, and them in particular) but would probably horrify the Doctor if he found out about it.
  • Genseishin Justiriser: When the world is threatened by an Evil Overlord's return, the spirit of Nolun seeks out three worthy candidates to become Justirisers. It just so happens that the first two people she catches doing anything heroic are two high school students, while the third is a college student.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Explained as the reason why the Mother Planetoid adopted the B.R.A.T.S. of the Lost Nebula and gave them the equipment they needed to battle the Shock forces, as the Planetoid's creator believed that only teenagers and their chaotic nature could outmaneuver the Shock's forces.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Bleak World has the Androids, who are all cyborg teenagers brought back from the razor's edge of death. They are also the most dangerous of the Experiments, due to being completely batshit.
  • Justified (in an extremely handwavey way) in the Mutants & Masterminds fan-setting A World Less Magical, But No Less Fantastic. The Sea Dragons are a Japanese government superteam who wear costumes that give them powers, but which also — for some unknown reason — dramatically age the wearer, in direct proportion to how skilled they are otherwise. The first wearer was an Air Force veteran with multiple doctorates who died almost instantly, the second was a high school drop-out who didn't. Once this was discovered, the recruits to wear the other suits were "a number of young people of [the drop-out's] acquaintance, who often had attitude problems". (This also explains the rapid turnover of Sentai teams — the better you get at this stuff, the more dangerous it is to keep doing it).

    Video Games 
  • Many City of Heroes players make their in-game avatars as teenagers.
  • Ditto Champions Online players.
  • EarthBound (1994)'s four main characters are teens (and possibly even younger in the Japanese version), though they were chosen by a prophecy. Unlike many examples, though, the trope is deconstructed, since what the characters have to go through at the end of the game is meant to signify a loss of innocence.
  • Lampshaded in Golden Sun, when this is one of the objections the adults of Vale have to the Wise One (and the High Elder) insisting that only Isaac and Garet can chase down the Mars Clan warriors to recover the Elemental Stars. Possibly justified when we learn they're not meant to thwart the return of Alchemy, but rather, to gauge the necessity of it, which the elders of Vale already proved unwilling to do.
  • Tokyo Xanadu has a mostly teenage cast. While most of the group join freely when they discover the plot, and Mitsuki is a Mega-Corp princess whose family are running one of the major Underground factions, the real jokers in the deck are Asuka and the White Shroud, aka Jun. Both are elite super-operatives employed by their respective factions to clean up Eclipse-related events completely independently, and both are seventeen, with only the justification that they're good at what they do. This eventually gets lampshaded when the military get involved and Gorou tries to get them to step back and let the pros handle things, but he realizes that he can't force them to do so when he was always telling them to shoot for the stars as their teacher.
  • Par for the course in the Persona series, where most of the party members are high school students. This is downplayed in the Persona 2 duology, where Innocent Sin has one adult in the core lineup and one adult Guest-Star Party Member, and Eternal Punishment has the entire team consist of adults except for one guy, who has a very good reason to be there. The trope is justified in Persona 4, where the party consists of Amateur Sleuths and near-victims of the Serial Killer who can't go to the police because nobody would believe them, and in Persona 5, where the heroes are social outcasts explicitly rebelling against corrupt adults.
  • Final Fantasy is well known for its teenage casts. Final Fantasy VIII arguably leans into this the most, as the plot revolves around a military school training teenagers with attitude as they are destined to do battle with and kill an evil Sorceress. It's a Deconstructed Trope in the first disc as it's precisely their attitudes that lead them to one incompetent mistake after another, from the Hot-Blooded Zell jeopardizing their academy by accidentally revealing they are from Balamb Garden, to Rinoa going after the sorceress herself with an ill thought out plan and putting her life at risk just to prove something to her dad, to their former teacher Quistis convincing her entire squad to abandon her post and nearly jeopardizing their assassination mission to apologize to Rinoa for being overly harsh about said ill thought out plan, to trained sniper Irvine getting cold feet when he actually has to do the deed. Even the protagonist and Only Sane Man Squall proves himself less mature than he thinks as he loses his temper and storms off after his rival Seifer's supposed death and him dealing with the cognitive dissonance of everyone refusing to speak ill of him despite their past issues. This trope is played straighter after Disc 1, however, and they do pull through in the end despite everything.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • The various Huntsmen and Huntress Academies are certainly in the market of recruiting particularly badass teenagers with attitude to help defend people from the Grimm, a race of eldritch horrors hellbent on exterminating humanity. Ruby got into Beacon after one of the teachers watched her inflict a Curb-Stomp Battle on a crime lord and his goons. The adults who did the recruiting didn't exactly plan on the kids being the first line of defence against a malicious conspiracy against the kingdoms, however...
    • In Volume 2, this trope is deconstructed somewhat; Ozpin, as fantasy teachers are wont to do, allows team RWBY to investigate an area that may be the villain's hideout and definitely is full of Grimm. Ultimately, the girls end up triggering a breach in the kingdom's defenses that nearly leads to an invasion of Grimm. While the problem is solved quickly, the events disgrace Ozpin.
    • Volume 3 goes further with the deconstruction; realizing that the villains aren't finished, Ozpin asks Pyrrha Nikos, The Ace of Beacon, to inherit the power of the Fall Maiden and become the savior of mankind. However, said inheriting relies on an experimental and dangerous machine that may destroy Pyrrha's identity, causing her much angst on whether or not she can go through with it. In the end, she's unable to accept the power before Cinder steals it for herself. Pyrrha attempts to fight Cinder, but all she accomplishes is dying, which causes Ruby to awaken her own latent powers.
  • The Trope Namer is discussed in the DEATH BATTLE! episode between the Power Rangers and the Voltron Force as Wiz flat out calls it "asinine", yet somehow impressed that it actually worked. This was vastly different to the Voltron Force, who were already space explorers (or the last survivors of Earth, if you go by GoLion), thus a lot more trained and a factor into the Rangers' ultimate defeat.

    Web Comics 
  • In El Goonish Shive Susan and Nanase got their magic potential unlocked this way, when two immortals recruited them to fight an aberration (a dangerous vampire-like being). This encounter led to 15-year-old Susan getting some long-lasting psychological scars due to being forced to kill someone who used to be human. It later turns out the immortals in question had no legitimate need to do so as they could have called on several more experienced sources to neutralize the threat. The fact that they convinced teenage girls to handle it alone was a source of great disgust to Jerry, another immortal.
    Jerry: They would argue that recruiting you served a greater good in the fight against evil. And I would argue that those bastards should have gotten an adult.
  • Mocked in Manly Guys Doing Manly Things here, where the Commander delivers to Zordon teenagers with the modern definition of attitude instead of the 90s upbeat and "can do" attitude Zordon actually asked for (the definition of "attitude" as pertains to teens having shifted back and forward rapidly ever since the end of WW2).
  • Parimetra: Averted in the present day, with all the superheroes being 19 or 20 years old, but the flashback chapter reveals that when A.S.H. was created, its members were 13 or even 12. Yikes. Justified, as they're the only people able to defeat the monsters, adult or otherwise.
  • In Homestuck all SBURB/SGRUB players are around 13 when they enter the game, though depending on the shenanigans that happen in their session, they might grow out of the "teenager" part. Caliborn was only 11 and he definitely had the most "attitude" out of any character
  • Parodied in this Gunshow strip, where a group of teens foil a villain by utilising the most common teenage attitude: that of sullen apathy.
    Villain: Stop! Don't! Stop loitering on my laser!

    Web Original 
  • Sailor Nothing also deals with the absurdity of choosing teenage girls to save the world. Who would come up with such a ridiculous idea? A villain who actually wants the good guys to lose?
  • In Worm we have a rare villainous example: supervillain Coil assembled the Undersiders from a group of teenage solo villains that would have never thought to work together otherwise.
  • Pale has three thirteen-year-old girls recruited by the supernatural creatures who inhabit the small Canadian town of Kennet to investigate the murder of the Carmine Beast, with the reasoning that they need to be able to tell outside investigators that human magical practitioners are looking into the matter, but don't want to deal with the many problems of experienced practitioners who would bind them to service.

    Web Videos 
  • Naturally any weird Power Rangers parody "must include teenagers with attitude." At the end of that video we get a shot supposedly inside Zordon's Lab, which has been trashed to hell with graffiti. "This is why I never let teenagers with attitude into my lab!"
  • The line is parodied in My Way Entertainment's own Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers parody:
    Zordon: ALPHA! That bitch escaped! Bring me five motherfuckin' teenagers with five motherfuckin' attitudes!
  • Truncated Power Rangers does its own parody of the line and Alpha's reaction:
    Zordon: Bring me 5 teenagers too stupid to understand the cosmic repercussions of their actions.
    Alpha: Eh, what the heck. I'll go with these guys. They look diverse enough.
  • Lampshades HARD in the grim-n-gritty Power/Rangers "deboot", where Rocky laments that if Zordon really WAS one of the "good guys", he would have never made teenagers fight in an intergalactic war that they couldn't possibly hope to comprehend, and that the Rangers have no right to take the moral high ground on anything after that. The former rangers' messed up and/or tragically cut-short lives are a testament to this.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Gaang never picks up anyone over the age of sixteen. Justified in the beginning as Katara is pretty much the last person on the planet who still believes "the Avatar will return" — and later that all the adult warriors get themselves captured and/or killed. An alliance of Cool Old Guys shows up for the finale, however.
  • Likewise, in the beginning of The Legend of Korra, the main characters are older, being roughly 16-18 years old, but are still teens. A three-year Time Skip for the fourth season changes this, however. Korra generally avoids this, as despite the "gang" being all teens, the older mentor characters get just as much screen time and character development. They still all fit with the creator's admission that no-one between the ages of twenty and forty is worth a damn, though.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers has Gaia recruiting five teenagers with no previous experience fighting evil. On the good side, they were able to summon a superhero when things got too tough. The Planeteers were the generation that was going to grow up to inherit a polluted planet, like the intended audience, so it made sense for Gaia to teach people of that generation to take care of it.
  • Double Subversion with the Storm Hawks, as when they tried to register the first time, they were turned down for being too young (with the exception of Stork). Eventually, they are recognized by the Sky Council as Sky Knights after they stop the plot of the Cyclonian Empire to wipe out most life on the planet.
    • Also lampshaded as many secondary characters comment on their ages for about the first dozen episodes.
    • At one point several other kids tried to join the team as well, but were ultimately encouraged to return to their homes for awhile.
  • Played straight in the Hot Wheels: Battle Force 5 animated series. When one of the six teens rather sensibly ask their holographic advisor why they alone were chosen to save the world, she replies that each one brings "something different" to the team. Which one brings driving experience to a battle for the fate of the world that involves high-speed racing is never said.note 
  • Toad Patrol: The titular team of toads, ranging in human equivalent age from young adult to 4-5 years old, are asked by an elderly sage toad to go out on their own on a journey to find a magical portal to a place of refuge for toads, and in the second season are asked to venture back out in order to turn those who got turned into toadstools back into toadlets.
  • The Animesque Totally Spies! Think Power Rangers meets Charlie's Angels. The spy organization known as WOOHP actually has adult agents but none of them are field agents; it's the teens who has to take on the dangerous missions, and apparently, unpaid, although with benefits such as travel and shopping expenses.
  • The Spin-Off The Amazing Spiez! is even worse since the core cast are 13 (Lee), 12 (Marc and Megan) and 11 (Tony) in the first episode (which heavily implies that they've been at it for a while).
  • While most of the cast is, surprisingly, grown up in Generator Rex the title character and protagonist, Rex is 15, and working as the top agent for a N.G.O. Superpower. Completely Justified thanks to his High Level Super-Powers, the most important of which is Permanent Power Nullification in a world overrun by superpowered, often mindless mutants.
  • The main cast in Code Lyoko is entirely made of teenagers (though one of them is technically in her twenties, retaining a teenager's body and personality due to being trapped in a virtual world for eleven years) who regularly use a highly advanced computer to go on a virtual world and fight a powerful evil A.I. The trope is justified, however: the recruiter (Jérémy) was a teenager himself (the youngest, in fact), and he has to rely on his friends because if he had gone to ask for adults' help, they would have 1) Shut down the computer without leaving him time to free Aelita from it and 2) Probably seized the machine and used its extremely dangerous tech for unhealthy purposes. Plus, whenever the heroes try to rely on adults for help, it almost always ends up with Adults Are Useless in application. And even when it doesn't, they always lose their memories thanks to the supercomputer's Return to the Past program.
  • Ben 10:
    • Exaggerated and justified in Ben 10, where the Omnitrix, a watch-like alien device known as the most powerful weapon in this universe, was actually intended for experienced Retired Badass Max Tennyson. However, his 10-year-old grandson Ben happened to find it first, and his DNA was close enough to Max's to have the Omnitrix take him as its owner; after that, the Omnitrix being a Clingy MacGuffin, Ben is unable to remove it and the error cannot be undone. By the time it can, Max has convinced the Omnitrix's creator Azmuth to let Ben keep it, believing the kid has potential.
    • Deconstructed in Ben 10: Alien Force, where the Plumbers actually send someone to try to arrest Ben, Gwen and Kevin when they find out a bunch of kids are using their equipment and resources of their own to fight an "unproven" Alien Invasion.
  • Justified in Voltron: Legendary Defender. Allura wakes up from a ten-thousand year cryosleep to discover that her entire species has been wiped out and that a Galra ship is on its way to Arus to destroy what's left, so she has to settle for the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits that stumbled upon her castle-slash-spaceship to assemble Voltron and save the day. She is, however, wise enough to pass over the Rookie Red Ranger and instead appoint the one responsible adult in the group as The Leader, Law of Chromatic Superiority be damned. Additionally, while four of the five Paladins are bickering teenagers, they were also military academy students prior to getting stranded on an alien planet, and thus at least have some training in aeronautics, engineering and hand-to-hand combat.
  • The Mane Six in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic certainly act the part, being a group of youngsters who get thrust head-on into a battle against Nightmare Moon and end up becoming Princess Celestia's go-to team to take on enemies the Royal Guards can't handle (which, apparently, is all of them). Their exact ages are vague but their My Little Pony: Equestria Girls counterparts are only in high school.
  • The Peppermint Rose special had Rose and her friends as normal teenagers recruited to save the land from a group of ogreish beetles.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
    • When Master Fu finds out someone has discovered the long-lost Butterfly Miraculous and is going to use it to be a supervillain, it's shown that he is far too old to transform and fight him himself. Therefore, he covertly delivers the Ladybug and Cat Miraculouses to teenagers Marinette Dupain-Cheng and Adrien Agreste after they help out what seems to be a regular old man so they can become superheroes and battle the villain.
    • Big Bad Hawk Moth is an example of this trope used by a villain. His Miraculous gives him the power to brainwash people and turn them into supervillains as long as they are feeling emotions like sadness or anger, a power that was meant to create heroes instead. A small but noticeable majority of his victims are teenagers and children; it's justified in his case because teens generally have much poorer control over their emotions than adults and he doesn't exactly care about their well-being. That being said, at one point he brainwashes a baby, which goes poorly for him because the baby won’t listen to his instructions.
    • When Master Fu allows Marinette to temporarily recruit more superheroes for missions where two is not enough, she chooses to lend the jewels to her friends/classmates while disguised as Ladybug. Her case is justified by the fact that she'd be naturally inclined to trust people who she is intimately acquainted with.
  • Winx Club:
    • The series starts averting this trope, as most of the Winx's antics are a product of their rivalry with the Trix. Other than the latter pursuing the Dragon's Flame, it was all (magical) high-school drama. Then it's revealed Bloom is the Dragon's Flame bearer, the Trix sisters conquer Magix after stealing said god-like magic, and it's up to the remaining students of the magical schools to fight them off. Justified since, other than the rather few staff members, there's no one else trained at fighting. Less justified is the fact the Winx girls still end up fighting the Trix sisters whose contenders, by all means, should have been a group of third-year, Enchantix fairies, not a bunch of first-years!
    • From season two onward, the trope is Played Straight. Faragonda, the headmistress of the fairy school, personally recruits the six Winx to deal with the season's Big Bad.
    • The trope ought to have stopped applying roughly by season five because the Winx girls turned 20. However, due to the soft recon and art style change in season eight, it's unclear as everyone looks way younger — the Winx themselves look even younger than they were back in season one.
    • On a villainous example, this trope applies to the Trix sisters as well, who are eighteen when the show kicks off. Since the second season, they have been recruited by the season's Big Bad as Co-Dragons either because they happen to be nearby, offer themselves, or are outright searched out.
    • In the same vein, the villain of season six, Acheron, manipulated fourteen-year-old Selina as his underling about two years before the canon. So, while by the time this season occurs Selina is not a teenager anymore, it still accounts. Justified seeing Selina is the first person to open the book Acheron was trapped in in centuries.