Follow TV Tropes


Wild Child

Go To
The original wild child.

Natural child, terrible child
Not your mother's or your father's child
You're our child, screamin' wild... you remember when we were in Africa?
The Doors, "Wild Child"

The extreme end of No Social Skills — a feral child has lived isolated from human contact from a very young age, and has little or no experience of human care, loving or social behavior, and — crucially — human language. These individuals are not just bad at social interaction; they are so limited that they are effectively wild animals who happen to have human form. And not the friendly talking kind, either.

Characters who are raised by fictional animals are usually much better off than these kids: If a Wild Child was literally raised by animals, it will be painfully obvious that those animals were no substitute for real parents, with the child showing markedly animalistic behavior, such as a tendency to bite anyone who crosses their gaze wrong or who intrudes into their personal space, or never having learned to walk upright. Sometimes this can be played for comedy, with less harmful behaviors like inappropriate sniffing or choosing to "mark" territory.

In Real Life, "feral children" are a blessedly rare phenomenon, and almost always the result of Parental Abandonment, neglect, and/or abuse. What exactly happened to them while they were out of contact with normal human culture? Is their odd behavior caused by lack of social contact, or did they have pre-existing developmental problems already? In real life, feral kids are almost never rehabilitated. It should also be noted that the phenomenon is labeled "feral children" and not "feral humans" because there are virtually no cases of finding feral people who actually survived to adulthood — with an extremely tiny handful of disputed exceptions, they're almost always discovered when they're young.

In fiction, if the child does live long enough, they can mature into either a Tarzan Boy or Jungle Princess. Raised by Wolves is a subset of this. Compare with Raised by Orcs. Not to be confused with the 2008 film of the same name, which is actually about a Bratty Teenage Daughter.


    open/close all folders 


    Anime & Manga 
  • Ed from Cowboy Bebop is this crossed with Cloudcuckoolander. She acts like a dog sometimes and has poor social skills despite her talent for hacking. Her introductory episode shows she had been living in squalor by herself and it is explained later that Ed was abandoned by her father. She tends to drift from place to place, so she rarely interacted with people prior to joining the Bebop. It is fitting therefore that the strongest relationship she has is with Ein, who is a dog.
  • Inosuke Hashibira from Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba was raised by a wild boar and spent most of his life alone in the mountains after his mother was killed by a demon. While he's introduced as a Blood Knight with No Social Skills, he can at least speak human language, as an omake reveals that he met an old man who taught him to speak by reading him old poems.
  • Keenan (Ikuto) from Digimon Data Squad is a type of this... Only he slightly knows how to act around humans because Digimon act sociable to each other. He still uses Tarzan-like language though (even though most Digimon speak flawless English/Japanese).
  • Wrath from the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist lived alone in the wilds of an island.
  • One of the plays Maya performs in Glass Mask is an extended deconstruction of this trope. In The Forgotten Wilderness Maya takes the part of a girl who was raised by wolves, then later captured and used as a side-show attraction until taken in by a professor who wanted to restore her to humanity. This series itself naturally approaches the trope from the far end. Although Maya has no real trouble learning to move on all fours, the challenge is getting to the point where she appears wild, as in someone who's never been exposed to human body language, never mind social conventions.
  • Age of Heroic Age is a subversion: he acts a lot like a wild child, having no comprehension of manners, personal hygiene, numbers, etc. and spends a great deal of his time goofing off in the garden or finger painting. However, as it turns out, he was raised by none other than the Golden Tribe themselves, is one of the few characters who fully grasps the situation of the war, and makes some astonishingly mature decisions (given his usual behavior) throughout the series.
  • Pokémon:
    • An inverted case in Pokémon: The Series. A wild Meowth learned human language, how to walk like a human, social skills and other impressive knowledge. He would eventually join Team Rocket, but he is still technically a wild Pokémon.
    • The feral girl Sapphire from Pokémon Adventures fights wild Pokémon with her bare hands, has refined senses of sight, smell, and hearing, is a bit socially awkward (though she does have regular human contact), and even has fangs and claws. When she was introduced she actually had clothing she made out of leaves.
    • In Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl Adventure!, Professor Rowan deliberately had Hareta raised by Pokémon, with just enough human contact to learn to speak and wear clothes. As a result, Hareta can do several feats that humans normally can't, such as chewing through trees.
    • There's also Tobo/Tommy, from "The Kangaskhan Kid" in season one of the anime and The Electric Tale of Pikachu manga. He fell out of his parents' helicopter and was raised by Kangaskhan in the Safari Zone. But he can still speak when Ash and co come around. In the original Japanese, he rather infamously asks Misty if he can nurse from her. In the end, his parents join him with his adopted family.
  • Kouya from The Twelve Kingdoms was raised by a youma after his parents abandoned him during a famine. Until he was taken in by Atsuyu, he couldn't really speak.
  • Trowa Barton from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is a lesser version of this. The prequel manga Episode Zero shows him being thrown from his family's carriage as a baby, followed by an Age Cut that shows him as a young boy, at which point he's taken in by a mercenary group. His limited human interaction serves to explain several aspects of his nature like his stoicism, not speaking much,note  close understanding of animals, and having no name of his own.
  • Dragon Ball: Son Goku is a bit of a subversion. His adoptive grandfather raised him but eventually got crushed under the foot of Goku, who had turned into a giant ape after seeing the full moon, so Goku spent a lot of his early childhood in a forest, picking up traits and instincts of the animals around him. Because of this, he has No Social Skills by the time Bulma finds him.
  • Miata from Claymore is considered to be "emotionally unstable" by the Organization, and how! Because of the trauma she suffered when her parents were killed, most likely by Yoma (the same backstory almost all Claymores share, really), she acts like this. She can barely talk and only like a small child would, she's extremely violent (and also extremely powerful) and because of that the Organization has isolated her from the rest of the warriors. She eventually bonds with Clarice, the weakest warrior of her generation, believing that Clarice is actually her mother. Eventually Miata's mind is healed in the final chapters of the manga, but it would take Clarice to sacrifice her life for this to happen.
  • No explanation was ever given yet, but Chiya of Urara Meirocho has been living in the mountains away from the civilization before Present Day. Lampshaded by Koume in the first episode, comparing her to a feral animal.
  • San of Princess Mononoke was Raised by Wolves (who also happen to be minor gods), and she's developed into a Misanthrope Supreme Nature Lover who renounces her humanity and identifies as a wolf.

    Comic Books 
  • Karu-Sil, a member of the enemy Sinestro Corps in Green Lantern, qualifies for this trope, since she wound up with a pack of predators after her parents were killed in a minor tribal conflict. She assimilated to her new companions a little too well.
  • The French Graphic Novel Pyrénée is about a girl raised in the mountains by a bear.
  • Another French comic series, Sillage (Wake in English) begins with its heroine Nävis (Navee in English), the sole survivor from a wrecked spaceship, growing up wild with a big tiger-like companion on a jungle planet. The spinoff series Nävis (not yet translated into English) tells of her early childhood, when she was also being looked after by the ship's only surviving robot.
  • The Amphibian from Supreme Power. Her mother tried to drown the both of them after seeing her malformed baby, but the Amphibian took to life underwater pretty well, living there into her early 20s before ever being discovered. She's incapable of speech, but can communicate telepathically. She also responds to anything she preceives as threatening with violence. Oh, and, as you might've guessed, she doesn't wear any clothes.
  • Another aquatic example: the British comic character Fishboy is, as the name suggests, raised by fish and learns how to breathe underwater. Really.
  • The Black Condor is a human man who was raised by condors. Who taught him to fly (yes, without wings). And then he became a US Senator. I swear I'm not making this up. A later retcon gives him the power of flight naturally, which makes the character very slightly less loopy.
  • Subverted by Teon a.k.a. Primal from Generation Hope. He acts as if he's Hope's pet dog most of the time, rarely says anything but "fight", "flight", "eat", "mate", and "woof", and does horribly on intelligence tests, but then he aces them when she offers him a snack, and when his parents sue the X-Men for custody of him, he takes the stand and gives an eloquent speech convincing them to drop the suit. It turns out he had a normal human upbringing and was actually a computer geek before his mutation turned him into a being of pure instinct concerned primarily with survival and mating.
  • The mutant superhero/supervillain Wild Child was living on the streets after his parents threw him out, and then was experimented on by the Secret Empire. All of which left him not very socially adjusted, but how feral he is varies considerably Depending on the Writer and how he's treated.
    • His Age of Apocalypse counterpart was basically a wild animal Sabretooth kept on a leash.
    • In Mutant X, the Alternate Universe versions of Wolverine, Sabretooth and Wild Child are living as a pack in the Canadian wilderness.
  • A group of feral children appeared in an issue of Hack/Slash. A scientist had collected them together and tried to raise them to fit in with human society. They're all under 12, and all but Romulus is incapable of human speech. The experiment goes well enough until a drug treatment intended to help their rehabilitation along instead causes them to regress into more and more aggressive, primal behavior. Eventually they kill and eat their foster father.
  • Batman went up against one in Legends of the Dark Knight #115. He had been orphaned and horribly scarred in a boating accident as a young boy many years earlier and had taken refuge in the cave system underneath Wayne Manor.
  • Aquaman character Dolphin fell overboard of a cruise ship as a young girl, was rescued by dolphins, and then made amphibious by aliens whose exact motives have never been elaborated on. She escaped from them and roamed the ocean for years, until she was found as a teenager by an oceanography vessel.
  • Irredeemable: Late in the story, it's revealed that, when he was a kid, the Plutonian crashed a car that was transporting him in the woods outside Coalville, and was the only survivor. From there, he spent a few years living in a nearby warehouse, feeding on the wild animals in the woods. During this time, he became a local Urban Legend in the area, known as the "Coalville Wolf Boy". One day, while out in the woods, Tony attacked a young Evan Cousins (who would grow up to become Max Damage), and his female friend. It's one of the reasons why Max Damage is a Berserk Button for him. Max is the only person who knows about that, and is a constant reminder to Tony that he's not a paragon of perfection.
  • Doom Patrol established in one of the original series' backup stories that Beast Boy briefly lived by himself in the wild a short time after he was orphaned.

    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield:
    • In one story arc, Jon Arbuckle dates a woman who was raised by wolves. Although she usually seems to have assimilated well into human society, she does occasionally exhibit such behaviors as trying to gnaw off her own leg because her shoe is pinching her foot.
    • In another short story arc, Garfield climbs a tree and meets a cat who had been raised by squirrels.
  • There is a GahanWilson cartoon about a boy abandoned by summer people and raised by squirrels.

    Fan Works 
  • In Can I Keep Him?, Hiccup — or "Clever Claw" — has spent so much of his early life with Toothless and no one else that not only does he move as though he were a dragon, but he doesn't speak any human language.
  • Most children raised by Pokémon or Poke-raised are incapable of human speech or functioning in human society in Symbiosis. Which serves to underline how special Ash Ketchum and Tommy Marshall are as they are capable of speaking to humans and pokemon and could function in human society. Interestingly, Ash is capable because his pokemon adoptive father, Poison Lance knew enough about humans that he had sure that Ash had enough contact with them to learn how to speak, read and write. So while Ash has No Social Skills and knows the bare minimum of how humans function, he can convincingly fake being a normal child. This gives Ash the ability to speak to pokemon, has heightened endurance and sense of smell and subconscious use of Aura. Tommy was deliberately groomed by the Safari Zone Rangers who kept him from his biological family and made sure that he could function.
  • From the Gensokyo 20XX series, we have Maribel and Renko, to some extent, as neither have had any contact with anyone up until meeting Yukari and Renko (aptly called "Wren") did communicate in chirps and warbles, often doing so in 20XXV.
    • In Foundling (branch off), Reimu, having lived with kitsune pups, learned to behave like them and was mentioned to be walking on all fours and vocalizing like them and Chen, said behavior being normal for her. In a greater scale of things, she's picked up on some more youkai traits but the acting like kistune pups and a nekomata is the most noticeable.
  • Ryuuko in chapter 5 in this fic titled Cellar Secrets, due to her mother keeping her in the cellar. To elaborate further, she moves on all fours because of apparent developmental or acquired abnormalities to her legs and or spine due to being caged (which didn't leave her much room to move around) and she knows language, as she is heard speaking it, but has to learn how to use it in syntaxes, thus she communicates in gestures and has made up her own syntaxes. Along that line, she is frightened of a lot of things, is quick to swat at or hit someone, is somewhat like a baby, doesn't prefer to wear shoes but is known to tolerate socks and, unlike some feral children, she doesn't seem to mind sleeping on a mattress or toddler bed. Her chapter after her introduction mentions her as swatting at one doctor, biting another, and almost hurt herself trying to get away from them.
  • How to Train Your Dragon fics such as Nightfall and Wild Hearts make Hiccup this when depicting a reality where he was ‘abducted’ along with Valka and essentially ‘raised’ by dragons; Nightfall takes this to the extreme as Valka died when he was so young Hiccup has basically ‘forgotten’ that he isn’t a dragon and can’t even remember how to talk to humans at first, while in Wild Hearts he spent a few years before he realised the psychological differences between himself, his mother, and his ‘siblings’ (such as the dragons being unable to read), and by the time of the narrative he’s mostly just watched humans from a distance and still doesn’t get various human social cues, such as having a lack of ‘respect’ for personal space.
  • In Left Behind, this is a good description of Belima, the last of the Xarai that originally inhabited Rohvu, due to the neural degradation she has suffered from being repeatedly ‘twinned’. She needs several days of instruction at least before Crichton and Chiana trust her not to try to eat Pilot's arms after they've found more food, and it takes further time until Belima shows any sign of starting to remember her pre-Kaarvok life.
  • The sidestory "Shadows of the Jungle" of Pokémon Reset Bloodlines features a girl who acts as the Hive Queen of a lot of Bug-type Pokémon in the jungle of Guyana. It's implied that she's a Bug Heart Bloodliner, capable of controlling them at will, and acts extremely feral and is uncapable of human speech.
  • The Kokiri race in Zelda and the Manacle of Cahla. Unlike the cute Peter Pan-esque look they sport in the source material, this tribe of immortal children wear Tribal Face Paint, clothes made of leaves, masks that look like skulls and no shoes. They run on all fours, are articulate to a degree just above You No Take Candle, and attack Zelda with Blow Guns made of bone until she manages to earn their trust.
  • One Young Hero: The titular young hero, Riolu (Taiki in the Kai version). His father Lucario (Tairo in the Kai version) sent him into the forest when he was very young to kill all the wild Pokémon in the forest as they were "savages" that needed to be eliminated, but Riolu (Taiki) suffered a Tap on the Head by a stray Rock Throw attack and decided to live along with the wild Pokémon in the forest before the protagonists found him. Suprisingly, he seems to have a pretty good grasp on language, unlike other examples of this trope.

    Films — Animation 
  • Spot from The Good Dinosaur, a human child which the sentient dinosaurs treat as a malignant critter for eating their stored food.
  • Mebh from Wolfwalkers. As one of the titular Wolfwalkers, beings whose spirits can turn into wolves while their human bodies are asleep, she lives in the forest with only her mother and wolves for company. While she's completely capable of speech since she has a human parent, she still grew up around wolves and spends about half her time as one, so she shows a lot of feral, wolf-like behaviour and a disdain for "townies".

    Films — Live-Action 
  • François Truffaut's The Wild Child, about the famous Victor of Aveyron, who lived alone in the forest from early childhood until the age of about twelve. The film is about the process of educating him.
  • The Feral Kid (credited as such) in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior.
  • F, the vampire girl found chained to a rock underground in Marebito.
  • The live-action adaptation of The Flintstones: Bamm-Bamm Rubble was one of these, raised by wild mastadons.
  • The title feral woman in The Woman, who gets kidnapped by a suburban family in an attempt to make her more "civilized".
    • The sequel Darlin' shows that after living with the Woman for several years, Darlin' Cleek has become feral as well. Since she had spent her early years in civilization, when she is found, after some struggle, she is able to speak again.
  • The Turkish movie, Aslan Adam or Lion Man, has the main character, a prince abandoned in the woods as a baby after his father was killed by invaders. Adopted by a pride of lions, the hero grows up in the wilderness, gaining Super Strength and razor-sharp claws as he reached adulthood, and eventually goes back to civilization to exact his revenge.
  • In Nell, Dr. Paley, who's never met Nell, erroneously thinks she is one of these, and Dr. Lovell is shown doing some research on them.
  • Werner Herzog's The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser is a dramatization of the story of Germany's most famous Wild Child. Possibly a subversion, see Real Life below.
  • Mama has two sisters, Victoria and Lily, who live in an abandoned cabin in the woods for a few years. As a result, when they are finally found, they are covered in dirt and scuttling around on all fours like dogs. The younger sister has minimal language skills and still snarls and snaps at people after initially being brought back to civilization. The older sister had more experience living with normal humans, so she recovers faster.
  • Welp has the character Kai, who moves and growls very similar to a wild beast. While he never speaks any words, he seems to understand language as he responds to various characters in a manner that suggests he comprehends what they're saying.
  • Laura in Logan is virtually feral at the outset, being completely nonverbal and having a countenance and demeanor that one would associate with a predatory animal. Her response to a convenience store clerk trying to stop her from shoplifting is to hurl him to the ground and attempt to kill him, and before that, Gabriela desperately tried to keep a confrontation with a motel employee from escalating, as she knew full well that Laura would kill her without a second thought given the chance.
  • Jason in the Friday the 13th franchise: after his mother thinks he drowned as a child he spent years surviving alone in the wild.
  • The feral boy known as "The Dog" in Shrooms.

  • In No. 6, Inukashi (literally "dog-lender" or "dogkeeper") was raised by a mother dog seemingly since he was a baby. He refers to said mother dog as his "mom" and to her puppies as his brothers and sisters. However, unlike nearly all Real Life examples of this trope, he is apparently able to speak and interact easily with other people, though he is also able to communicate well with his dogs.
  • The earliest novel to feature this trope was the 12th-century Arabic novel Hayy ibn Yaqzan, also known as Philosophus Autodidactus, where the protagonist Hayy is raised by a gazelle on a Deserted Island.
    • The 13th-century Arabic novel Theologus Autodidactus also features a protagonist, Kamil, raised in isolation from humanity on a deserted island.
  • Mowgli from The Jungle Book is arguably the Trope Codifier.
  • Tarzan as a child is an example of this, though he grows up to be an adult before he does much. He lives among apes and learns to act much like them — but, in the original, it's downplayed by the fact that these apes can talk their own language. The original Tarzan also teaches himself to read before he ever encounters other humans, so that tells something of how his mind is perfectly sharp even if he acts in some ways like a wild animal.
  • Hendrika the Baboon Woman from the Allan Quatermain novella Allan's Wife by H. Rider Haggard.
  • To a degree, Rickon Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire, as a consequence of losing his whole family, forming a mental bond with a borderline-feral wolf and having a amazon Wildling for a nanny. Which is actually pretty good preparation for Westeros politics.
  • Briefly mentioned in the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Crooked World. On a cartoon planet, Fitz accidentally causes a young woman who, being The Ingenue on a planet of characters fit for a children's cartoon, suffers from Virginity Makes You Stupid, to write to the Delivery Stork and ask for them to be brought a child. The stork, however, has trouble tracking him down, gets tired, and accidentally drops the baby in the jungle, but is reassured by the thought that the child will be raised by wolves.
  • The eponymous Firekeeper in the Firekeeper Saga, beginning with Through Wolf's Eyes. She's the only survivor of a group of colonists lead by the member of the royal family into some far distant wilderness, having been rescued and raised by large, easily man-like intelligence 'royal wolves'. Her conflict is how the king has lost all his other heirs and sent men east to search for survivors of the disastrous failure at colonization. They find her, with the proper hair color (red), the roughly proper age for it to have been possible for her to be his daughter, and her having his personal dagger (which was a symbol of his rank/royalty), and take her away to 'civilization'. Ironically, however she isn't even related to the prince - she's the child of some lowly gardener.
  • Big Alice Eyesore in The War Between The Pitiful Teachers And The Splendid Kids is raised by hyenas after her child psychologist parents forget/abandon her at a wild animal park and decide that the hyenas are better equipped to deal with Alice and her all-canine teeth. Her parents eventually return for her when she's about 11 or 13, but after learning that child psychology doesn't work on hyenas they abandon her for good at the horrible school where the story takes place. By the end of the book, Alice has been brought back from the dead (cryogenically frozen/coma?) and returned to her hyena family. She is the only kid who hasn't been forcibly aged or driven underground. She achieves a symbolic victory by climbing the highest tree in the park and declaring herself leader of her pack.
  • The protagonist in Roy Meyers' Dolphin Trilogy is raised by dolphins thanks to a whole string of Contrived Coincidences. First of all he is born with the mutant ability to hold his breath for long periods of time and survive greater depths than normal humans, and then his parents are killed in an explosion that causes him to be blown into the water just as a pod of dolphins arrive, one of which just happens to be a recently-bereaved and lactating mother...
  • The Empirium Trilogy: Simon turns into a feral child after spending a year on the desolate mountain he was transported to. He quickly learns how to kill and skin animals in order to feed himself.
  • The raised-by-dolphins idea is done much more realistically in Karen Hesse's The Music of Dolphins. The novel opens with the girl being recovered by humans and taken from her island. She is brought to a rehabilitation center in Boston, and placed with another feral child. The main character begins making progress, possibly due to her somewhat older age when she was orphaned. However, she regresses when she is unable to adapt to the many rules of human society, and returns to her dolphin pod at the end.
  • Parodied in How to Be a Superhero, in which being raised by wild animals is given as one of the possible origins. The authors then present the story of a child raised by oysters, then reveal at the end that he drowned 20 years ago and the oysters never noticed.
  • In The Night of the Triffids, Christine's father died when she was four, and she survived alone in the wilderness until the protagonist found her a decade later.
  • The titular character from the short story Wolf Alice by Angela Carter. She is raised from infancy by wolves and captured by a hunter who kills her "mother", then given to a group of nuns who attempt to domesticate her. They eventually decide she cannot be integrated into society and instead send her to live with a mysterious werewolf/vampire called the Duke. Though she performs some basic human behaviour, she never learns to speak.
  • Ketrin, featuring a bisexual teenage feral child raised by lupinoids (basically wolves) — who finds himself Taken for Granite and worshipped as a god by superstitious and very horny villagers.
    • It later turns out he isn't the only feral child. The lupinoids have been busy.
  • One chapter in More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark titled "The Wolf Girl" tells of a Wild Child who was Raised by Wolves.
  • In the short novel The Pack, the mysterious new kid at the school was raised by wolves from a young age (note: not from birth. He had a human mother for several years prior to living with the wolves). He's learned to adapt well enough, but he can be extremely quirky and eccentric at times, and was a textbook example when he was first found.
  • In Tale of the Troika by Strugatsky Brothers giant squids are sentient and very long-lived. As the squid Spyridon tells, their adults were wiped by pandemic around 14th century and the young ones grew unsupervised, which explains their bad behavior through much of recent human history. This segment is absent from the censored version used by translators.
  • The girl Amara in Knowledge Of Angels was raised by wolves, and is therefore used as an experiment to prove that knowledge of God is something one is born, not raised, with. The experiment proves inconclusive.
  • Blanche and Nora in Half-Life had a disquieting series of encounters with Donkeyskin, a profane feral child kept penned up by her abusive father.
  • Renée Fritzhaber from MARZENA, she's spent most of her youth in full isolation in a mental insitute being experimented on by the military, so being literate enough to read that makes her only half-wildling.
  • World War Z brings up ferals (children whose parents were killed but somehow managed to survive the zombpocalypse) a couple of times, such as when a soldier comments on having to shoot one because it attacked him. Most notably, one of the characters interviewed is Sharon, a patient at a feral child rehabilitation home. She's described as a very beautiful woman, who disturbingly has the mind and emotional development of a four-year old, which is when she lost her parents, along with the rest of her community when the zombies wiped them out. Her mother attempted to give her a Mercy Kill, but she was saved by a neighbor who had already lost her own children, and she has perfect recall of the events, but no emotional connection to them, nor any real understanding of them, much to the narrators discomfort. She can even give a nearly perfect onomatopeia of a gunshot.
  • Somewhither: This describes all children on the world of Cainem, which is inhabited by immortals. Once the mother gets bored of the newborn baby (which happens quickly, especially since pretty much all children are product of rape), she tosses it into the nearest body of water (so that it won't bother people with the noise of its cries) and leaves it there to fend for itself. As a result, pretty much all children end up what would be considered feral children on Earth.
  • The Witchlands: Owl is an underplayed example in that she's only been feral for about a year by the time Aeduan and Iseult find her, but she still barely speaks, prefers to go around barefoot, eats earthworms and prefers the company of mountain bats to people.
  • The Peculiar Night Of The Blue Heart: Downplayed for Lionel, who can behave like a boy but elects to act like an animal, but played straight for Marybeth when she is possessed by the ghost of the titular blue heart, to the point where even Lionel is disturbed. Lionel and the blue heart's ghost, a young girl, reach an understanding with the reveal that their desire to be wild animals instead of vulnerable children is borne of trauma: Lionel was abused by his father, and the girl was accidentally killed by her brother's friends. Coming to terms with their pain allows the ghost to pass on, and Lionel to lose some of his feral mannerisms.
  • Chronicles of Ancient Darkness: The protagonist Torak was Raised by Wolves, but only for a few months, and then raised by his father for the next 12 years. Tokoroths, on the other hand, are children abused and starved until they become empty shells suitable for Demonic Possession. They play the trope much straighter, though it's debatable whether they're even children after the demons take over.
  • In Harry Turtledove's Worldwar series, the alien species "The Race" is precocial, able to walk and even hunt almost as soon as they hatch from their eggs. Despite this, they only develop language and complex reasoning skills after several years. They describe their childrearing habits as more like domestication than what humans do, since they spend most of that time keeping the hatchlings from injuring each other or escaping into the wild until they are old enough to be educated. Though rare, there are documented occurrences of hatchlings being discovered in the wild years after hatching, where they have grown into functional wild animals.
  • Me, Who Dove into the Heart of the World: After Lorena Nieto's daughter Karen turned out to be mentally disabled, Lorena made no effort to educate or parent her, and completely ignored her when she wasn't beating her. For the first nine years of her life, Karen roamed the property naked and covered in filth, communicating only in grunts. Lorena's staff didn't even know Karen was hers - they thought she was a stray Lorena allowed to sleep in her basement. It isn't until after Lorena's death that Karen is taken in by her aunt Isabelle, who teaches her to talk.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones: Rickon Stark seems to be as of "The Ghost of Harrenhal". By this point in the series, he has now spent the majority of his life on the run, knowing only fear and violence and hiding in solitude to survive. It's doubtful he's obtained any of the skills needed to rule.
  • The Six Million Dollar Man episode "The Wolf Boy".
  • Manimal (being about well... a man who can change into animals) naturally played with this trope, though the Wild Child is an adult. The feral woman only speaks in wolf-like noises, including howling in distress when the cell she was locked in caught on fire, and at one point looked as though she's deciding between eating the food she stole, or the animal she just stole it from. Her hair had some real stylish bangs for someone raised by wolves.
  • The Wizard used a Recycled Script from the Manimal episode above, and as such, also featured a wild child that had to be saved from a fire, among other plot points.
  • Thunder in Paradise used a Recycled Script from the Manimal episode above, only this time the wild child was a young boy.
  • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Time's Orphan" involves Chief O'Brien's young daughter, Molly, accidentally falling through some kind of temporal anomaly into a prehistoric wilderness. By the time they're able to pull her back through, she has experienced something like 10 years there entirely alone. She barely remembers her own name or how to speak, and behaves much like the stereotypical cavewoman might be expected to. After a difficult period of not being able to adjust, and seeing how happy she was in a holographic recreation of her wilderness home, O'Brien and his wife realize that she just doesn't belong there anymore and take her back to the anomaly for her own well being. Fortunately, she somehow arrives in the past only a few minutes after Young Molly first arrived and is able to send her younger self back through to the future, happily reuniting the O'Briens with their daughter mere moments after they thought they had to give her up forever. The happy ending is tempered when the adult Molly ceases to exist because of the paradox.
  • Kamen Rider Amazon: The Hero, Daisuke, was raised by a tribe in the Amazonian jungle. This is best reflected in his fighting style, which often sees him graphically sever the limbs of his opponents.
  • There was a made-for-TV movie that became a short-lived TV series called Lucan in the late seventies that was about a boy raised by wolves for the first ten years of his life, then by research scientists for the next ten. He struck out on his own and had to deal with human society while using and controlling his wolfen instincts and physical gifts. "Lucan" was actually his pronunciation of "you can," after he solved a puzzle correctly and the scientist helping him pointed to it and said those words.
  • The Pretender episode "Wild Child". A feral girl is found near a wood pile, and Jarod poses as a psychiatrist to figure out her story.
    • The girl (Jarod names her "Violet") was in a plane crash as a young child, and was the only survivor. A psychologist from a nearby university found her shortly afterwards. Instead of helping her, he set up a bunch of video cameras so he could study her behavior of how she survives in this environment. This seems to be adapted from Nell (1993); one of the doctors studied Nell this way. Violet was the name of Nell's mother.
  • The Gunsmoke episode called "The Lost" features a wild child, a young girl. Kitty is wandering in the badlands after being injured in a stage wreck. The girl has lived out there for several years and is believed to be the sole survivor of an epidemic that killed everyone in her village. After the girl is rescued from the hillbillies, Kitty takes her to the home of Mrs. Roniger (Peggy Rea), a recurring character who runs a kind of unofficial orphanage for seventeen children (including the triplets from "Baker's Dozen") and believes "children ain't no problem, they just need to be loved." The girl is was then captured by some not-so-nice people who planned sell her for money. If the little girl hadn't made noise on the way through Dodge, and attracted Festus' attention, they might have gotten away with it.
  • In The Adventures of Superboy episode "The Road to Hell", Superboy ends up in an alternate universe where his ship landed in the jungle instead of in Smallville, leading to the alternate Kal-El becoming this.
  • One early episode of The X-Files featured an investigation into the "Jersey Devil" myths, which ended with the death of a feral woman who showed every indication of having lived like a wild animal in the Pine Barrens. The episode's closing shot shows a Wild Child, presumably her offspring, peering out of some bushes.

  • The song "Wild Child" by The Doors.
  • "Snow-Hen of Austerlitz", by Rasputina, is about a girl whose blind old mother thinks her daughter is a bird. The girl is kept with her mother's other pet birds, and learns to behave like them.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Older Than Dirt: Enkidu in The Epic of Gilgamesh lived in the wilderness without human contact, but he was already an adult by the time Gilgamesh met him. He was turned into a civilized man with sex and beer. Those Mesopotamians sure had their priorities straight!
  • In Classical Mythology, Atalanta was abandoned and nursed by a bear before hunters discovered her. Some versions say that she had a bearlike hunting style her whole life as a result.
  • The American tall tale of Pecos Bill: he was raised by coyotes.
  • There's a tale (of unknown veracity) of an Egyptian Pharaoh who supposedly ordered two children to be raised without anyone speaking to them in order to see what language they would start speaking. Yeesh. Supposedly, they said the word "becos", which meant "bread" in another local language (Phrygian), but which sounded very similar to the sounds made by sheep nearby, which the infants could hear through the window.
  • Romulus and Remus were famously Raised by Wolves (or rather, a she-wolf). This did not impede their future career as the founders of Rome. Note: The word for female wolf in latin is the same word as that used for prostitute.
  • One origin for the German folk character Knecht Ruprecht claims that he was one, taken in by St. Nicholas.
  • In Celtic Mythology, Finn MacCool's first wife, Sadhbh, was pregnant when she gets transformed into a deer by the evil fairy/druid Fear Doirche; she runs off into the woods, never to be seen again. Years later, Finn encounters a naked seven-year-old boy on the mountain Benbulbin and realizes that this was the child whom Sadhbh had been carrying. Finn names him Oisin, which means "young deer." He picks up human speech very quickly, however, and in fact becomes a legendary poet.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000
    • Leman Russ, primarch of the Space Wolves, was raised by wolves the size of horses.
    • The primarch of the Night Lords, Konrad Curze a.k.a. Night Haunter, wasn't raised by anything, growing up alone on the streets of Nostramo. He was not the most stable primarch, though, and grew up into a terrifying hybrid of his namesake and Batman.
    • Dark Angel primarch Lion El'Jonson spent the first ten years of his life alone in a jungle before being discovered by humans. He turned out as well-adjusted as the setting allows, if a bit taciturn and secretive. He never spoke of his experiences in the wild. Though it was suggested in Gav Thorpe's Angel of Darkness that he grew paranoid from the experience.
  • Second edition Dungeons & Dragons had this in one of the splat-books as an option for some players.

  • In RATZ, a reimagining of the Pied Piper fairytale, the town's problem is not actual rats but a whole gang of feral children, who communicate in their own language and hiss when startled. They also steal other children.

    Video Games 
  • Sticks the Badger from Sonic Boom. While she speaks just fine, she has a lot of loopy ideas that come from living alone, and is extremely paranoid. Though sometimes, her crazy ideas turn out to be right.
  • Baba from F-Zero, according to his backstory.
  • Guy of Final Fantasy II. He speaks beaver.
  • Gau of Final Fantasy VI was abandoned by his father at a very young age and had to survive alone on the Veldt. He speaks broken English, and usually moves around on all fours, but otherwise is never shown to have any trouble fitting in with the rest of the party.
    • Unfortunately, Gau's wild nature only really comes up in three places: his dialogue ("Gau! Gau!"), his in-battle specialty (Rage, which allows him to copy monsters' skills and abilities), and an optional cutscene where his father is finally found and the party does their best to clean up his manners and appearance. Gau's father doesn't recognize Gau, but does compliment him (he must have cleaned up nicely) and say that his "father must be proud".
  • Yet another Final Fantasy example occurs in the Crystal Chronicles Ring of Fates. Gnash, a Selkie boy, is found living alone in the woods and joins the party. He can communicate in broken English, but Never Learned to Talk, Speaks Fluent Animal, and tends to judge things by how they taste.
  • In Granblue Fantasy, the Eternal Threo/Sarasa lived in a forest along with wild animals when she was still young, which leads to her rather simple thought process and strange personal values. She uses her instincts when differentiating friend from foe, and relies on her sense of smell when tracking enemies. Other characters, even her fellow Eternals comment on this "beastly" side of her a lot.
  • There's a part of Iris's backstory in Pokémon Black and White that says she was raised by dragon Pokémon.
    • It's a massive plot point for N, since being raised by Pokémon gave him the unique ability to understand Pokémon Speak as clearly as human language. Sadly, his adjustment to human society has been... problematic, largely because the humans "adjusting" him didn't exactly have his best interests at heart.
    • Part of the series lore is an orphaned human psychic child who was raised by Kadabra and Abra. Luckily, this line has human-level intelligence, and while the child couldn't speak verbally when other humans found him, the Kadabra had trained him to communicate telepathically, leaving him relatively well-adjusted.
  • In The Flame in the Flood, Scout can encounter a pair of "Feral Children", who are actually quite friendly and helpful despite their shabby appearance and their poor grasp of English.
  • The 'Feral Man' is one of the random people that can be encountered in Red Dead Redemption II. He is naked, communicates by howling, and runs with a pack of wolves.
  • Tales of the Abyss has Arietta the Wild, a human girl raised by ligers, more specifically, the very liger the party kills, You Bastard!. Arietta falls over the Despair Event Horizon offscreen over this and never really recovers until her death, also, while she was more wild, she was assimilated thanks to Ion, the liger upraising is still there.
  • Razor from Genshin Impact has lived most of his life amongst wolves and away from humans in Wolvendom, a secluded valley west of Mondstadt city. He can communicate very well in the human language, but his dialogue is notably stilted.


    Web Original 
  • Parodied by The Onion, with a girl raised by Wolf Blitzer.
  • The SCP Foundation has SCP-811, a "swamp woman" who is implied to have lived alone in a swamp from a very young age.
  • How to Hero claims that being raised by evil wolves is one of the most common supervillain origin stories.

    Western Animation 
  • The Wild Thornberrys:
    • Donnie. It's eventually explained that he just swung on a vine into the Thornberrys' shot while they were in Borneo, and they became his foster parents when nobody could figure out who he belonged to. A TV movie eventually explores his backstory: his primatologist parents were killed by poachers, and he was cared for by a mother orangutan who eventually saw the Thornberrys and urged Donnie to go with them.
    • One episode has Donnie finding a girl similar to him in the jungle who was raised by leopards.
  • "Cub" from Little Bear is essentially a bear version of this, acting more like a wild animal then the other Funny Animal bears.
  • In She-Ra: Princess of Power, the episode "Wild Child," of course. The child in question is physically stronger and faster than other children in her age group, can talk to the wolf-like creatures that adopted her and for bonus points, is a ship-wrecked princess.
  • It's strongly implied that Steven Universe's Amethyst was a semi-feral child hanging out alone in a deserted canyon until she was taken in by the others.
  • Fee and Foo from Harvey Beaks were separated from their parents at a very young age, then spent the next couple years with only each other in the forest, foraging for food and sleeping in the trees. However, once they moved to Littlebark, the Beaks family were willing to provide for the twins when needed, making their outdoor living more of a voluntary lifestyle that doesn't keep them from regular social interaction.
  • Parodied in Phineas and Ferb, where Dr. Doofenshmirtz spent a significant portion of his childhood being raised by wild ocelots instead of his comedically unnurturing parents. Enough time, as it happens, to be considered an ocelot on legal paperwork. And the ocelots are all but stated to have been considerably more caring than his actual parents, since he never once comes up with an evil scheme based around that part of his life.

    Real Life 
  • Genie (a pseudonym) experienced isolation, malnutrition, and confinement until she was thirteen. She developed numerous physical and cognitive difficulties as a result of the abuse, and is most known for how her lack of exposure to speech resulted in not acquiring a first language in childhood. Though she received medical and psychological care, she was turned into a research subject for people who wanted to study language acquisition, specifically the "critical period of language acquisition hypothesis". She made improvements in non-verbal communication and social skills, but also regressed when mistreated. Her case has since been used to discuss language development and ethics regarding human experimentation.

Alternative Title(s): Feral Child