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Psychopathic Manchildren in literature.


  • The Queen of Hearts, from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, is a Psychopathic Womanchild — though she presumably rules over Wonderland, she's essentially an overgrown spoiled brat who, upon being crossed or annoyed by someone, starts screaming her famous "Off with his/her/their head(s)!" The narrator points out that this is quite literally the Queen's only way of dealing with any problem, regardless of its size. Many adaptations of the book, including Disney's animated version, keep this characterization, making the Queen of Hearts into a temper-tantrum prone villain who switches from sweetness to screaming without any warning.
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  • The Howlers, an ancient race of genocidal warriors in Animorphs. Jake was essentially expecting them to have the mind of a super-predator, but upon morphing into one, he discovers to his shock that they are actually possessed of a childlike simplicity and engage in genocide because they think that it's just a fun game and don't understand that they're hurting people. Eventually, the Animorphs were able to exploit this by revealing to the howlers that their victims are more than just mindless toys which exist for their amusement, thus "ruining" them.
  • In A Brother's Price, Keifer Porter. Emotionally abused all his wives, cruelly tortured and raped one of the younger ones, and used his Brainless Beauty to not be punished for it by the elder sisters. Everyone agrees that he was simple-minded, and childish, though not without some cunning. Turns out there was someone more intelligent than him behind his poisoning his father-in-law.
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  • A Certain Magical Index: Accelerator, the world's strongest esper, is initially introduced as a terrifying figure who tortures cloned soldiers to death in an attempt to increase his powers. It turns out that he's an emotionally stunted Tyke-Bomb who doesn't know how to resolve problems except through fear, and thinks that gaining absolute power will allow him to live a normal life because everyone will be too scared to manipulate him. The sadistic way he kills the clones is actually driven by guilt - he suspected that they were more human than the people running the experiment claimed, and wanted one of them to beg for mercy so that he could use that as an excuse to stop killing them. Accelerator later has a Freak Out! when he learns that the designers of the programme actually intended him to get it shut down,note  but his weird logic resulted in it running much longer than intended.
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  • In Codex Alera, this seems to be the eventual demeanor of the Vord queen as she slowly becomes more and more human in her emotions.
  • John Dies at the End has an interesting example in that the Psychopathic Manchild is Korrok, a gigantic amorphous Eldritch Abomination with the mental maturity of a 13-year-old who just discovered his first batch of cuss words. People under his control tend to do things like blurt out offensive comments and do strange and depraved acts like stripping naked in the middle of the street and packing snow onto their crotch or pissing on the hood of the protagonist's car, and his idea of tormenting the protagonist is to turn on his car radio and replace all the song lyrics with racist diatribes. When Dave and John finally meet him, Dave notices that his voice sounds like a toddler's.
  • Stephen King:
    • It: Henry Bowers is this in spades, constantly fixating on how the Losers Club repeatedly humiliated him and beat him when they were kids and even, with Pennywise's help, trying to murder them as adults. To be fair, Henry was never entirely stable to begin with, and by the time the adult portion of the novel begins, has been locked up in an insane asylum since he was 12.
    • King loves this trope. Quite a few of his villains tend toward this, from Annie Wilkes in Misery, to Harold Lauder in The Stand, to Ed Hamner in "I Know What You Need". (That's not even counting the ones who are actual children, literally or apparently.) In essays and his nonfiction work, King's even likened himself to one of these (not in real life, of course, but only when he's writing his fiction).
  • On occasion Karsa Orlong comes across as a worryingly competent (and very big) child throwing a tantrum in the Malazan Book of the Fallen. However, being only around 70 years old amongst the long-lived Teblor he's barely more than a teenager, justifying occasional childish behaviour somewhat. His size and strength do make this a big problem for many people who make him mad unknowingly.
  • G. K. Chesterton's Manalive features Innocent Smith, an apparently mad Blithe Spirit who gleefully takes charge of a small community and changes everyone's lives for the better... before pointing a gun at someone and being arrested as a serial killer. It's gradually revealed that he has never, in fact, killed anyone.
  • The (presumed) Big Bad of The Meq is the Fleur-Du-Mal, who, like the rest of the eponymous race of immortals, is Really 700 Years Old, but he's also a Psycho for Hire with a bone to pick with the rest of his race. He likes to cut throats, kidnap little girls and turn them into prostitutes, dabble in the occult, manipulate normal people, or Giza as they're called, with his appearance as a twelve-year-old boy, and sadistically torment his own kind. Yeah, he's a Jerkass.
    • Soon, Ray's sister, Zuriaa was dangerously unstable and became Fleur-de-mal's twin. What a plot twist.
  • Ronald Niedermann from The Millennium Trilogy. Freakishly strong, near-invincible due to congenital analgesia, and extremely intelligent. He is also irrationally devoted to his unloving father, has probably never physically achieved puberty, and is plagued by bizarre and terrifying hallucinations. Knowledge of which (or not) can come in fairly handy.
  • Mirror, Mirror: The Borgia siblings are both C and E. Though they're less Axe-Crazy than unable to understand basic concepts like "breaking promises, ordering assassinations and sleeping with family are bad, bad things".
  • Another Pratchett example: First Mate Cox in Nation is at one point given a description suggesting this, when his gleeful expression at shooting down a parrot was compared to a little boy proud of wetting himself. On the other hand, at no other point is he shown as anything but fully, rationally aware of what he is.
    "First Mate Cox had a choice, every day, and had chosen to be First Mate Cox."
  • Sidney Carroll's short story "None Before Me" features a fascinating, horrifying art connoisseur named Gresham who hoards the most priceless, exquisite works of art in the world, and toys with them like a child. He buys an enormous dollhouse described as "the best in the world" and places it in the center of his collection, obsessing over it every waking moment of the day. As the house absorbs his attention, he begins rearranging the furniture inside and talking to the dolls as if they are real people, and eventually he decides that he is the sole God over the people "living" inside the house. One day, he discovers a figurine of a religious idol inside the house; the "blasphemy" enrages him and he smashes the priceless house with the back of his hand, destroying it– then promptly dies himself.
  • Lennie in Of Mice & Men could be considered this, aside from the fact that he is not psychopathic, but rather mentally challenged, and everything he does, from making a girl in Weed think he wanted to rape her, to killing Curley's wife, is the result of him not knowing any better or understanding his actions.
  • In Tad Williams' Otherland, the Other is the quasi-sentient operating system of the eponymous network. One of its many bizarre attributes is that, despite being at least twenty years old, it seems to have the personality of an autistic child, and at several points in its "development", the Grail Brotherhood attempted to have it communicate with real children, in order to allow it to develop the capability to interact with people. The Driving Question of why an apparently home-grown AI behaves this way is only resolved when it's realized that the Other is not actually an AI; it's a real human child, stolen at birth and implanted as the "brain" of the network.
  • The Phantom of the Opera: Type B and C. In the original book the Persian and Erik himself lampshade Erik's attitude as childish, and despite his multiple talents, he is not interested in sex but to have a beautiful wife and a life like any other guy. It's only when he actually triumphs that he realizes how impractical those dreams are. Also the Persian treats him as a spoiled child when he interrogates Erik about Raoul and Christine's destinies.
  • Doopy and Goshy the clown brothers in The Pilo Family Circus are insane like all the other members of the clown division, but manifest their particular lunacy in remarkably childlike ways which seem quite harmless at first: Doopy has the mental age of about six years old and has a habit of whining like an impatient child, while Goshy communicates only in whistles and beeps and is in love with a potted plant. However, Goshy's apparent incompetence is offset by his appetite for wanton destruction and uncanny bursts of sadistic intelligence, and Doopy will fly into a homicidal rage if his brother is even mildly threatened.
    • JJ, the protagonist's vile alter-ego, will gleefully commit murder, vandalism, assault, and any number of crimes for his own childish amusement. However, if anyone responds violently or threateningly, he'll react by bursting into tears and running off.
  • In the Redwall book Martin the Warrior, the heroes come across a tribe of Chaotic Neutral wild squirrels who live for pleasure and think it would be a really fun game to chase said heroes up a cliff and throw them off! They do end up working for the good guys later on, as they're convinced this would be an even better game.
  • The Colorman in Christopher Moore's Sacré Bleu who always shrugs off his murders with "Sorry. Accident. Couldn't be helped." and his molesting the female help with "Penis".
  • Reach, the King of the Cranes, from the Skyscraper Throne series is a particularly extreme example. On the surface a nigh-unkillable, several-hundred-year-old god, underneath he's a Fetus Terrible, struggling to be born.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Lysa Arryn throws tantrums like a spoiled child when things don't go her way and ignores her responsibilities as Lady of the Eyrie in hopes that they would go away. And when her new husband Littlefinger forcefully kisses her niece Sansa, she tried to murder the latter because she believed they tried to steal what belongs to her.
    • Cersei Lannister covers her inner woman-child with a huge layer of The Vamp (and all the Manipulative Bitchiness that requires), in addition with twisted aspects of Mama Bear in adulthood. But, her primary motivation for much of what she does is what it's been since she was very young... a humongous tantrum that she can't get the cool toys like the boys do (or, more specifically, like Jaime does). And, Daddy won't look at me like he does him! (So, I'll be better than Daddy!) It's not very pleasant when it combines with a streak vicious enough to advocate torture, murder and, occasionally, outright acting like her brother's (and cousin's) Lady Macbeth when she isn't being her children's My Beloved Smother, so any sympathy you might have for her points about the inherant unfairness in the Stay in the Kitchen attitude of most of Westeros gallops out the window thanks to her general toxicity.
    • It's still up in the air about the inner workings of Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish. Whilst the execution of his plans are certainly mature, he is solely motivated by his by his childhood affection for Catelyn Stark. His plan so far can easily be viewed as a massive temper tantrum simply because he couldn't have her for himself, leaving almost the entirety of Westeros devastated by war and with winter just around the corner too...
    • Ramsay Bolton is still the little boy who pulls the wings off flies, roasts living grasshoppers, drowns kittens and beats nerds for lunch money whenever he feels like it inside. Just all grown up enough to add raping and flaying people to the list of things he enjoys doing.
    • Gregor Clegane is a downplayed one of these as he's not the giggling, vocalising kind and comes across as quite thick. However, he's not good at sharing his toys (he's killed most of his family and antagonised his brother into staying well away from home) and has an epic set of triggers you don't want to trip. He also likes to surround himself with similarly-minded, violently sadistic bullies.
  • Star Wars Legends: Given Palpatine's views in Darth Plagueis, it's strongly implied that Palpatine grew up to become a high-functioning version of a Psychopathic Manchild.
  • In one of the creepiest moments in the Agatha Christie canon, when the murderer in "Three Blind Mice" finally reveals themselves to their intended last victim, their voice suddenly devolves to that of a child.
    "I said that I'd kill you all when I grew up and I meant it! I've thought of it ever since! I'm grown up now; grownups can do what they like!"
  • The Tome of Bill has two examples.
    • First is Jeff. He acts incredibly childish and has exaggerated opinion of himself. He throws a fit whenever he doesn't get his way and is generally an all-around douchebag.
    • Second is Gansetseng. She's actually over three hundred years old, but she was turned when she was just twelve and hasn't physically aged since, and has barely aged emotionally thanks to her "father" (actually her some odd great-grandfather) treating her like a child for all her life.
  • Nightblood from Warbreaker is a lot like this, acting much like an optimistic child eager to please its owner — by killing things.
    Nightblood: I did very well today. I killed them all. Aren't you proud of me?
  • Merricat in We Have Always Lived in the Castle. She started out as a psychopathic child and is still very childlike though over 20.


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