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Young Conqueror

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"The only person with whom I felt any kinship died three hundred years before the birth of Christ. Alexander of Macedonia, or Alexander the Great, as you know him. His vision of a united world... well, it was unprecedented. I wanted... needed to match his accomplishments, and so I resolved to apply antiquity's teaching to our world, today. And so began my path to conquest. Conquest not of men, but of the evils that beset them."
Adrian Veidt, Watchmen

Youthful idealism can be a beautiful thing. There are few things audiences love more than the idea of a gifted teenager (or sometimes simply a young adult) who can see what is wrong with the world and, after initially feeling overwhelmed and powerless in the face of a Crapsack World, deciding that they need to do something about it.

In some cases, he/she may obtain or be born with some special power to help them achieve their goal. Whether they do or not, the key difference between the Young Conqueror and The Hero is that instead of fighting crime on a case-by-case basis or having to face an already existing Big Bad, they have a much bigger vision and will try to Take Over the World in a belief that Utopia Justifies the Means. However, if these ideas are already a quick way for adult characters to go merrily Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, being a young, frustrated rebel, complete with the standard emotional immaturity and sometimes flat-out childish fantasies you would expect out of someone this age only makes things worse. Consequently, they often end up as a Well-Intentioned Extremist type of Anti-Hero, or even a(n) (Anti)Villain Protagonist.

In addition to differing from the typical hero in vision - or ends - they will also differ in the means used. In contrast to the Idiot Hero, the Young Conqueror will have a strong dose of Intelligence Equals Isolation, which may cause them to be quite prideful. And instead of a typical hero who reacts to the Evil Plan of the Big Bad and fights with brawn, they are a Guile Hero who uses brains to come up with their own schemes, often being either The Chessmaster, Manipulative Bastard, Magnificent Bastard, Mary Tzu, or all of the above, capable of cooking up The Plan just as good as or possibly better than your standard Big Bad. As such, they are often examples of Heroes Act, Villains Hinder, which is one of the main reasons why these characters are so unique and interesting.

If they're targeted by bullies, expect them to later gloat Who's Laughing Now?, though when they realize the extent of the damage they have caused, they are especially prone to wondering My God, What Have I Done? and going through a Heroic BSoD and/or Heel Realization, assuming their Übermensch mentality cracks enough to let them see it. These characters often die young, seemingly "burned out" by their own genius, though a Young Conqueror who lives to adulthood can either continue down their path to Anti-Villain status (or sometimes simply become the Big Bad, deluded by their own idealism), or they can become a mentor who issues Jacob Marley Warnings to other youngsters in their former position.

In a way a variant of Rags to Riches. A milder and hopefully less bloody version found in the commercial rather than politico-military sphere is the Self-Made Man.

When the Young Conqueror is done with his conquests, he may settle down to being The Emperor.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Death Note: all of the four main characters have the mental qualifications to be this, but only Light is idealistic and ruthless enough to follow this route.
  • Code Geass: Lelouch vi Britannia, insofar as wanting to take down the Holy Britannian Empire. He succeeds.
  • Gundam:
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: Garma Zabi is only 20 years old, yet is already the commander of Zeon's Earth Attack Force mostly thanks to being the son of the Sovereign. His older sister Kycilia is similarly only 24 but is in charge of the Zeon Mobile Assault Force, although unlike Garma she has the skills and qualifications to back up her placement in the role.
    • Haman Karn is only 20 during the events of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, yet she commands Axis Zeon, one of the three powers in the Earth Sphere, and in Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ is able to mount an invasion of the Earth Sphere that very nearly succeeds. She was originally selected by the leadership council of Axis, who believed she'd be an easy figurehead for them to control, but she quickly proved them very very wrong.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz: Mariemaia Khushrenada helms the Mariemaia Army and comes close to taking over Earth... even though she's only 7. Although she's really just a figurehead for her scheming grandfather.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans: Orga Itsuka is 17 during the first season, which sees him lead a successful offensive against the dominant military power in the solar system, and is 19 in the second season, in which he becomes poised to become the "King of Mars" after making several deals.
  • Monster: a story where the main villain, Johan, has all the qualifications, but rather than changing the world, wants to destroy it, just because he can. Unlike For the Evulz types who want to watch the world burn, he doesn't seem to get much satisfaction out of the horrible things he does: he just wants to set it on fire. And is very good at it.
  • Naruto has Pain/Nagato, who learned ninjutsu in his youth with his True Companions and afterwards started a group with them to create a better world and was given the Rinnegan. After being forced to kill his best friend, he commits bloody vengeance on his betrayers and plans to create a super-weapon that will scare the other villages into stopping all war.
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Reinhard von Lohengramm is a textbook example, becoming the Emperor and uniting the known galaxy before the age of 25. Luckily he has Kircheis to watch his back, both physically and morally.
  • Akumetsu. He acts like a goofy Idiot Hero, but he is actually very cunning and resourceful. He is also much more physical than other examples of this trope.
  • The protagonist of Lost+Brain.
  • The backstory of To Love Ru seems to say Lala's father is one of these on a galactic scale.
  • YuYu Hakusho: Shinobu Sensui, in contrast to Yusuke Urameshi. Is a pretty brutal Knight Templar as a Spirit Detective and wants to Kill All Humans as a villain - seeing as his idealistic black-and-white worldview did a 180 since he was on the side of good (pre-Face–Heel Turn, he thought all humans were good and all demons were evil; as the Big Bad, he thinks the opposite).
  • There seem to be a few characters in Revolutionary Girl Utena who seem to fit this... but not the eponymous Utena, who is just rebellious on a personal level.
  • Star Driver has the Glittering Crux as an organization led by these, though for now the only one to have shown definitive proof of belonging here is Kanako, a teenager who plays the Stock Market like a fiddle (and who is an Olympic level boxer... as well as a damn hot chick).
  • Griffith from Berserk in the Golden Age arc, before he became a demonic god.
  • Katsuhiko Jinnai of El-Hazard: The Magnificent World. A zany Large Ham who borders on Laughing Mad, but under his command the Bugrom steam-rolled the kingdoms of El-Hazard and were only stopped when the heroes got their own superweapon working and subverting the superweapon that Jinnai had acquired. His later performances are less impressive, but by this point, the Bugrom army has been more or less reduced to a squad of seven.
  • Prince Arslan of The Heroic Legend of Arslan is literally this, raising an army to retake his kingdom's capital city at the age of 14.

    Comic Books 
  • Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias from Watchmen who is an Alexander fanboy that wants to conquer the evils of mankind, he also built a business empire from scratch and pushed his body and mind to perfection.
  • Tony Stark before becoming Iron Man was a business version of this; he was also a drunken playboy. In Civil War (2006) he gets back on the conquering horse.
  • Stryfe desperately wants to be this as a teenager, but was hamstrung by his chronic arrogance/underestimation of his enemies, and the facts that he was facing off against Cable and that his grand schemes, Legacy Virus excepted, tended to begin and end with "I will be as big a dick to Cable as I possibly can."
  • Hunter Rose aka Grendel, genius writer by day and hitman by night, takes control of a criminal empire spanning from Atlanta to Montreal with NYC at the center.
  • In Runaways, Alex Wilder's plan is to play his team and the Pride against each other so that the Pride doesn't fall apart from infighting, thus allowing them to complete their plan to remake the entire world into a supposed paradise. And he nearly succeeds at it, and he's not even old enough to drive.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Shinji And Warhammer 40 K elevates Shinji to this trope.
  • The protagonist Prometheus in The Chronicles of Utopia Volume II is an idealistic conqueror who liberates the lands ruled by the Mad Overking Ivid before creating his own enlightened empire based on more light-driven principles.
  • In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Harry is very much this trope, and can't really understand why no one's tried to take over the magical world with a working knowledge of scientific principles in the past.
  • In Child of the Storm, Harry has all the hallmarks of this, with various characters noting that he could either be the next Captain America or the next Magneto, with more than enough motivation to turn into the latter. In Chapter 61, he recognises this after a Motive Rant and is prevented from tipping over the edge by his friends. When he cools down, he finds that his potential to be this trope absolutely terrifying. Fears of this get even greater after the brief, though admittedly justified, Dark Phoenix rampage in the sequel, and the demonstrations of his capacity to leave even apparently invincible empires (HYDRA and the Red Room) or opponents (Chthon) in ruins, albeit usually at high personal cost.
    • Lionel Luthor wants his son to be this trope. Lex... is not so sure.
  • In A Dovahkiin Spreads His Wings, Jon Whitewolf was only fourteen years old when he was acknowledged as the Last Dragonborn. He then proceeded to win the Civil War for the Empire, foiled the Apocalypse twice, and is currently thinking about definitely wipe the Thalmor from existence. In a bit of a subversion, he's not interested in ruling in spite of High Queen Elisif offering to adopt him as her heir or his bloodline entitling him to the Iron Throne.
  • In Black Sky, Dorea Black took after her paternal ancestors and become the dictator of Magical Britain when she was just shy of seventeen years old. She found being a tyrant exhausting and as such completely overhauled the country's legislation to ensure it would function without her before abdicating and hightailing into Sicilia to spend time with her family.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: The titular character starts off fourteen and has her birthday, but conquers herself into being A Child Shall Lead Them ruler, who also gets a Regent after that.
  • In A Moth to a Flame, Marcy aims to be this on a multi-dimensional level, alongside King Andrias.
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: The Wolf insists Daenerys is this and won't stop at conquering just the Seven Kingdoms but the world, despite the protests of everyone else he mentions it to (in the fic, Daenerys still torched King's Landing, but was visibly under the influence of a spell). The Wolf was behind the spell, but he maintains that it was just a little push in the right direction rather than mind control.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The title character of the film Charlie Bartlett.
  • Michael Corleone in The Godfather starts off as a young war hero reluctantly pushed into the mafia world by his family, but discovers that he has an aptitude for the business and becomes a Don by age 35.
  • Not that young (he's supposed to be 30, but Al Pacino was actually quite a bit older as well) but Tony Montana from Scarface (1983) climbs to the top of the drug-dealing community almost as fast. He falls.
  • Howard Hughes in The Aviator conquers the film and aviation industries, world aviation records, Cate Blanchett and Kate Beckinsale but never his fear of germs.

  • Jake from Animorphs grows into this over three years of leading a guerrilla strike force.
  • The A Song of Ice and Fire series has had a few of these, many of them Deconstructions, fitting the nature of the series.
    • Aegon the Conqueror was no older than 30 when he united the Seven Kingdoms except Dorne.
    • One such figure that a number of characters admire is a past Targaryen King, Daeron I, who is known by the moniker "The Young Dragon" and managed to do what all the Targaryens (even those with huge dragons at their disposal) had failed to do: conquer the Kingdom of Dorne. An older and more cynical character points out that trying to actually hold Dorne, however, took up an ungodly amount of resources and resulted in many casualties, since the Dornish prefer insurgency anyway. The Dornish killed the governor Daeron had installed and a rebellion started almost instantly. The Young Dragon died along with 40,000 men trying to quash it. A later Daeron peacefully brought Dorne into the kingdom through political marriage, and it's kept there largely by leaving them to govern their own affairs whenever possible.
    • Daenerys Targaryen shows herself rather adept at conquest, completely destroying Slaver's Bay and the slave trade. However, she quickly learns that while she may have a knack for conquest, actually ruling these places whose societies she upended is a far greater challenge.
    • Robb Stark emerges as an excellent general who wins every battle that he fights but loses the war due partially to a lack of political skill and partially to letting idealism and Honor Before Reason get in the way.
  • The trope, specifically in the example of Alexander the Great, is harshly criticized in Jonathan Wild by Henry Fielding. Wild, a historical figure who controlled London crime in the mid-17th century is presented as a great admirer of Alexander, and this admiration is because Alexander was a murderer, thief, and rapist, but since the Rape, Pillage, and Burn was on a grand scale, people think of him as a hero. Wild hopes that in his own small way, he can become a sufficiently powerful criminal that he will be thought of as a Great Man.
  • In The Count of Monte Cristo, Luigi Vampa, a celebrated bandit, is analogized to one of these, because he's achieved power and celebrity and is not yet 30. Vampa may be aware of the comparison since he likes to read Julius Caesar for fun.
  • The Tales of the Branion Realm historical fantasy series features an entire royal family prone to this. Starting with the kingdom's founder in the backstory, who made a pact with a god and used its power to conquer the realm — since she reigned for 63 years, she must have been pretty young to start with.
  • An example is noted in the backstory of The Stormlight Archive - the Sunmaker, a semi-legendary Alethi king who began his conquests in his late teens and became one of the most revered leaders in Alethkar's history.
  • The titular character in The Sunne in Splendour is Edward IV, who takes up his deceased father's claim to the throne during the Wars of the Roses and is crowned king. He returns home to greet his mother and younger brothers George and Richard in triumph, dazzling the crowds. His mother observes him and is proud, but she is also unnerved at the adulation that she fears could go to her son's head.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Robb Stark, the "Young Wolf". Neither Tywin Lannister nor his father Eddard thinks he is up to the task but Varys notes to Eddard that boys like him have become conquerors before. He quickly proves himself one of the most skilled battle commanders in the series.
    • Theon Greyjoy wishes he were this, but he falls flat.
    • Daenerys intends to conquer Westeros, which she regards as her birthright. She struggles at first since she has no transportation, only a handful of followers, and three helpless, infant dragons. After gaining the Unsullied she becomes a genuine threat and has her start by conquering Slavers Bay, sacking one slaver city, forcing another to surrender, and causing the largest in the region to yield to her. A Deconstructed Trope, as she has left two cities in worse conditions than they were before she got there. Her refusal to listen to her advisers has also resulted in problems arising in Meereen. However, unlike most examples, Daenerys is willing to learn from her mistakes and take responsibility for her actions.
  • The title character in the Korean serial epic Jumong.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Battletech has a few examples due to being set in a Feudal Future; nobles are trained from childhood in strategy and conquest, and occasionally an early succession will lead to someone young in charge who immediately sets out to conquer.
    • Victor Steiner-Davion succeeded his father Hanse as head of the Federated Commonwealth at the age of 22, as the Inner Sphere was in the middle of the Clan Invasion. Shortly after turning thirty, Victor had helped stop the Clans' invasion into his territory, counter-attacked the Clan Homeworlds, personally led the task force that Annihilated Clan Smoke Jaguar, and won the Great Refusal that ended their invasion for good. His youth and inexperience made him a victim of his sister on the domestic front, however, and by the end of the Invasion, the Federated Commonwealth had essentially been split in two.
    • Devlin Stone had begun reconquering territory from the Word of Blake while still in his twenties, and by the time he was forty had set the foundation for the Republic of the Sphere.
    • Kamea Arano went from First-Lady-in-Exile to reconquering all 23 worlds of the Aurigan Coalition in about a year, at the age of 25.
    • The Clans, interestingly, tend to avert this. Despite a ruthless Proud Warrior Race culture that runs on Asskicking Leads to Leadership where anyone over thirty without a Bloodname is considered a wash-out, very few warriors get to Khan status before they're in their forties. This is because, in a system that runs on merit, it takes time to cultivate the necessary status and contacts needed to be accepted as leader of a Clan.

    Video Games 
  • Advance Wars: Andy is only a teenager, yet he's a commanding officer in the Orange Star army. His fellow COs in Dual Strike, Jake and Rachel, aren't that old either yet are the commanders of the Orange Star forces in that game, with Rachel even being the one who heads the Allied Nations in their offensive against Black Hole. There's also Colin, a Blue Moon CO who's much younger than any of them.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: Revan was a Jedi prodigy whose peerless strategy won the Mandalorian War for the Republic, and nearly won the Jedi Civil War for the Sith. S/he built up quite the Evil Empire before being betrayed in the traditional Sith manner and is respected and/or feared throughout the Galaxy. All of this judging by his/her unmasked appearance in the game before about twenty-five to thirty. The fact that Revan was young enough to be accepted into the Academy post-mind-wipe supports that he/she is fairly young, too. While the Sith do have something like a Philosopher's Stone, even his/her non-Jedi contemporaries speaking of past campaigns generally fall into the same age category.
  • Fable III: The Player Character can be played as a Young Conqueror, following in the footsteps of their same-gender parent (the Player Character of Fable II) who rose from a broke orphan raised by Gypsies to become Monarch of Albion, largely through shrewd Real Estate purchases.
  • Dynasty Warriors: Sun Ce always plays this trope to the hilt. His personal campaign usually details how, if he had avoided his historic early death, he would have gone on to unite China himself.
  • Samurai Warriors: Masamune Date tends to play this role - young, brash, respectless, immensely talented, and ambitious. Interestingly, the historical Masamune Date was both closer to, and further from, this ideal.
  • In Sengoku Basara, Masamune plays much the same role, only he's actually got the charisma to make taking over the country achievable. Ieyasu is a more humble and idealistic example who's more interested in making the country a better place than just lording it over everyone else.
  • Fallout: New Vegas:
    • Caesar (and presumably Joshua Graham) of Caesar's Legion was once this, having founded the Legion at around 21, though he's in his fifties by the time you meet him.
    • The Courier has the option of going this route, with the help of Yes Man. There's no 'Emperor' period after since you've freed New Vegas from any overall ruler except for a peacekeeping robot army
  • Gulcasa in Yggdra Union and Blaze Union, though rather than having the standard prideful Übermensch personality he's a Messianic Archetype driven by PTSD. He becomes emperor of Bronquia at age 17, deems continental conquest to be the most efficient way to destroy societal prejudice, and in the canon end of the games dies at age 20 after ruining his health and losing all of his loved ones to his own wars. In Yggdra Unison, where it's possible for him to succeed, he settles down as a benevolent world leader after making his ideals reality.
  • Prince Maximilian from Valkyria Chronicles, an ambitious 29-year-old imperial general.
  • Lincoln Clay, the protagonist of Mafia III. Lincoln is a Vietnam veteran who uses his Special Forces training to destroy a criminal empire and take over an entire city at the age of 23. He has three fairly powerful lieutenants backing him up, but he does most of the work himself.
  • In The Elder Scrolls, the Third Tamriellic Empire was founded by Tiber Septim (formerly Talos Stormcrown, aka Hjalti Early-Beard) who was a mere 26 years old when he claimed the long-vacant Ruby Throne of Cyrodiil. Septim would go on to become the first person to conquer all of Tamriel and, following his death, would ascend (possibly with others) as the "Ninth Divine'', Talos.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses:
    • At age 18, Edelgard von Hresvelg ascends to the throne of the Adrestian Empire and launches her war against the Church of Seiros mere weeks later. In the Crimson Flower route, she successfully destroys the Church, the Leicester Alliance, and the Kingdom of Faehrgus in five years, and by the time she is 23, she is the undisputed Emperor of all Fódlan.
    • On the Silver Snow and Verdant Wind routes, Byleth ends up conquering the Empire, and with the Kingdom and Alliance in no state to govern themselves and desiring Byleth's leadership, ends up uniting all of Fódlan under their rule. Special mention goes to the Verdant Wind route, where Byleth and Claude eventually plan to unite Fódlan with neighboring countries; should you achieve S-rank support with Claude, he even returns to save Fódlan from a resurgence of Imperial and Agarthan remnants and apparently marries Byleth, effectively uniting the two regions as one.
  • Brigandine: Vaynard the White Wolf of Norgard is highly known and feared as a powerful warrior and an intelligent strategist before he even became King. Once he ascends the throne, many characters acknowledge Norgard as one of the nations who threatens to conquer Forsena (the other is Esgares Empire.) And he will if he is chosen by the Player.

     Web Original 
  • Oglaf: Played for laughs when a little princess is given an army for her birthday, which she then uses to go on a campaign of conquest against a candy factory. Then her army is besieged by the forces belonging to a different princess, and she starts wishing for an assassin on her next birthday.

    Western Animation 
  • Azula in Avatar: The Last Airbender, through a very intelligent plan, managed to infiltrate Ba Sing Se, become leader of the Dai Li based only on the strength of her will and charisma, and conquer the city, something that the Fire Nation had never been able to achieve in 100 years. And all that at only 14 years old.

    Real Life 
  • In general this was much more common in ancient times when the sons of aristocracy would often receive their military training through direct battlefield experience at ages younger than what we would consider the norm for adulthood. This often went hand-in-hand with Asskicking Leads to Leadership.
  • The earliest inarguable example of whom we have any recordnote  is Thutmose III, King of Egypt (reigned 1479 BCE-1425 BCE), ran the Egyptian Army during his joint reign with his stepmother/aunt Hatshepsut as soon as he was of age (some time in his mid-teens, apparently). After Hatshepsut died, the Canaanite city-state of Kadesh tried to take advantage of the transition and the new Pharaoh's youth (Thutmose was only 21) to swipe some territory they had lost to Egypt; instead, Thutmose crushed them, and then began a massive campaign of conquest that saw Egypt build an empire stretching from Syria to Nubia. During his campaigns, Thutmose proved himself a tactical and strategic genius, and modern military historians often compare him to Napoléon Bonaparte. Unlike many young conquerors, however, Thutmose lived long enough to enjoy the conquest; he lived to the age of 55 (which was not remarkably old even in those days note  but was still old enough back then) and had more or less full control of the country for over thirty of them. His son and heir, Amenhotep II, was similar; if anything a more martial spirit than his father,note  he inherited the throne as a teenager, and though he couldn't conquer as much (his father having conquered pretty much everything Egypt realistically could), he did have some successful campaigns early in his reign (he was actually on campaign when Thutmose passed) and ruthlessly used force to maintain the empire he had inherited.
  • King David fought and conquered a number of Israel's neighbors, many of them while he was young (starting with when he was working for Saul). He took Jerusalem—a target the Hebrews had long desired but never been able to conquer—before he was 30, and kept going from there.
  • Alexander the Great: He became a military commander at the age of 16, became king and began his conquest of the known world at the age of 20, and died emotionally and physically burned out at age 32 with his plans completely unfinished with no successor to leave them to.
    • In something of a variant of this, Alexander was in fact being groomed to be a conqueror by his father who was a Magnificent Bastard in his own right.
  • Xiang Yu, "Hegemon-King of Western Chu", who basically ended the Qin Dynasty and tried to set up a dynasty of his own...but he pissed off everyone and quickly found himself fighting his former friend Liu Bang, whom he had exiled to the "wasteland" of Bashu...which proved to be the perfect place for Liu Bang to organize an army against Xiang Yu note . Xiang Yu did all of this by his 31st birthday—he killed himself around then because his army was obliterated by the Han forces and he had nowhere to run or call home.
  • During the Three Kingdoms Era of China, Sun Ce - founder of the Kingdom of Wu - fits this trope. He was known as the 'Little Conqueror' because of it - taking control of the prestigious Sun family after the death of his famed father, Sun Jian, when he was barely out of his teens - and with skill and courage, seizing vast quantities of land. (Sadly, at the age of 25, he died young as well. So it goes...) His "Little Conqueror" nickname was something of a tribute to Xiang Yu (who also died young, although Xiang Yu was also famous for being a giant with great strength.)
  • Cnut the Great first appears in the records accompanying his father Sweyn Forkbeard in the latter's campaign against Anglo-Saxon England. Within three years Cnut would succeed where the likes of the Great Heathen Army, Eirik Bloodaxe, and even his father had failed to do, conquer the entirety of England and be crowned king, just in time for his twentieth birthday. His realm would subsequently incorporate Denmark, Norway, and parts of Sweden during his reign.
  • Genghis Khan came to be this going from being a Noble Fugitive, nearly alone on the steppes with his mother to being The Scourge of God.
  • Henry V of England. He decisively defeated the French at Agincourt and came further than any other English monarch in conquering France as a young man. Unfortunately for him, he died just two years after the Treaty of Troyes was signed, in his thirties, of dysentery, with all his long-term plans left unfulfilled and the English throne left to his infant son, the later Henry VI.
  • Edward IV of England. Affable, handsome and an absolute terror on the battlefield, the teenage Edward took up his deceased father's claim to the throne after his father was killed in battle and his younger brother Edmund was murdered shortly thereafter. Edward deposed Henry VI (see above) and brought stability to England, but he also alienated allies by marrying for love and ran a Decadent Court.
  • Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II earned the title Fatih ('The Conqueror' in Turkish) at age 21 by taking the ancient Byzantine capital of Constantinople, which had resisted several previous sieges, in spite of the constant decay of the Byzantine Empire's power over the centuries and the increasing number and potency of neighbouring threats. Given that he inherited most of the Balkans and about half of Anatolia, while Constantinople was a half-abandoned Land of One City at this point (albeit guarded by one of the toughest set of fortifications the world has ever seen, which included the famed Theodosian Walls), this was not objectively quite as impressive as it sounds. That said, Mehmed did go on to do a bunch of conquering after that (completing the Ottoman conquest of Anatolia and taking even more of the Balkans), much of it before he turned 30, so the trope still applies.
  • Ismail I of Persia made his first victory in battle when he was 14 years old when he conquered Shirvan and in the very next year, he founded the Safavid Empire. He gained a fearsome reputation until he was defeated by the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Chaldiran, his legacy is still felt in modern times: he reasserted Iranian identity after 800 years of outsider occupation since the Islamic conquest of Persia and established Shia Islam as the main religion, which most Iranians adhere to this very day.
  • Charles XII of Sweden (also known as Carolus Rex. Ascending the throne at 15, Denmark-Norway, Poland-Saxony, and Russia formed an alliance against Sweden to take advantage of his youth. Charles surprised everybody by holding his own and then outright invading and conquering the first two members of the alliance, winning an outnumbered victory against the Russians (and almost killing Peter the Great) in the process. He got greedy fighting in Russia, however, and was beaten decisively at Poltava.
    • He was even nicknamed "the Alexander of the North".
  • Napoléon Bonaparte is a borderline case. He wasn't a teen anymore when he began his military career in earnest—though commissioned as a second lieutenant at age 16 in 1785, he had only reached the rank of captain by age 23. However, he became a general at 24, and by 26 he was in charge of the French Army of Italy. He had conquered Italy for France by his 28th birthday, and at 29 led French forces to their famous (if disastrous) expedition to Egypt. He was recalled to France at 30 to help resolve a political crisis and through crafty maneuvering ended up First Consul of the Republic. He did, however, wait until the ripe old age of 35 to declare himself Emperor Napoleon I, at which point began his most famous conquests.
  • Glorious Leaders seem to always pretend to follow this trope even if they've never fought a war in their entire lives. As modern warfare is too bureaucratized for this, this image becomes something like Miles Gloriosus.