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Wise Beyond Their Years
aka: Wise Beyond Her Years

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"I grow sick and tired of all the same old lies
I might be a little young, so what's wrong?
You don't have to be old to be wise."
Judas Priest, "You Don't Have to Be Old to Be Wise"

Children who are more mature than their age implies, with a solid comprehension of abstract concepts, good foresight and an understanding of human nature beyond what most kids their age have.

There are many ways to show that children are wise beyond their years: Kids who found themselves the head of a family and take their responsibilities seriously, the Kid Hero who actually treats their duty in a way an older hero does and doesn't simply see it it as an adventure, the teenager who refuses a stupid prank under all pressure, the cunning Enfant Terrible capable of planning and backstabbing that would make an Evil Overlord proud…

There may be a reason why these kids are what they are. Parental Abandonment (or even worse, a Teenage Wasteland) could force a kid to mature very fast, and a traumatic enough life could burn the childhood out of the most extreme and tragic examples of this trope. However, some of these characters are simply like this by nature.


This trope applies to a good portion of anime characters, probably to appeal to a young audience while still being able to let the characters exhibit more mature behavior, like engaging in fierce combat or taking up leadership roles. This consequently makes such characters more relatable to a mature audience as well, as long as it's done well and the matter of young age doesn't raise too many eyebrows.

Note that this is based on the mentality of the character. Just being shoved into an adult role won't cut it; the average Kid Hero and Bratty Half-Pint tend to be highly immature, after all. Intelligence tends to be different from maturity as well, some Kid Geniuses can invent hyperdrives in their backyard but act in a very childish manner everywhere else. A good number of kids under Improbable Age count, but if the kid is in a high-ranking position and still thinks like a kid, they won't fit here.


Frequently speaks in Little Professor Dialog and may enjoy Entertainment Above Their Age.

Contrast One of the Kids, Manchild, and Kiddie Kid. Compare Adorably Precocious Child, who tries to be like this but is still a kid at heart. Compare Child Prodigy, who is basically a TV Genius in child form. Innocent Prodigy is when a child really is like this, but still retains a childlike innocence in other aspects of life. If the character has an outgoing personality, they might be a Mouthy Kid or Little Miss Snarker, and when this character's maturity is displayed in a villainous light, they may become a Creepy Child. When every kid in a franchise acts like this (or at least most of them), it's probably because Most Writers Are Adults. Kids may be forced into this by living in a Teenage Wasteland. If the adultlike behavior is disturbing rather than impressive, it's Troubling Unchildlike Behavior. If a Child Prodigy acts like an adult in a child's world, rather than being thrust into the adult one, they're Acting Your Intellectual Age.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Assassination Classroom, the two young boys at the nursery act unusually mature for their age.
    First Boy: The action looks so real.
    Second Boy:'s much more stimulating than the Disney monopolized Hollywood.
    • The main peripheral character, Nagisa Shiota, counts as well. He can read people like a book, is always thinking ahead, sometimes acts as the class’s Only Sane Man, and tends to go on introspective musings that border on philosophical. He’s able to give good enough advice that his words successfully convince a party boy to not only stop smoking, but to use his talents for good purposes, and he also becomes something of a mentor figure for Sakura, so much so that he’s able to get her to go back to school and improve her grades.
  • Chiyo-chan from Azumanga Daioh can not only handle high school-level schoolwork, she also manages to be a class rep and hold down a part-time job, and is generally just as mature and capable as her teenaged friends. She's ten years old.
  • Haru from Beastars is more mature than the average third year student especially in regards to relationships and intimacy. As Juno puts it.
    "Why is this bunny so mature? [...] She talks like a grown-up, but sounds like a child."
  • Bleach:
    • It's hard to remember how young the children and teenagers are in this manga. Ichigo, Sado, Orihime and Uryuu start off as fifteen year olds, but are far more mature than their age wound indicate. Some of their classmates are the same, such as Tatsuki. Their Shinigami peers are the same: Renji, Rukia, Kira, Hinamori, Ganju, etc., are all teens but behave like adults.
    • Hitsugaya is (biologically) only 12-13 years old but doesn't behave like a typical child his age due to having been thrust into the role of youngest captain in history. Aizen works out that the truth is obscured and that Hitsugaya does actually have the in-built weaknesses associated with his biological youth (such as lacking both the life experience and emotional maturity of a grown adult). When Aizen triggers this weakness, the ignition of Hitsugaya's emotions into an Unstoppable Rage (and the other captains' inability to have foreseen this weakness) spells disaster for everyone.
  • Several of the Bokurano kids like Kirie, Moji and Kodama. But 10-year-old Kana takes it to borderline ridiculous levels. Accepting a constant abuse of her older brother Jun and preventing people around them from interfere, because she knows he's angry at their dead mother for her absence, and by taking it out to her he's in reality treating her as somewhat of the mother figure? Not even being Jun's blood-sister, but hiding it from him in order to make him feel secure, she devotes herself to finding his real mother. In the manga, while she's about to die it remains her biggest concern — because Jun's gonna need support after she's gone.
  • Pretty much any child from CLAMP:
    • Tomoyo from Cardcaptor Sakura is not only Genre Savvy, but is able to see the hidden intentions of every character she comes across even though she's a fourth-grader.
      • Even Eriol acknowledges Tomoyo's savviness.
    • Five year old Hatoko from Angelic Layer dispenses wisdom like Yoda but without the fractured syntax.
    • CLAMP School has the six year old kindergarten class president, and an adolescent Man Of Twenty Faces who steals large statues from under the noses of the police etc, and more.
    • Tsubasa Syaoran Li in Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- is only seven years old when he first went to Clow Country and met Sakura but somehow, he understands the concept of love, magic, and even deals with the sorcerers. He might as well be the most mature characters in the the series, even more than an adult like Fai or Kurogane.
  • Code Geass:
    • Kaguya Sumeragi, a fourteen-year-old girl with Puppy-Dog Eyes and a Precocious Crush on Zero, who often turns out to be one of the wisest, reasonable characters on the show and the one person Zero treats with complete respect while callously ordering around the rest of the Black Knights.
    • Nunnally seems to be in her way to become one of these in R2. After the end of the series, She rules Britannia, Tianzi Lihua, who's even younger than her, rules China, and Kaguya leads the UFN, with an unnamed girl around their age ruling (presumably) Europe (as seen in the Miracle Birthday OVA). So all of the world leaders are cute examples of this.
    • Don't forget; Lelouch is only 17 when the series begins. Older than most of the examples on this page, but still a little young for the kind of crazy stuff he pulls off. On top of that, he was already a Chessmaster in his early Britannia days.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Kagaya Ubuyashiki is a man of deep wisdom, far more than befits his age of only twenty three. He's seen as far wiser and more mature than men many years his senior. The most notable thing is the fact Kagaya managed to make Himejima, who’s 4 years older, consider him, the younger person, to be his father figure.
  • The human cast of Digimon Tamers exhibited a maturity way beyond their 10 to 11 years, one of several possible reasons their ages were raised in the English adaptations.
    • Every season of Digimon has one of these… even Digimon Frontier's Bokomon, who is the level named "child" in Japanese and who speaks and acts like a graduate student specializing in Digital World Mythology.
      • Henry/Jian of "Tamers" takes the cake though. It is stated above he's 10-11 in the Japanese version, yet he can hack almost any computer system if you give him a good reason, and uses the word incorrigible in a relatively casual conversation.
      • Mikey, Nene, and Christopher from Digimon Fusion act more mature than most adults, and they're only 13.
    • Sora and Joe are the most mature of the original cast of Digimon Adventure, and as such take up the roles of Team Mom and Team Dad respectively while Tai and Matt fight over leadership, thinking of responsible things like how they will get food, what best course of action to take, and how to keep the group together. Tai later matures up later in the season as well.
  • Child Lucy in Elfen Lied. Unfortunately, her childhood was traumatic enough to the point that she turned Ax-Crazy.
  • Most of FLCL revolves around how Naota rejects his childhood.
  • Fruits Basket: In the midst of a Big, Screwed-Up Family, Momiji is quite possibly the most mature of the Members of the Zodiac, even though he has as good of an excuse as anyone to be messed up. He seems to act half his age (because he can), but he tries to understand people, too, and shows a lot of surprising insight, especially about Tohru.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Alphonse Elric. While his older brother, Edward, wins critical acclaim time and time again for accomplishments thought ridiculous, Al consistently proves that he is rational, fair-minded and far-sighted far beyond his years. In fact, he often has to reign in Edward to prevent excess damage and often has to clean up if he's not able to prevent such excesses.
    • Edward himself proves to also be very wise and have a great understanding of the world, which in the end allowed him to recover his brother Alphonse by sacrificing his alchemy. The series put much emphasis in the growth and maturing of the Elric brothers and the characters in general. When we finally meet Ed and Al's alchemy master Izumi Curtis she comments how wise Edward must be to be able to perform alchemy without a circle however Ed responds that he isn't wise or clever; he just learned things he shouldn't have done by opening the gates of truth
    • In most cases Ling Yao is a perfectly good example of this serving. He keeps a cool head and is slow to anger and he notices things that others don't.
  • Tessa from Full Metal Panic! is only 16, yet she is the captain of a submarine. She also shows a great understanding of people and exhibits a very mature attitude. She's also damn good at her job. However, she is not completely immune from some general characteristics of teens.
    • Sōsuke is 16-17, and is a sergeant within a paramilitary counter-terrorist force. Although extremely immature for his age about relationships and social skills, he is shown to act very professional and understanding about things involving war. He was trained to be a professional assassin at age 8, and became a terrorist at 11.
  • Weed of Ginga Densetsu Weed is supposed to be this trope, though to most of the audience he comes across as being overly nice to the point where he makes bad decisions like letting other dogs that tried to kill him live. Imagine if during any real war, one side let ALL enemies soldiers go after they tried to kill their troops or worse leaders and it readily becomes apparent how stupid Weed's decisions are. It's sending them back to their army to kill again.
    • Well to be fair, in the manga, it was two random spies that Weed wanted to be merciful to after the spies begged for their lives. These dogs did not actively try to kill Weed or his comrades. The anime for some reason replaced the spies with the assassins Thunder and Lector. Also in the manga, it is directly shown that Gin had always agreed with Weed's stance on killing, and him seemingly trying to kill Hougen was actually a test to see if Weed was a true leader. In the anime, it is the same way but it's not as clearly explained. It's also worth noting that Gin let Sniper live in GNG even though the doberman tried to kill him and his comrades multiple times.
  • 13-14-year-old Victorique de Blois from Gosick, though she admittedly has traits common for a child of her age, such as curiosity and a love for sweets.
  • All the girls in Gunslinger Girl are aware that they are on borrowed time, and that their feelings for their handlers are at least partially the result of conditioning. Triela and Claes are the only two to have made their peace with the fact they will never see adulthood. Though they deal with the knowledge in opposite ways (despite being roommates).
  • Wendy Garret of GUN×SWORD, who's maybe 13-14, is in many ways more mature than her traveling companion, Van. More importantly, she functions as the moral center for the series, being one of the few characters to think deeply about the moral/ethical issues surrounding The Claw's plan.
  • Hanaukyō Maid Team. Grace is considerably more intelligent and wiser than the other maids, even though she's younger than they are.
  • Both Kyon and Koizumi of Haruhi Suzumiya fit. Kyon is a little too much of a jaded cynic for just being 16-years-old.
  • Fuji-hime from Harukanaru Toki no Naka de might fit this trope, since she is effectively the team's mentor — even if most of her knowledge comes from her ability to see the future, she is arguably more mature than some of the members of the central cast (whose age ranges from 14 to 32, with Fuji being only ten). Might have something to do with her destiny to assist the main character, but still...
  • 17-year-old Maria from Hayate the Combat Butler already has a full-time job as a maid, and is also mistaken for being in her late twenties or early thirties because of her maturity level.
    • Maria is continually pointed out to be not mature, but intelligent.
    • Hayate himself, almost certainly... he's a full sixteen now, but has already evaded the yakuza, served under Athena (who is supposed to be of similar age), and is already a prize-winning manga artist… seriously, with the luck factors so hard down his throat, he really had to be to make it past the age of 8…
      • Hayate clearly states that he supported his parents starting at 10. His bad luck is more of an informed ability than anything given that he is the main male in a harem story.
      • Though one could argue that that is bad luck considering the amount of physical and mental abuse he suffers because of it. Especially bad luck considering he is surrounded by a harem and yet is forced to be a Chaste Hero until he has enough money to support even one of the girls, which, given his 150 million yen debt, is highly unlikely.
    • Hinagiku also has a similar level of maturity, most of the major cast in on the low end of this trope as well, showing maturity beyond what someone would expect from a 16/13 year-old. Even Yukiji seems to have it, when it's not overshadowed by her Hard-Drinking Party Girl tendencies.
  • The Adorably Precocious Child Moldova of Hetalia: Axis Powers is adept at reading the atmosphere to properly deal with resident Psychopathic Manchild Russia, a feat many of the adult nations have not mastered. He turns instantly from a Cheerful Child to an obedient and subdued stoic (albeit with Empty Eyes) whenever Russia is near him.
  • Anna Kushina of K, particularly in Season 2 after she Awakens as the new Red King. Probably due to her empathic powers — if she's able to understand all sides to an argument, that gives her the experience to understand all different sorts of people enough to be truly wise, even at age 11.
  • Murasaki in Kure-nai yo-yos between believably childish behavior for her age of 7 and extremely adult-like decision making, especially near the ending of the series.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • The first time we see the 9-year-old heroine Nanoha she's pondering the direction and purpose of her life. Later, when she discovers her powers, she almost immediately takes a responsible view of them akin to Spider-Man, except her wakeup call was property damage rather than the death of a loved one. Her parents also don't seem to mind their daughter taking time off from school to chase after magical artifacts.
    • The series also introduces us to Hayate. A wheelchair-bound 9-year-old who takes care of the Wolkenritter as their mother figure. Even before then, she had been living independently for who knows how long after her parents died. You'd expect that her guardian would at least have an adult look after her, especially considering her disability. In any event, it's highly unlikely that any social service would let this one slide.
    • Interestingly enough, Hayate, looking back on her childhood in Sound Stage M4, laments that she feels as though she hasn't grown up since then. Signum then responds that she has grown up at a reasonable pace, and that by comparison, Fate grew up too quickly.
    • Several other characters are like this as well, especially the calm and mature (if originally single-minded) Dark Magical Girl Fate, Adventurer Archaeologist Yuuno and interdimensional cop Chrono (who actually starts off under the command of his own mother in a sort of pseudo-subversion). One can assume that either Midchilda does not have the same cultural or legal expectations about Age of Majority that most Earth cultures do, or very clear laws allowing exceptions.
    • The only real aversion is Vivio, who actually acts like the 6-year-old she's supposed to be. Although this only applied when she was 6. By the time she hits 10, she's just as mature as everyone else.
  • Shiro Kabuto from Mazinger Z and Great Mazinger seems pretty mature for his age (specially compared with Kouji), and actually he is smarter than he looks. This is because Shiro is a full-fledged Iron Woobie is forced to life on his own withou a parents' care. His parents were dead, it is implied his grandfather Juzo spent most of his time building Mazinger-Z, and Kouji is busy handling the household jobs and going to school, thus leaving him alone. And let's not forget his supposedly dead father was too busy building Great Mazinger to take care of them AND tell them he was alive.
  • Haman Khan from Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam is this trope, being the cool, mature Neo-Zeon commander at the age of 20-21. While this is in part due to her competence and Newtype capabilities, it's also justified due to having been made the de facto leader of Axis as a young teen, forcing her to grow up far quicker. While works like Char's Deleted Affair further show her transformation from optimistic wide-eyed girl to embittered if chillingly dangerous woman.
  • Lacus Clyne in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED inherits control over a large anti-war faction in ZAFT from her father at the tender age of 16, and immediately engages in skillful political maneuvering and alliance-building surprising pretty much everyone who saw her as just another gentle pop-singer. While doing all that, she also somehow finds the time to play the therapist for both of the series' male leads, Kira and Athrun, and eventually brings both (and their mechs) under her banner, which serves to boost her faction's firepower considerably.
  • Naruto:
    • Shikamaru, though you may pass him off as just a Teen Genius but he also already has plans for the future including his marriage, how many kids he wants and when he'll die. Not to mention he was willing to have both himself and his best friends go up against a much stronger opponent that would most likely kill them as to further the mission. This is all when he's 12/13. As Child Soldiers most of the cast would qualify but Shikamaru is the best example.
    • Itachi and Kakashi's backgrounds cast them as even more extreme cases: Itachi graduated the academy top of the class at 7 (all of the main cast did that at 12), passed the chuunin exams at 10, and became an ANBU captain at 13. He joined Akatsuki at 14 or 15. Kakashi graduated at five, passed the chuunin exam one year later, and became a jonin under special condition at 13.
    • Another good example is Sasuke, who was designed specifically to be in this trope as a contrast to Naruto. The author even revealed that he had trouble drawing him at first because he had a lack of experience in drawing characters who are "wise beyond their years".
    • A far more convincing example would be Gaara post-Heel–Face Turn: after years of serving as Sunagakure's Fifth Kazekage, he has not only become far more intuitive and rational compared to his hot-headed equals from other villages, he is also far more compassionate even to a now-Ax-Crazy Sasuke and a troubled Naruto.
      • Case and Point: his response to Tobi's Assimilation Plot?
        Gaara: Peace under an illusion is not true peace. Peace is only meaningful when the world manages to accomplish it.
    • Hinata Hyuga is the only one who sees Naruto for who he truly is long before any of the other characters do. She offers him assurance and gives him back his confidence as Naruto fights Neji. Before that, though, she sees and understands Neji for the troubled and suffering soul he really is, which really set him off.
    • Rock Lee is so wise and mature in comparison to the other Konoha 12 that Masashi Kishimoto says he's the only one that doesn't need anymore Character Development.
    • Almost all the child characters count to varying degrees, at least when compared to real kids their age. Justified that they live in a society where kids are given huge responsibilities from an early age, even being able to become ninja.
  • While 10-year-old Negi of Negima! Magister Negi Magi still very much enjoys being a kid, he has dedicated months of time to brutal Training from Hell, shown a deep understanding of both his friends and enemies, and has a powerful drive to find his father, such that he is willing to make great personal sacrifices. This on top of being a high school teacher of a Wacky Homeroom.
    • This gets covered in lampshades during second half of the Mahora festival arc, where just about everybody states that Negi is too young to be thinking about the moral implications of protecting the The Masquerade. Later on, he gets all sorts of speeches about how he should just act like a normal kid and stop worrying about everything. None of them penetrates his thick skull.
    • Negi is a Deconstruction of this trope as he literally has no idea how to be a child. Once when he was on vacation and was supposed to just have fun he tried approaching it the same way he does everything else: by carefully analyzing the situation and coming up with most efficient solution, until Asuna told him he should just relax for once.
    • There's also Yue. Fourteen-year-old high school student versed in philosophy and Negi's sounding board for moral dilemmas.
    • Chisame also qualifies, as she arguably has the best grip on reality out of everyone, and Jack Rakan even identifies her as being the advisor that Negi benefits most from.
    • Satsuki Yotsuba is head cook of a roadside cantina that she established with her fellow classmates. At the age of 14, she already has her future planed and is actively working to achive it. Even Evangeline respects her.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • Asuka is a 14-year-old Teen Genius and something of a special case. On one level she understands just how suicidally dangerous being a pilot is, and has made peace with it (at least at first). She also shows impressive understanding of other people's motivations and relations (with the notable exception of Rei — she's aware of Misato/Kaji, just in denial). On the flip side, she is very short-tempered and bratty.
    • There's also Rei, who is cited by another character as seeming "far older" than the rest of them.
  • Doremi's sister Pop in Ojamajo Doremi, so much that her parents let her go on a train trip by herself. She's five years old at the time. Although it's clear at least that their mom Haruka was worried, as she asked Doremi to keep an eye on her after Pop had gone.
  • Almost every single one of the Pokedex Holders/Owners in Pokémon Adventures. With little exception, some more than others; a vast majority of them from the first four generations act like teenagers, if not older, including Idiot Hero Gold, despite the average age being eleven (and in Sapphire's case, ten), with some of them even thinking of their future careers already. This is especially noticeable with Blue (especially jarring since his game counterpart could easily qualify as a Bratty Half-Pint if the player wasn't the same age as him), Green and Silver, though Green and Silver have the excuse of a Dark and Troubled Past explaining their Troubling Unchildlike Behavior, with the only exceptions being Diamond, Red (at least initially) and maybe Sapphire, Emerald, and Sun but even they have their moments. Ironically in the case of Black in the fifth generation, his initial characterization arguably actually made him act like how someone the age of previous Dex Holders should have (though even then the Dex Holders of the fifth generation save for Black had the distinction of actually having jobs, one of them even being self-employed and another being an International police officer). Then the X and Y arc showed that X actually was a full-time professional battler as a child, and the Sun and Moon arc has Sun in millions of dollars in debt and Moon as an established pharmacist; it's heavily implied this is normal for the manga universe, however, if the fact that no one seems to think this is strange is any indication.
  • Every single member of the Arcobaleno in Reborn! (2004) qualifies. Reborn himself could be a serious contender for poster boy of the trope, even before we knew the other six. Actually an Averted Trope as it turns out that they're all adult assassins cursed with the appearance of infants.
  • Sailor Moon: Ami Mizuno (Sailor Mercury) is only 14-years-old, yet is the most mature of the Senshi and always cares about studying even when she doesn't need to. Being a Shrinking Violet who becomes the first of the Senshi for Usagi to befriend certainly helps.
  • Sasami of Tenchi Muyo! is this, especially after the first OVA series. Cooks and cleans for the household, the more levelheaded of the bunch, sweet and adorable and closest thing to an adult in the house is Katsuhito, who lives in the shrine instead of in the house. On the other hand, a lot of this may be a cover because she thinks she's actually just a vessel for Tsunami and that the real Sasami's dead. Which isn't the case.
  • To Love Ru has Mikan, the main character's little sister, as one of the most mature characters in the cast. Except for not hitting puberty yet, of course.
  • In the flashback arc of Trigun we get young Knives. Levelheaded, charming, genius programmer—one year old. He's also got a fair helping of cynicism and subscribes increasingly to a utilitarian philosophy, which eventually propels him into deciding to Kill All Humans. But hey. He was unreasonably wise all the same.
    • Manga child-Knives was actually slightly more childlike than manga Vash; he's the source of statements like "there's no difference between people's hearts and ours, so everyone can learn to understand each other." Both of them still qualify for wise beyond their years for talking philosophy when they look eight and are actually one.
      • Their response to the Tesla revelation is electing to sit down right there and stay there until they die, rather than running to their mother figure and if not asking her for comfort at least confronting her about her betrayal. Tell me that's not unchildlike.
    • Manga Wolfwood was shot for the first time when he was eight or so, and suddenly realized that he wanted to live, after all. Anime Wolfwood was abused and offed the bastard at a slightly older age.
      • Manga Wolfwood was subjected to medical treatments that aged him at an accelerated rate, and based on the ages of the other kids in the orphanage in the flashback and when he returns, he can't be older than eighteen when he dies, which makes him no more than sixteen when he met Vash. So he's kind of this for the entire series.
    • Little Legato is somewhere between eight and thirteen, probably on the younger side, but his response to Knives appearing and killing everyone but him, including the building they were raping him inside, is… uniquely calm, to say the least.
    • And possibly Zazie the Beast, anime version. Or he may be an adult with a hormone condition. Data insufficient.
    • Every kid on this list except Vash is also under Creepy Child.
  • Rihoko in the Witchblade anime, to the point of being smarter than her mother.
  • Chiru from Xabungle is all of 8 but consistently manages to be one of the more level-headed characters in a cast of teens and adults. This is significant, since in 1981 children in anime, if they weren't the main character or in a cast of mostly kids, were typically The Load or a Bratty Half-Pint.
  • Seto Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh! He pretty much threw his childhood in the dumpster when he promised to always take care of and protect Mokuba. The fact that he rarely smiles and is exceedingly serious, not to mention he runs his own company, despite being only perhaps in his late teens/early twenties is actually commented on by several of the characters, notably Joey, Tristan, and Tea. Plus, the guy beat a chess grandmaster at age twelve, and then proceeded to turn ten thousand dollars into about ten million dollars in the course of one day, when he had a year to do it.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • While Tim Drake may start out as the most "normal" of the Robins, with living non-criminal parents even, his mother's, father's, girlfriend's and best friends' murders along with living in and working as a hero in Gotham and Bludhaven which has exposed him to some of the worst humanity has to offer has sobered up the already incredibly smart young detective and made him learn to be clever and manipulative in new ways.
    • Damian Wayne, son of Bruce and Talia al-Ghul, starts out as your average Bratty Half-Pint. Slowly, beginning in Batman and Robin, under the constant tutelage of Dick Grayson and after being given a couple of lessons in teamwork by Tim Drake, sheds his brash cockiness, evolving into an overtly serious, competent but gloomy hero. Basically, a little clone of his daddy. Stephanie Brown, the third Batgirl (not counting Helena Bertinelli) comes actually to pity his utter inability to act his age anymore, being a ten-year-old kid unable to play or interact with other children, but deadly competent in crimefighting and investigation, with snarker-tendencies.
    • Bruce Wayne himself, in several renditions of the mythos, is known to have never smiled again after the unfortunate death of his parents, shedding his childhood at once to hasten his growth into the deadly crime-fighter we know currently. Lampshaded in the animated retelling of the mythos, Justice League Unlimited, where, after temporarily being turned into children by a magical spell, Wonder Woman merrily quips how it was kind of nice to be a kid again. Batman simply shrugs, and shatters her joyful spirit by muttering "I haven't been a kid since I was eight years old."
  • Huey, Dewey and Louie, the nephews of Donald Duck, frequently come across this way in the stories of Carl Barks. Of course, next to ill-tempered, irresponsible, immature "Unca Donald" and even greedy, miserly, tunnel-visioned Uncle Scrooge, it doesn't take much to be the most responsible ones in the room, especially when aided by a Hive Mind and a Great Big Book of Everything.
  • Most members of the Legion Of Superheroes are like this, to the point that it can be easy to forget that they're (usually) teenagers.
  • Elaine Belloc from Lucifer, particularly after she returns from the dead and loses both her naivete and crush on the title character. (The readers subsequently learn that even before her death a teacher described her as "twelve going on forty)."
  • PS238:
    • Zodon, due to his four-digit IQ, has the mental age of a very cynical thirty-year-old in a seven-year-old body and most of his actions tend to fly over the heads of his classmates as a result.
    • Another offender would be Victor Vonfogg, who is just about as smart (but more prone to stereotypical Evil Genius behavior).
    • Tom Davidson, the time- and space-traveler, is another example of this trope as his abilities allows him to see things other people can't (and never will). His description as having a "Gandalf the Grey vibe" pretty much fits like a glove.
    • Tyler Marlocke also falls under this trope, as a normal kid whose being forced to go through a curriculum designed for people with superpowers by his parents, he often has to rely on his innately sensible nature in order to simply survive. After he becomes the de-facto main character, he is able to solve many problems simply through a heaping helping of good, old-fashioned common sense and some rather advanced deductive abilities. It helps that later on he gets occasional supplementary lessons from local Badass Normal and Batman expy, Revenant.
    • Cecil Holmes, Tyler's best friend, falls into this trope as well. While he is a paranoid Conspiracy Theorist who thinks the world is under constant threat of alien infiltration, the conspiracy he suspects is real. Due to some trickery on Tyler's part and some help from the Revenant, he actually becomes a federal agent, and proves to be more professional and competent than most of the adults in similar positions.
  • The Spirit's sidekick Ebony White. About eleven and can drive a car, has a thorough understanding of the city, finds minutiae info his hero misses, crafty with tools, can knock out an adult using any handy heavy object, a dead aim with a slingshot, and good at research. So what if his pronunciation makes Popeye look erudite!
  • Layla Miller from X-Factor. She knows stuff. It was eventually revealed that she's like that because her future self loaded her memories into the brain of her present self.

    Comic Strips 
  • Huey Freeman in The Boondocks, moreso than the show below. Especially as time goes on and his character is fleshed out. To the point where his lawyer neighbor often comes to him for poignant, intellectual conversation instead to his political-activist wife.
  • Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes. He has no grasp of basic math, zero work ethic, and a severe case of ADD, but often shows a grasp of complex philosophical principles.
  • Little Orphan Annie: Annie shocks adults in her world with her pluck, charisma and knowledge of business and philosophy. Plus thanks to training while the ward of Daddy Warbucks, a substantial knowledge of boxing and karate.
  • Linus from Peanuts is often a good source of advice.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In "The Wise Little Girl", the poor brother's seven-year-old girl became accustomed to look after herself while her father was away, with the result that she is exceptionally smart and clever for her age.

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami has Child Prodigy Ami Mizuno being turned into Keeper Mercury, forcing her to become the leader of several scientific projects, military ventures and diplomatic struggles while having adults and even immortal beings working for her as her subordinates and employees.
  • Nolan Grant in The Walking Dead fanfic, Stay Together . Nolan is very smart, perceptive, and wise for his age. He is also quite mature even more than Clementine.
  • Faust, AEther, Alchemy, and young Prowl in Things We Don't Tell Humans.
  • The entirety of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality revolves around the titular character, and arguably several others, being this.
  • In The Fairly Oddparents fanfic Never Had a Friend Like Me, Amanda often cleans the house while her parents are away and can prepare basic meals for herself despite only being 8. She also figures out that Timmy has Fairy Godparents after less than two days of knowing him (though to be fair, she had the advantage of actually knowing that Fairies do exist) and has the self-restraint and responsibility not to make a wish for two months when most adults immediately start recklessly making wishes as well as recognizing that magic is not a cure-all solution (pointing out that she doesn't want friends who only put up with her because she used magic). Norm even remarks that Amanda is smarter and more mature then most adults he's met. This is something of a deconstruction however as the reason she's so responsible is because of the severe neglect her parents treat her with, meaning she had to grow up early to cope with her family life.
  • Similarly, in Kill la Kill AU, we have this with a then six-year old Ragyo, in a way, as she learned how to cook and pretty much take care of herself, and, as she's noted, that came from the fact that her mother was neglectful, making that also a deconstruction.
  • Jack in Cave Story vs IM Meen. Probably one of the smartest fictional characters in years, yet also one of the saddest and funniest. Not to mention the most badass and adorable.
  • Shinji in Thousand Shinji is more intelligent -and more conniving- than your average teenager. At one point, Kaworu mentions that he was told that Shinji was wise beyond his years.
  • The Second Try: Physically, Shinji and Asuka are teenagers. Mentally, they're in their early twenties, and they have the emotional maturity of a person at least 10 years older than that. With everything they'd been through, it was a choice between growing up fast or not getting to grow up at all.
  • Once More with Feeling: After traveling to the past, Shinji looks (naturally) like a teenager. However he is rather older mentally and emotionally. Kaji notes that Shinji often seems an adult instead of a kid.
  • Shinji And Warhammer 40 K: Shinji is fourteen and practically a Mary Tzu (at least partly due to the influence of Warhammer). This is a bit of a weird theme with Neon Genesis Evangelion fanfics.
  • Played straight and deconstructed, or at least one character points out the bad in this trope, in the fanmade novelization Breath of the Wild.
    • Played straight with the Zora. They're described as maturing slower than other races thanks to their much longer overall lives. Many times, a mature-minded Zora will still have the body of a child because they've already lived out a long life, even though they hadn't grown yet.
    • Just like in canon, Chief Riju of the Gerudo is a 12-year-old girl who is the Chief of her people. She's actually quite good at it, and rules with a regality, formality, and a decent efficiency. But Link doesn't think that this is a good thing. In his eyes, this little girl is losing her childhood innocence far too early in life. Link believes that children should get to be immature and childish. In his eyes, Riju isn't mature for her age, but rather, she's adopted intense coping mechanisms to survive her current situation, in which she is a child leading an entire race of Amazonian Gerudo women.
  • Deconstructed in Frenzy. Tails bemoans his lack of innocence at only 8 years old and envies 6-year old Cream for her short-sighted, naive view on the world. He wishes he hadn't grown up so quickly.
  • In The Raven's Plan, due to the plot's mental time-travel hook, the Starks are very disquieted to arrive at House Umber and find that Ned Umber is a 2 year old with the mind of at least a teenager. He also mentions that the same can probably be said for Lyanna Mormont.
  • Missy "Vista" Biron from Worm story Atonement is only thirteen (later fourteen), but Madison picks up from the start that she's one of the team's most mature members.
  • In Worm crossover Echoes of Yesterday, Kara is eighteen, but she talks like an experienced adult, and her advice is usually wiser and more insightful than what you expect from someone who has barely reached adulthood. Of course, losing your planet and almost everyone who you've cared for at the age of fifteen before being dumped into an alien world forces you to mature fast.
    Taylor: (whispering) "God that hurts."
    Kara: "Life isn't fair. But I've also found that if you have the will and keep pushing forward… it has a habit of coming back around. No one's problems fix themselves, but no problem is unsolvable. Just takes a little work."
    Taylor: "Are you sure you're eighteen?"
  • Insomnia has Link. By his own admission he's only ten years old, and looks it, but he behaves like a grizzled warrior who's seen too many battles. And that's just the tip of the iceberg, as Tatl explains in this rant from chapter 38:
    Tatl: Link, you're weird for all kinds of reasons. You fight giant monsters like it's just another day's work. You move with that sword and aim that bow like the hero of some kind of folk tale, the kind where the hero wins, and you're not even old enough to have facial hair. When we met, you were casually strolling around the forest with a little blue thing that changes the flow of time, and you just left it sitting on your belt for any old mugger to take... You have clearly handled explosives before because I haven't even seen grown carpenters use bombs without wetting themselves a little bit. You're all kinds of insane, you're one giant boy-shaped ball of contradiction; I don't even think there's such thing as a boy-shaped ball; and you know way too much about time travel for anyone under the age of one thousand. So, uh, the fact that you seem a little more calm than you ought to sometimes? That's not really a standout.
  • In A Glad Day, Romayn develops very quickly and is able to grasp adult concepts as a baby. It helps that he's Goku reincarnated.
  • Surprising Butterflies: Deconstructed with both Rika and Mion. As clan heirs, they were forced to grow up too soon and feel they had the chance to act like children.
  • Heroes Never Die: Dying over and over has given Izuku experience easily comparable to Pro Heroes. Death Arms internally notes that when he first saw Izuku rush to save Bakugo, the look on his face made him think he was a pro who had just arrived on the scene.
  • Her Max: Ruby has always been an Adorably Precocious Child but she had to mature quickly after the death of her parents. It's mentioned that at seven she has the maturity of a twelve year old.
  • Miraculous! Rewrite: Nora worries that Hawkmoth's various assaults upon Paris have forced Alya and her peers to grow up too fast. Hawkmoth preys upon her fears to akumatize her into Hecate, who manipulates the physical ages of her victims and attempts to transform Alya and her peers back into 'innocent children'.
  • The Seventh Player: Machaira Mekhit, the titular seventh member of the Bad Kids, often shows her hand as being this. Specifically, she's of the "traumatic life destroying one's innocence" caliber of this trope.
  • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail: Parker Cerise is the younger brother of Chloe Cerise and is shown to have a broader grasp of what's going on: when learning that his sister ran away, he questioned if it was because he didn't love her enough (when in fact it was their father she hated), fully embraced his sister's likes as his own and notes to his mom that Goh and Chloe are no longer friends because Goh never comes to visit. Talia honestly praises him for being the wisest member of the Cerise family.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Rachel in (500) Days of Summer, played by Chloë Grace Moretz.
  • Parodied in the coffee scene in Airplane!.
  • Aside from being physically the youngest Avenger (early twenties), Captain America in The Avengers has the experience of a soldier and it allows him to see the best way to handle just about any battlefield. It makes him the greatest and most competent field leader to serve under, age be damned.
  • Another Natalie Portman example is Marty in Beautiful Girls.
    Willie: How old are you?
    Marty: Thirteen. But I'm an old soul.
  • Angela Christ from Fassbinder's Chinese Roulette. She is not only a Child Prodigy, but also has very good abilities to discover dirty secrets and understand hidden desires of adults around her.
  • Miette in The City of Lost Children.
  • Tessa in The Constant Nymph. She shows some immaturity at times, but when it comes to her love for Lewis, she’s very intuitive.
  • The eponymous character of Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Conventional wisdom would tell us that he should be studying, preparing for his future, but he knows that the future is now; it's today. He's not going to spend his whole life wishing he had done something, he just does it. He also helps give his friend the confidence to move beyond his Parental Issues and take control of his own life, all while thwarting the attempts of Dean Bitterman to bring him down and imprison him in yet another year of high school.
  • Peter and George (to a lesser extent) in Finding Neverland
  • The Golden Child from The Golden Child, being The Golden Child and everything.
  • The precocious little brat Rupert in A King in New York.
  • The Last Summer: Two cases, possibly combined with Troubling Unchildlike Behavior, Played for Laughs.
    • Griffin's little sister (about ten) reads social media posts about the Wild Teen Party's and knows someone nearly choked on a beer bong about one. She also charges baby-sitting money to make sure her brother doesn't do anything when there parents are left alone.
    • The younger brother of Christine Purdy (about the same age as Foster's sister) can tell that Foster is trying to seduce his sister (a virgin and a Christian) and tells him man to man that it won't work, as she doesn't even kiss.
  • Thelma in Little Sweetheart. Unfortunately, she uses her intellect to blackmail people and get away with horrific crimes. She's also nine.
  • Matilda: Matilda can multiply large numbers in her head (13 times 379, for example) in seconds, and says she likes to read just about anything. It's strongly implied that the only reason she isn't in an enrichment or advanced placement program by now is because her parents don't believe in the value of education, as implied by their reaction to her teacher's point that with private instruction she could get to college years early.
    Mrs. Wormwood: You want Matilda to go to college?
    Mr. Wormwood: College? I didn't go to college. I don't know anybody who did. Bunch of hippies and cesspool salesmen, ha ha ha ha...
  • Men with Brooms: After Amy falls Off the Wagon, Chris Cutter attempts to tell her son that she's sick. He replies that even he can tell that "she's shitfaced." He promises to look after her for the night just the same because "She's the only mom I've got."
  • Emmy, the younger sister in The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, is the one who comes up with the idea for Trudy to marry Norval to cover up the fact Trudy is pregnant and doesn't remember who the father is.
  • Natalie Portman's Mathilda Lando in The Professional does a lot of tasks beyond her age such as buying groceries or training to become an assassin. A rather dark example of this trope since she exhibits a ton of Troubling Unchildlike Behavior.
  • In Quest of the Delta Knights, T is portrayed this way. An example, when he and Leonardo de Vinci find themselves captured with no means of escape, Leonardo frets about what they're going to do and how T can try to sleep at a time like this until T tells him, "when in doubt, rest." Crow responds, "You are full of crap beyond your years, kid."
  • The kid La Résistance team Wolverines in Red Dawn (1984) fancy themselves as such, but still make rash and heat-of-the-moment-driven decisions.
  • Lyddie in Saving Sarah Cain. Justified in that she was old enough for it to be plausible. She wasn't wise ridiculously beyond her years.
  • Queen Amidala was elected to be the leader of the Naboo while still in her adolescence. In The Phantom Menace she is seen being commanding to her enemies and humble toward her allies.
  • Mattie Ross, at least in the 2010 adaptation of True Grit. Her determination and drive to catch her father's killer gives even the most hardened bounty hunters pause, coupled as it is with a genuine seriousness and an impressive knowledge of law and scripture. Deconstructed, however, in that she is still naive enough to be vulnerable, and her lack of innocence as a child leads to an apparently joyless and lonely adulthood.
  • In Steven Spielberg's 2005 War of the Worlds, Rachel Ferrier has shades of this. When she's not in immediate danger, she alternates between being the voice of reason and Little Miss Snarker. At one point, she inadvertently foreshadows how the Earth will eventually force out its invaders by refusing to let Ray remove a small splinter from her hand that her body can deal with it on its own. She's also observant, recognizing the presence of danger before most of those around her, and seems to have a firmer grasp on the situation than Ray gives her credit for (after Ray is forced to kill Ogilvy to protect her, she clearly understands what happened and seeks to comfort him, despite his best efforts to shield her from it). When she's threatened with a serious crisis, though, she still behaves just like any frightened child.
  • In The Young Messiah, a rabbi tests Jesus' knowledge of the Torah with a series of trick questions, and Jesus easily sees through them all, and even offers the rabbi a few insights of his own.

  • The main cast of Animorphs, especially Jake. How old they are isn't made clear until the end of the series, but it turns out they were 13 at the beginning and 16 at the end. This is shown largely through Character Development. Tobias and Cassie start off "a bit mature for their age" — Tobias due to Foster Parental Abandonment, Cassie becuase she helps her dad run a wildlife shelter, and is used to life-and-death decisions and serious consequences. The others start as fairly normal, and it takes them a few books to stop goofing around. After a few months fighting an Alien Invasion that could be anyone, anywhere, though, they're wise beyond their years. If they weren't, they'd be dead by then.
  • Artemis Fowl, who is also a Child Prodigy.
  • The Baby-Sitters Club suffers from this accidentally, probably due to the Most Writers Are Adults trope. 13-year-olds are given responsibilities most adults in Real Life wouldn't entrust to a high school senior, such as taking little kids around New York City unsupervised. All the BSC has to do is offer to help and explain that they have an after-school baby-sitting business, whereupon one of the parents they'd worked for would chime in with, "They're very responsible," and bingo, they were treated like honorary adults, no further questions asked. And since eleven is apparently the magic gateway to the Competence Zone, often Mallory and Jessie would be "taking care of" kids who were only a year or two younger than they are.
    • Also, some of their sitting charges as well (when they're not acting a lot younger than they should be, such as five-year-old Andrew who doesn't know what New Year's is). Take for instance one of the Perkins girls: she's two years old, and yet speaks in complex full sentences and acts more like she's around TEN!
  • In the Chung Kuo series, several of the characters are first introduced as children in the first novel.
  • Taran, the young protagonist of The Chronicles of Prydain, begins the series as a witless child, who only cares about adventure and glory. But as Character Development takes effect over the course of the books, he eventually becomes so wise that he earns the respect of kings and war leaders decades his senior.
    • In The Black Cauldron, he briefly becomes this through magical aid. Gwydion predicts that if Taran manages to live long enough, he'll earn the real deal; and as noted above, numerous painful sacrifices eventually lead to him being this on his own.
  • Also from Tamora Pierce, Circle of Magic, the Child King of Gyongxe, who was apparently selected to rule by the gods themselves, and incredibly mature for his youth. The main protagonists (Sandry, Tris, Daja and Briar) also count at times.
  • The Definitive Biography of P.D.Q. Bach has fourteen-year-old P.D.Q. meeting three-day-old Mozart, when Mozart was just learning to talk.
  • In the Deryni works, this is apt to happen to Haldanes and Deryni children, especially with the pressures making them grow up fast.
    • Kelson's deft questioning of his father Brion in the first chapter of Deryni Rising. The prince is a couple weeks shy of fourteen, and Brion admires his son's shrewd intellect.
    • Perhaps the best example is the four-year-old Alaric Morgan in Childe Morgan. Alyce is conducting a Naming ritual (which is usually done when the child is seven or eight), and she questions him as part of the ritual:
      "Alaric," she began, "I know that Father Anselm has talked to you about the difference between right and wrong."
      Alaric nodded solemnly.
      "Do you think you could tell me about something that's wrong? Can you give me an example?"
      The boy cocked his head thoughtfully, then looked at her with all the wisdom of his four years.
      "Do you mean just naughty, like when I kick Cousin Kevin, or really bad?"
      Alyce had to concentrate to keep from smiling at the sagacity of that answer. She need not have worried about her son's understanding.
  • In Discworld, one of Susan's young charges is six, but according to Susan "in cynicism, she's about thirty-five". She writes letters to Death on pink paper with pictures of mice on it, so that he'll think she's cute.
  • Saint Dominic is described in The Divine Comedy as having a keen awareness of Christ even in his infancy, shocking his nurse with his deep expressions of contemplation.
  • The Dresden Files: The Archive is the ultimate example of this trope. She is a seven-year-old girl who possesses the sum total of all human knowledge. Everything that had ever been written, or in the case of information on computers, printed out (she doesn't "learn" it until it is printed) she knows.
  • Alia, Paul Atreides's younger sister in Dune, thanks to being in the womb when her mother connected with the Fremen Reverend Mother.
    • Paul himself was this in the first novel. He was only fifteen but spoke and acted like an adult, and usually treated as such because of it.
    • Paul's children Leto II and Ghanima in Children of Dune are also pre-born, similar to Alia.
  • Ender of Ender's Game, who is more mature than just about any other 6-year-old ever. By contrast, Bean of Ender's Shadow is even smarter than he is, but as amoral as you'd expect from a street kid.
  • The English Dragon: Several chapters are narrated by Ben, the toddler. His remarkably eloquent inner voice is lampshaded. Ben represents naivety and Everyman — a literary device to see everything but to do so in an objective/naive manner.
  • Forbidden: All the Whitely kids; most of all Maya and Lochan who at the age of sixteen and seventeen are raising their three younger siblings together, and worrying about things most teenagers barely consider including an alcoholic mother, family finances, social services and and the age of legal guardianship. Their little sister Willa is an even sadder and younger example.
    At the age of five she has already come to terms with one of life’s harshest lessons: that the world isn’t fair...
  • And again in Good Omens, where Wensleydale is called 'Youngster' by his parents, in the hope he'll take the hint.
    • In a weird way, Adam. After overcoming his Antichrist Instincts to destory the world, he manages to figure out how to stop the apocalypse only with the help of his four friends - and he argues about morality with Beezlebub and Metatron using what he considers 'just common sense'.
  • Luna Lovegood of Harry Potter, who combines this gracefully with Cloudcuckoolander. (Her mother died when Luna was nine, and her father doesn't seem to grasp all of his responsibilities perfectly...)
    • Then there is Harry Potter himself, who, at age 11, realized that being cursed forever was a Fate Worse than Death.
  • Heralds of Valdemar:
    • Talia starts giving advice to her Queen when she is only 13. It's implied that her Companion is helping there.
    • Herald-trainees who take the 'usual' route to Herald (brought to Haven in their early teens) grow up fast. By the time they are full Heralds, around the age of eighteen, they are much older mentally and emotionally. Their bonds to their Companions and fellow Heralds usually hold off the unpleasant consequences of such rushed maturation.
    • Talia's people consider their children adult as early as 13, and with the sort of upbringing she received, she's already something of a "miniature adult" when (at said 13) chosen for a Herald.
  • This is played with in Johannes Cabal the Necromancer and its sequels — in book one, Johannes is twenty-eight, but he acts like a grumpy old man most of the time (in one portion of the novel he realizes he sounds like one too because he's trying and failing to get his anger across) and not a young adult. If his age weren't stated it would be easy to imagine him as a man of forty or more. Given Cabal's intellect he was probably always like this, but what really pushed him over the edge was when the woman he loved died when he was young (19 or so).
  • Matilda: Matilda can multiply large numbers in her head (13 times 379, for example) in seconds, and says she likes to read just about anything. It's strongly implied that the only reason she isn't in an enrichment or advanced placement program by now is because her parents don't believe in the value of education.
  • Bratty Half-Pint Constance from The Mysterious Benedict Society takes this to extremes. She is two years old yet can carry on conversations like a much older child (not understanding certain words aside) and is one of five children chosen to essentially become spies and save the world. Despite her young age she doesn't have much trouble fitting in amongst her ten to twelve year old friends. Only her rudeness foreshadows her young age.
  • Title character of "Teddy" from J.D. Salinger's Nine Stories, who outshines his adult interlocutor Bob Nicholson (and — one imagines — most of the shrinks and scientists for whom he's an object of study). Knows precisely when he'll die, which of course wouldn't be mentioned if it weren't relevant to the plot.
  • Oonagh from The Prophecy of the Stones, who at first seems to be a sweet, playful, innocent, barefoot girl, but in reality is a wise sorceress and the oracle. However, when she is asked questions she doesn't want to answer, she switches back to her childlike state and happily sings prophecies to herself.
  • In the Rainbow Magic series, Rachel and Kirsty are this, contrasting heavily with Jack Frost's childishness.
  • In John Dalmas's The Regiment, the main character visits Tyss, homeworld of the Private Military Contractors in the title, and finds their educational system produces children who fit here. A girl of about five approaches and asks if he and his colleague are "Ertwa." The child's brother, roughly seven, points out that "Ertwa were very long ago," and says the two must be "Splennwa" (from planet Splenn) instead.note 
    The little girl studied them. "Splennwa?" she said, cocking her head critically. "I think not. They are abroad unprotected in the heat of day."
  • Pearl from The Scarlet Letter. This is exactly how she is thought of in-story (in fact it's part of the reason so many people think she's some kind of demon child).
  • Septimus Heap in Septimus Heap is this thanks to his Young Army days to the point that he becomes ExtraOrdinary Apprentice at the age of 10.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events:
    • The Baudelaires, most notably Sunny, who's a baby for most of the series!
    • Also, most members of the VFD.
  • Otto in Someone Else's War. While most of the child soldiers are there against their will, Otto joined the LRA willingly because he knew his impoverished parents were having a hard time feeding all four of their children. He did this when he was eight. (By the start of the story, he's twelve.) He is even smart enough to realize that, despicable as the war is, if he kills his enemies before the adults get their hands on them, he is saving them from a great deal of suffering.
  • Jojen Reed from A Song of Ice and Fire, 13, is called "little grandfather" by Old Nan.
  • Eliot from Space Vulture is an excellent example. With no prior experience other than reading about it in books (and sometimes not even that, coming up with ideas on the spot), he hijacks a spaceship from the experienced interplanetary thief and all-around ne'er-do-well Gil Terry and promptly shows that he can operate it better than its owner. A little later, he defies all common sense as well as the laws of physics by steering a lifeboat into a planet's atmosphere from the outside. You don't resent him, though, because of his noble purpose, the fact that he makes a terrific foil for Gil, and because he's either utterly terrified or at least highly anxious most of the time, and not a smug smart kid at all.
  • Aristok Kassandra the Sixth of Branion, aged five, is a God-Empress with fiery eyes that give her an "eerily adult" gaze. She is childish and talks with a lisp, but has the vocabulary and understanding of someone aged more like eight or nine. This appears to be justified by her divine status. As sovereign of her country, she has a regent but makes adult decisions and intimidates nobles, priests and even traitors into doing her bidding. The one thing they won't let her do is execute someone; she has to be sixteen for that.
  • Charles Wallace Murry, of all Time Quartet books in which he appears, but most pointedly in A Wrinkle in Time, when he's about six years old and is well aware that he's twice as mature as his nine-year-old brothers and his fourteen-year-old sister. However, this does turn into his downfall.
  • Tortall Universe: Kel from "Protector of the Small" has a bit of this. Lampshaded by Neal, who says she's "The oldest ten-year-old I've ever met".
  • Having learned to take care of her mother over the years and being naturally responsible, Bella had developed into a very mature person, especially for her age. She even starts out Twilight by telling the reader that she's prepared to die in the place of someone she loves. Once she's fallen in love with Edward and he leaves her in New Moon, this is subverted as Bella turns out to be immature, whiny and lacking in self-control, as first seen when she throws tantrums at her parents for trying to get her to move back with her mother.
  • Even before The Underland Chronicles start, Gregor didn't get to be much of a kid.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • When Clan cats die at a young age and go to StarClan, occasionally they give the protagonists advice in their dreams, and are described this way.
    • Several of the cats destined to become medicine cats are serious as kits and begin training when they are still young, taking their duty very seriously. Pebble Heart from the Dawn of the Clans arc, for instance: even his adopted father Gray Wing would listen to him for advice.
  • Dale Brown novels have Bradley James McLanahan, who shows surprising maturity about the topic of death in Wings of Fire.
  • Goth, the heroine of The Witches of Karres by James H. Schmitz, a 1967 space opera. Goth is the middle sister of a trio of witch children, members of a super-psychic race/culture of humans. Her super-psychic powers, though, don't account for her relative maturity. She's elevenish, but not only teaches the adult hero magic, but advises him on political and economic moves. The hero only gets limelight because (1) he's the viewpoint character and (2) for a considerable time, Goth is kept off stage or unconscious.
  • Sascha in A Witch's Burden. He's a resourceful, thoughtful orphan and self-described "excellent judge of character". Elke is immediately taken with him, and they form a lasting friendship despite the difference in their ages, eventually becoming a Family of Choice.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Despite being the most innocent of the Scoobies, Tara takes the revelation of Joyce's death much more like an adult than any other member of the gang. We later learn it's because her own mother died when she was 17, so she's been through this before.
  • Alexis on Castle. It helps that both her father and her grandmother are much more playful than would be expected of a parent.
    • Sometimes, though, she acts more her age. Like when she cries while confessing to her father that she jumped a subway turnstile... then went back the next day and paid twice and didn't even ride.
  • Criminal Minds: Spencer Reid was an incredibly gifted child in his youth. He is also the youngest member of the BAU.
    • A rather tragic case in From Childhood's Hour with ten-year-old boy, Bobby. Because his mother was clinically depressed and suicidal, he developed a more mature and serious attitude on life. He was able figure out really quick that the man who abducted him had killed his mother, much to his horror and sadness.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • For a child, Bran shows himself far more competent at leading Winterfell than you may expect, and shows that many of the lessons Ned preached have taken root in him. For instance, his justification for leaving Winterfell undefended to send their men to take back Torrhen's Square:
    Bran: If we can't protect our own bannermen, why should they protect us?
    • Despite appearing to only be a few years older than Bran, Jojen is the first character to actually have some idea as to what Bran's dreams are.
    • The young Lady Lyanna Mormont is quick to point out the many flaws with a Stark/Mormont alliance without even bothering to consult her advisers. Jon isn't legally a Stark, but a Snow, and Sansa is a Lannister or a Bolton (depending on the source). She then rather bluntly asks why should she risk Mormont soldiers for a Stark, especially after the losses they suffered last time around. It's only when Ser Davos gives a rather sobering account of the real threat, the undead hordes, she agrees to help.
    Lyanna: Why should I have to risk one more Mormont life for someone else's war?
    • Along with Davos, Shireen is probably the Only Sane Man in Stannis's household; wondering why her Uncle who was so nice to her has to be burnt alive. She also counters Melisandre's Insane Troll Logic of equating his dying screams to a mother giving birth — Shireen points out that new mothers don't end up as ash and bone.
  • Zuri from Jessie is this (Even taking into account her penchant for imaginary friends).
  • Deconstructed in Kamen Rider Gaim with Mitsuzane. He's originally presented as quite smart and mature for his age, but the catch is that he has bought into his own hype. When considering courses of action, he has such a high opinion of his own intelligence that he generally disregards other peoples' opinions and feelings on the situation, and if his plans aren't followed he takes it poorly. By the end of the series he's shown to be more childish than anyone else on the show: he had been manipulated by the villains that he thought he had been cunningly manipulating, his approach to problem-solving had degraded to killing or strongarming anyone who interfered, and his entire goal can be boiled down to a refusal to grow up and deal with adult life.
  • Merlin starts out as a bumbling, clueless teenager. However, Character Development eventually changes him into this.
  • Manny from Modern Family.
  • Ziva from NCIS mentions that as a child in Israel, one has to grow up quickly or else you get killed.
  • One Day at a Time (2017): Alex is shallow, and at times comes off as your typical reputation-obsessed middle schooler, but several scenes reveal that he has a surprisingly smart, levelheaded, and mature outlook on topics that the adults in the series have trouble coming to grips with, such as his sister being a lesbian, the idea of having a gun in the house, and the idea of his mom dating again after her divorce.
  • Jake Brockman in Outnumbered is this in Seasons 1 & 2. However, he actually seems to become dumber as he gets older and becomes a teenager.
  • Several Power Rangers characters, including the original Mighty Morphin' Rangers. Trini in particular stand out among the original sixnote , but they all displayed a significantly higher degree of wisdom than you'd expect of high school freshmen or, in fact, the average adult. Zordon chose well.
  • Punky Brewster didn't start off this way, but she showed wisdom as the series went on. She reunited her teacher with his long-missing mother, helped a special-needs student come out of her shell to display a hidden talent, and during career day at school aspired to be an astronaut (this episode following the Challenger disaster which was its focus). Punky lost some of her wisdom when the show went into first run syndication as she shed her tomboy image and started seeing boys, but she would eventually learn from her mistakes come episode's end.
  • Reba: Kyra is arguably the smartest person in the entire family (to the point of getting straight As) and is often much more mature and level-headed at dealing with things then the adults. While she is a Deadpan Snarker and often likes to make fun of people, she's also very thoughtful and caring. Most notably she's the one who ends up successfully convincing Cheyenne to go back to high school (after she got suspended and Van quit playing football to blackmail the school into letting her back in) and also the one who calmed Cheyenne down about the prospect of childbirth.
  • Octavian on Rome. He sometimes combines this with Troubling Unchildlike Behavior, which makes him rather creepy.
  • Taken: As demonstrated by her narration of the first six episodes before her formal introduction, Allie Keys is an extraordinarily wise, intelligent and insightful nine-year-old due to her part alien heritage and the accompanying Psychic Powers. Her grandfather Jacob Clarke also exhibited these characteristics to a lesser extent. Allie has a far better understanding of life and human nature than people several times her age. For instance, in "God's Equation", her mother Lisa Clarke's bandmate Denny tells her that when he wakes up every morning, all that he can see is the end of the day. As a result, he doesn't see the point of even getting up in the morning. Allie then asks him if he thinks about the end of a song when he is performing. He says that he has to focus all of his attention of the part of the song that he is playing or he would never get through it. Without Allie saying anything, Denny then realizes that she is telling him to adopt the same attitude to life. Later in the episode, Allie is able to defuse the Hostage Situation by helping Ray Morrison to realize that he is so angry at the world because he was sexually molested when he was eight and it was easier to blame aliens for everything bad that had happened to him than to face his problems. She then allows the UFO project to take her into custody in order to protect Charlie and Lisa and prevent a bloodbath, even though she was more than powerful enough to escape. In the final episode "Taken", Allie makes the difficult decision to join the aliens in spite of her almost overwhelming desire to be a normal little girl. She knows that it is the only way to prevent people from being killed in the confrontation between the military and the abductees who came to protect her. Allie also has the wisdom to realize that Charlie and Lisa's plan to escape to South America will not work since the government would only find them again.
  • Jeff from Today's Special manages to be both this and a Manchild at the same time. While he just came to life and initially knows less about the world than a child, he often shows more maturity and wisdom than Muffy, to whom he's an occasional Big Brother Mentor. This is because Waldo's spell made Jeff smart, but not knowledgeable. He's also a quick learner, and over the course of the series, he seems to outgrow his Manchild tendencies, though there are still hints of it here and there, as he comes to understand the world better.
  • Elizabeth on The Tudors. Not surprising since she would grow up to become Elizabeth I.
  • Veronica Mars has the titular character, a private eye who not only makes a number of references that should really be beyond her range, but also regularly outsmarts many adult characters over the course of the show despite being a teenager. There is also the matter of her emotional duress which has granted her a cynicism more typical of a divorced adult.

    Myths & Religion 
  • This is a usual portrayal of child Venerables, Blesseds and/or Saints in the Roman Catholic Church. Examples: Saint Maria Goretti (12), Saint Agnes of Rome (13), Saint Domenico Savio (15), Sts. Francisco and Jacinta Marto (11 and 9, respectively), Venerable Antonietta "Nennolina" Meo (7), etc.
  • The Bible:
    • David (before he even became King) could be interpreted as this.
    • Invoked by Elihu from the Book of Job:
      "I am young in years, and you are old; that is why I was fearful, not daring to tell you what I know ... But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding. It is not only the old who are wise ... Therefore I say: Listen to me; I too will tell you what I know."
    • For that matter, just remember 12-year-old Jesus and his behavior in the Scriptures, when Mary and Joseph lost track of him. When found, he told her that she needn't have worried, and asked why they hadn't checked his father's house first. Mary and Joseph found Jesus discoursing with grown men on the scripture when they finally checked the temple after three days of searching.. He was exactly where He knew He had to be: in His Father's house. (Luke 2:49)

  • In 1971, Los Angeles DJ Tom Clay created a remix of the popular social consciousness songs "What the World Needs Now Is Love" and "Abraham, Martin, and John", to which he added various spoken word tracks (speeches by JFK and Bobby Kennedy, the eulogy from Bobby's funeral by Martin Luther King, Jr., news bites from their assassinations). Among these was a Q&A between an older man and a young boy, where the former asked the latter to define various words: segregation, bigotry, hatred. When he got to prejudice, the little boy replied, "I think it's when somebody's sick."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Elisabetta Barbados, the (13-year-old) Child Empress as is known, in Anima: Beyond Fantasy. Not only she governs the largest empire of the game's setting but is also very good at fencing, being said she'll overtake her mentor Kisidan — a badass himself.

    Video Games 
  • In Ace Attorney, Franziska von Karma. She became a legal prosecutor at age thirteen, and went undefeated for FIVE YEARS.
  • Chuck Downfield of Backyard Football. He's nine years old, but knows exactly what to do with football plays.
  • Blitz, in Balmung Cycle, especially relative to the people around him.
  • Irci from BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm. Her exact age isn’t given, but she’s clearly a young child. She’s had to mature quickly, since her older sister Til is a nervous wreck and their parents are nowhere to be seen. It’s implied that Irci has largely been the one raising Til, instead of the other way around.
  • Sera is introduced in Digital Devil Saga as a goodhearted but naive teenager. The sequel reveals that she was rapidly aged due to her powers; she's seven years old. She fights to save the world, knowing that she will die, and leads the Embryon in Serph's absence.
  • EarthBound Beginnings exaggerates this trope with the the Garrickson baby of Youngtown. NPCs in the same town remark on there being "something strange" about the infant, and when talked to directly, it utters unintelligible, meaningless sounds. When Ninten's power of Telepathy is used on it, however, its thoughts are in complete, understandable sentences, and the infant reveals that it has Psychic Powers, to the point that it teaches Ninten's party how to use the Teleport PSI power.
  • Fallout 3's protagonist, the Lone Wanderer, is only 19 at the start of the game. Even so, fresh out of Vault 101, one of the first things you can find yourself doing is demonstrating that you are perfectly capable of disarming a nuclear bomb.
  • Shinra from Final Fantasy X-2.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Sanaki, the 10- to 13-year-old Apostle of Begnion, from Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn has been an empress since she was five, and still managed to avoid falling victim to the corruption of the Senators, even managing to to fight against them.
    • In Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, and its sequel Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, 16-17 (in the first game and its remake)/19-year-old (the sequel and its remake) Prince Marth definitely counts, especially in Shadow Dragon. However, Marth (outside of Shadow Dragon, the remake of the first game) is a strange case in that he can make mature decisions and command his armies as well as anyone older than him, but can also be a borderline Kiddie Kid in how naive and innocent he is.
    • For that matter, almost all the lords count, most being in their mid to late teens with the exception of Genealogy of the Holy War's Sigurd, Awakening's Chrom, and Radiant Dawn's Miciah (chronologically, anyway) and Ike, aged three years since the last game (with Corrin having a Vague Age). However, Roy from Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade takes the cake; a political expert, commander of an army after the deceased Hector, and coolheaded Guile Hero at the ripe old age of 15, the youngest age for a lord in the series to date.
    • Also of note is Leif Faris Klaus. He starts at the same age that Roy does, and while initially a lot more naive than Roy, he becomes a very effective leader in fighting for the liberation of the people of Judgral.
    • Lysithea from Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a genius noble at the academy, who happens to be one of the youngest students.
  • Roan from Grandia II is one of these. Being raised to rule a country partly explains it.
  • In the .hack series, Wiseman. At the time of the original games, he's ten years old. You would never guess this from his efficient, calculating, highly intelligent on-line persona.
    • Sakaki in .hack//G.U. is a similar case: an elementary school student who is on the governing council of one of the largest Guilds in the game and is constantly giving speeches about morality to people much older than he is. He also tries to Take Over the World through AIDA in order to enforce his standards of morality on everyone.
  • Mission Vao from Knights of the Old Republic could be seen as this, as she had to become very street-smart very quickly after her brother abandoned her on Taris.
  • Prince Jarvan Lightshield IV from League of Legends.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, an eight-year-old named Malo becomes a successful store chain owner. What's more: he looks like a toddler.
    • According to trophy information in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, his mature, adultlike demeanor can be quite unsettling to actual adults.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: Tetra, in spades. Being orphaned at young age and carrying half of the Triforce of Wisdom around with her might have something to do with it.
    • And of course, we have the titular princess. Whether as a child, a teenager or a young adult, she is far wiser than her age would imply. This trait is the very reason why she was granted the Triforce of Wisdom.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has Riju, the Gerudo chief. She's a young teenager at the oldest, but she has a fairly detailed knowledge of the events of a century ago and the Sheikah technology involved. Using this knowledge, she is able to figure out that Disguised in Drag Link is the old Hylian Champion and a man based solely on him carrying the Sheikah Slate.
  • The Mass Effect series fits in a rather bizarre way; alien races have different lifespans, cultures, expectations, etc., but the series also reinforces that age alone does not determine wisdom. Thus, people like Thane (who can't be more than 50 years old) display maturity and wisdom on the level of Samara, who is somewhere near a thousand years old. This makes the moments where Shepard impresses/helps them in terms of wisdom and actions this Shepard is (barely) less than 30 years old for the first two games. Wrex, who is at least 1400 years old, also displays plenty of wisdom (uncharacteristic for krogan) and character development; the latter is actually thanks to Shepard.
  • In the interactive romance novel Moonrise, Alice Devonfort is a high schooler, but she's more mature and wise than her peers.
  • Ken Amada from Persona 3 is another, largely due to the fact that his mother was killed in an accident some years prior. Said "accident" is later revealed to have been caused by another Persona-user, thus prompting Ken to join SEES to seek his revenge.
  • Not to mention six-year-old Nanako from Persona 4 who pretty much takes care of herself, and does all the housework, and is the pride of her elementary school. She basically stepped into her mother's role after her death, and both her Social Link and her TV dungeon make it clear that she's never quite gotten over that.
    • Naoto is an older example, being an Ace Detective and called upon (if not respected) by the cops despite being a first-year high school student. Her Shadow flips between Little Professor Dialogue and childish crying, manifesting the divide between how she presents herself and how the world really treats her.
  • Hilde of Soul Calibur IV is a German princess who took up the throne at a young age due to her father's onset insanity, caused by the Evil Seed. She had to become an adult very quickly to protect and guide her kingdom. It's very telling that when she is aged up to 35 in V, she has barely changed as a person from her 18-year-old self.
  • Suikoden V gives the main character, the Prince of the Queendom of Falena, and his sister, the Crown Princess And eventual Queen. The Prince is between 16 and 18, and he's already a badass Warrior Prince with political savvy and commands the respect of his entire army. Lymsleia is all of 10, and she's a masterful politican who engineers a plan to escape house arrest that only fails due to a defection. They get it from their mother Arshtat and aunt Sialeeds, both political geniuses.
  • Tales of the Abyss has multiple cases of this due to various factors. Anise is thirteen but usually acts much older and is firmly in the position of Fon Master Guardian; said Fon Master is fourteen and yet is basically ruling the world due to the power the Order of Lorelei holds, not to mention is an effective Reasonable Authority Figure. All replicas they meet fall under this as the majority are very young including said Fon Master who is actually two and The Hero Luke who is a mere seven years old which makes him the oldest seventh fonon replica in the entire game.
  • In Season 1 of The Walking Dead, Clem was already very resourceful and caring for her age, and by the time Season 2 rolls around, two years have passed and she's become even more-so. She's often a lot more sensible and level-headed than the adults around her.
    • Taken even further in Season 4, wherein AJ is frequently found having complex discussions about morality and survival with Clementine. While this is partially justified by AJ having to grow up fast in a post-apocalyptic world, the game acts like Clementine's knowledge and experience are what make her smarter than AJ, not the fact that AJ is a five year old boy whose brain is nowhere near as developed as a sixteen year old's. Even if you try to refuse AJ the right to make life and death decisions in Episode 4, the game forces Clem to retract this once she's no longer under the player's control, admitting this five year old boy knows what he's doing.

    Visual Novels 
  • Rika from Higurashi: When They Cry at times exhibits a mental capacity far beyond that of a child. Of course, that makes sense when you find out that due to the "Groundhog Day" Loop she's been stuck in, and being the only one who retains her memories, mentally she is actually hundreds of years old.
  • Infinity series:
    • Ever17 has Yagami Coco. While she normally acts quite energetic, events later in the game (especially during Coco's own route) reveal that she is more aware of how serious the situation is than most of the rest of the cast, despite being the youngest.
    • Yuni from Remember11 also sporadically shows hints of this. He puts up an act so that the others don't realize this.
  • Majikoi! Love Me Seriously! has Monshiro, who has skipped grades, acts extremely mature and is considerate of others' feelings — arguably moreso than her brother Hideo, who seems to lack an "off" switch.
  • In Strawberry Vinegar, Rie has a rather advanced vocabulary for her age, and a collection of novels that overwhelm Licia because they don't have any pictures.
    Rie: Please. I'm nine years old. I don't need pictures to keep my mind engaged.

  • Jessica from Blade of Toshubi is only 13, but she has above average intelligence, speaks several languages, and often serves as the voice of reason to the somewhat amoral Toshubi.
  • Carrie from Everyday Heroes occasionally shows flashes of older behavior... like guilting her friend into showing her true feelings. (It's that one Beat Panel, where she lets Summer's own words sink in, that really does it.)
  • Fetch Quest: Saga of the Twelve Artifacts has the Child Prodigy Ambrosia Verdandi (age 12), who has an astounding interest in the medical sciences and hopes to become a doctor someday. Shiori lampshades this in her codex:
    Shiori: "She's also far more mature than her cute appearance might indicate, and she's definitely wise beyond her years.".
  • Girl Genius: The Castle complains that Carson von Mekkhan "always [was] a suspicious old grouch, even when [he was] young." which likely explains part of why Carson lived to be as old as he is by the time the reader meets him given the very dangerous world in which he lives.
  • Nona from The Good Crook.
  • Antimony from Gunnerkrigg Court. Even at age six, "when Annie still knew how to act like a kid", her desire to help was well in place, and she showed courage and level-headedness during her very first counseling session with a ghost. Then she takes a turn toward stoicism following her mum's death. In one of the rare cases where twelve-year-old Annie actually acts her age, she ends up collapsing in tears, crying that she misses her mother. One might assume that she wears her maturity so tightly, because the child can't handle that pain. (Or maybe it was just those cherries.)
  • Rose Lalonde from Homestuck is also quite knowledgeable for her age of 13, which only expands when she reaches her God Tier as a Seer of Light.
  • Lovely Lovecraft: Howard studies astronomy and chemistry and plans to write professionally. As his tale continues, he uses the Necronomicon effectively and debates responsibility and dreams with Iranon. Adult characters remark favorably on his calmness and understanding even in comparison to his elders.
  • Subverted by Redcloak from The Order of the Stick, a powerful cleric and warlord who looks like a young adult goblin of ten or fifteen years. He's actually around fifty, but the Crimson Mantle that he wears is a religious artifact that suspends his aging. According to his brother in Start of Darkness, he is an inversion: Right-eye accuses him of being an angry kid at heart who never moved on from their family's deaths because he doesn't have to face his own mortality.
  • Ozy and Millie, as one of the central themes of the strip.
  • Similar to its main influences Calvin and Hobbes and Ozy and Millie, the child characters in Sandra and Woo are significantly cleverer than normal 12-year-old kids. Just one strip after Larisa questions the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics during a game of beach volleyball, Sandra quotes Friedrich Nietzsche to justify her destruction of Larisa's sand castle.
  • Stephen Ahn from Weak Hero. It's easy to forget that he's in middle school when Gray reminisces about him, given how mature and intelligent he was. It's not every day that you find a middle schooler casually bring up Laurens van der Post and Kant's categorical imperatives in a discussion about finding meaning in life.

    Web Original 
  • Egg of AJCO is a sharp-minded, competent prosecutor bordering on a Badass Pacifist, and currently the most perceptive character on the entire server according to the MACELIPS stats (rating at 9 points out of 10). She is also only seventeen.
  • Deena in The Guild seems much more mature than her older brother. Of course, considering that her brother is Bladezz that's not very difficult.
  • The Fool Fantastic, a member of That Guy with the Glasses, is one of the smarter members. He reviews the best movies of all time, attempting to figure out what makes them so great. You'd be surprised to learn he's 17 with all the classic films he reviews and references.
  • Weaponized by the museum guide in this story from Not Always Right, whose speech includes specifically telling small children to keep their parents in line because grown-ups think rules like "don't touch the displays" don't apply to them.

    Western Animation 
  • This appeared to be the entire premise of FOX's animated series Allen Gregory. Unfortunately, the kid was also an unlikable twerp, so the show didn't last.
  • The kids in Arthur often act far older than most 8 and 9-year-olds would act. They roam freely around their home city and get involved in many activities most kids their age don't even consider, such as taking Czech courses or practicing kendo. Brain seems to be a Flanderization of this, even having a mini science-laboratory in his room and constructing his own machinery. For all intents and purposes, they act pretty much like high schoolers unless the plot requires otherwise.
    • Ironically, it's the preschool characters who act more like 3rd and 4th graders in real life, in terms of their worldview and their vocabulary.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Azula may be considered too old to count, until you recall she managed to organize a coup in a hostile city with her words alone, breaking the Evil Chancellor in the process, at age fourteen. From what is seen of her during flashbacks, it seems like she's actually been like this since age nine. Word of God even stated the reason she chose her "friends" was because they were people she could learn useful skills from.
    • Aang himself counts later in the series, being only twelve but having the WIS score of 20. But then again, he is the Avatar. He is chronologically a hundred and twelve years old. He was frozen in time for a hundred years, so mentally he was still twelve at the beginning of the series. He matured a lot throughout the show, however. Same can be said for most of his friends, as they are all young and manage to fight armies on a daily basis, almost. A point is made of this in the episode The Southern Raiders. When Katara sets off to avenge her mother's death with Prince Zuko, Aang makes it a point to advise her several times. At the end, Sokka responds with the line: "You know, for a kid, you're pretty wise. Usually it's annoying, but right now I'm just impressed."
    • Speaking of which, Katara is probably the best example of this. From a very young age, she has had to act as a mother to her family and her brother, and her actions and reactions throughout the series reflect this very strongly. Though she occasionally has "childish" instances (half the time just to make a point), the series treats her as the group's mother figure and caretaker. Take this dialogue from the very first episode. (Considering Katara's background, that line becomes particularly poignant and bittersweet.)
      Katara: [while penguin sledding] I haven't done this since I was a kid!
      Aang: You still are a kid!
  • Huey from The Boondocks.
    "He speaks so well."
  • Jérémie Belpois of Code Lyoko is not just the leader of the Five-Man Band, but devises all the planning and strategies in the fight against XANA, sometimes even keeping ahead of the malevolent A.I. Hence, even for a Teen Genius, he proves much more mature and serious that could be expected from any 11/12-year-old. At least, as long as Aelita isn't directly involved... then he can get emotional and show his true age.
  • Members of Codename: Kids Next Door sometimes show signs of this trope, which can ironically imply that they can be more mature than some of the villains they face.
    • Especially Numbuhs One and Five. They've both been in life-threatening situations too many times to count. Numbuh Five's got the wisdom of somebody at least twice her age, and Numbuh One has a relationship with his girlfriend that some grown men would envy. They're both 10-11 years old. Numbuh Five's arguably the most mature of the main characters, especially taking into consideration how she's often the Only Sane Woman.
    • The biggest example of this trope would probably be Numbuh 362, considering she's in charge of a whole global organization filled with thousands (possibly millions) of kids.
  • The DCAU brings us Kai-ro, the ten-year-old Green Lantern from Tibet. A ten-year-old wielding a willpower-based weapon, who was easily the most level-headed member of his incarnation of the Justice League. Badass.
  • All the kids on Doug. Despite being only in sixth grade, they freely roam about town without any parental supervision, empathize with each other in ways very few real life sixth graders are able to, talk completely like adults, etc.
  • Mac from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, who's become more mature to counteract his freewheeling and borderline Jerkass friend, Bloo.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: Mandy may be a real bitch but she's EASILY the smartest and most mature and responsible character on the show.
  • Arnold from Hey Arnold! in spades.
    • Just about every kid in Arnold's class, actually. There's no way that's a group of fourth graders. No way.
      • But Arnold is the one they go to when they are in over their heads. Even the adults did this eventually.
      • And he was once asked to be a best man. He's nine.
      • So is Helga, and she was the maid of honor in that same wedding.
  • James Bond Jr. received info and equipment from school pal and genius I.Q.
  • Kaeloo: Mr. Cat may be a mere preteen, but he's well versed in advanced sciences, can repair and build machines, gadgets and robots and thinks more like an adult than a kid.
  • In The Legend of Korra, Aang and Katara's granddaughter Jinora certainly counts. She's so wise that at the age of 11 she becomes the Avatar's spiritual master, saves the world and the Avatar no less than 3 times because of her wisdom and spiritual skills, and outdoes her own grandfather's record of becoming the youngest airbending master in history at the age of 11 and implied to be the unofficial leader of the new Air Nation behind her dad, Tenzin.
  • The Monster Buster Club members are twelve years old. Said twelve-year-olds regularly beat up evil aliens and save the day with a combination of gadgetry, teamwork, and physical prowess bordering on Charles Atlas Superpower.
  • Tommy Anybody from Mr. Bogus appears to show shades of this.
  • On Ready Jet Go!, the kids all seem to be this, especially Mitchell, who is little but can build an exact copy of Saturn V.
  • In both the original Rugrats series and the spin-off All Grown Up!, Susie Carmichael's shown to be very mature for her age — at only three-years-old, she was already fluent in French and knew where human babies really came from (which she told Angelica, but Angelica didn't believe her). However, taking into consideration how Susie's mom, Lucy, is a doctor (and one of the specialities she practices is obstetrics), the latter probably shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. Susie's older brother, Edwin, is a much better example.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Lisa Simpson, and this has quite often been a plot point of the show. In fact, one episode has Mayor Quimby surprised that she's a child, saying that he always thought she was a midget — Lisa explains that she isn't and that the preferred term is "little person."
    • All of the elementary school kids (except Ralph Wiggum) seem fairly mature for their age — although not all are as mature as Lisa.
    • Lisa's sister, Maggie, as well, despite being just a baby.
  • In South Park, all of the students with the exception of Butters have shown to be consistently more intelligent than the adults especially in the later episodes and understand many complex things. The basis of the main plot of the episode "Cartman Joins NAMBLA" is Cartman feeling too mature for his friends (He isn't.) and attempting to make friends with adults. It worked far too well.
  • Steven Universe, though it takes a little while to become apparent. The first half of season one is often, "Steven somehow gets into trouble and the Crystal Gems have to save him", but once the true stakes become apparent and character development sets in, it becomes, "Steven continually helps resolve the emotional issues of his friends and family".
  • Milli and Geo of Team Umizoomi, who are Math Heroes
  • In Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), Leonardo is responsible for the lives of his three brothers, the protection of his home and sensei, and occasionally the fate of the city. He's fifteen years old (no older than the rest of his brothers).
  • Fritz from Timothy Goes to School is the most intelligent student who mainly focuses on anything science related.

    Real Life 
  • Babur, the first Mughal emperor of a good chunk of India and the important bits of Afghanistan, became an independent ruler and military leader at 12, fighting adult enemies who more often than not had vastly more money and soldiers than he (including the freaking Khan of the Uzbeks). He made a career out of beating larger armies, and crowned it in his adult life by eating the Delhi Sultanate.
  • Famous pop singer Billie Eilish has always been mature for her age, even before she became famous. She has a nihilistic point of view on life, especially being well-spoken and eloquent for her age.
  • Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg is even more sensible than most well-known world leaders, as she tears into them for not doing anything about climate change. They call her a realist for a reason.

Alternative Title(s): Wise Beyond Her Years, Wise Beyond His Years