Fictional Child Prodigies

The personal growth of child prodigies has traditionally captured a decent share of attention in popular culture. There have been many films and TV series about child prodigies, mainly family dramas centering on how children with advanced minds cope with a world which sees them either as unique or abnormal.

In literature

Artemis Fowl

In the series Artemis Fowl of books by Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl II is a 12 year old (turns 13) criminal prodigy, who also experiences family problems, his father was abducted and this led to Artemis's mother going through serious depression.

Battle Royale
Battle Royale antagonist Kazuo Kiriyama is considered a child prodigy in that he quickly learned many skills such as the violin and martial arts only to discard both when they got "boring". He uses his unique mental power to devise plans to kill his fellow classmates.

Chronicles of Narnia
In the Chronicles of Narnia Lucy Pevensie is portrayed as a wunderkind in the movie soundtrack in a song by Alanis Morissette called 'Wunderkind'.

In film

Dear Brigitte

An early film example is Dear Brigitte (1965) with Bill Mumy as a prodigious son of a professor, although there are films with child prodigies that predate that one. The Royal Tenenbaums, a recent work shows characters who began life as child prodigies. Another example is Little Man Tate (1991), a film depicting the struggles of a doting working-class mother trying to care for a child prodigy.

Little Man Tate

In Little Man Tate, the character suffers from burnout in the middle of the film, but by the end he recovers and is ultimately better adjusted than he was before the film story began. A vaguely similar result occurs in Searching for Bobby Fischer where, after a tormenting level of external pressure, the prodigy finds his own way toward stability and even being "a good person."


In Shine David Helfgott, who is not a fictional character but the story is fictionalized, is shown as having an almost viciously domineering father.



On the television show Bones, Temperance Brennan's assistant, Zach, was a child mathematic prodigy with an IQ over 176. He learns at a rapid pace and can instantly identify any bone in the body and where it belongs. He also has the ability to recite Basketball Stats at the drop of a hat.

Doogie Howser, M.D.
The final episode of Doogie Howser, M.D., Doogie appears on a talk show with child prodigies who end up confessing outrageous mental problems, but at the end he essentially agrees it applies to him as well. He therefore quits medicine in search of some kind of philosophical answer to his problems. Lisa Simpson is generally shown as having virtually no friends and her obsessive need to go to school seems occasionally pathetic even to her.


In the television show Heroes, Micah Sanders appears to be a computer genius before and when he has his ability.

Malcom In The Middle

The character Malcolm in the hit TV series Malcolm in the Middle (2000-2006) is a prodigious young man beset by family problems and has a mostly underplayed intelligence.

The Pretender

In the TV series "The Pretender" (1996-2000), the main character Jarod is a prodigal child who, as a man, is capable of emulating any person within various fields of work or situations; Jarod assumes the role of a surgeon and through his mental prowess, is able to mimic an actual surgeon.

Star Trek: The Next Generation
In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Wesley Crusher's feelings of abandonment and resentment are more often shown as caused by the early death of his father, but in the last episode featuring him he could be deemed to show signs of "aging child prodigy disease". He is hostile to everyone, disobeys orders and ultimately abandons Starfleet for his own kind of spiritual/philosophical journey.

Star Wars
The first installment of the second Star Wars trilogy, the Phantom Menace, features the 10-year-old Anakin Skywalker who is a brilliant pilot and engineer. He later becomes a member of the elite Jedi Knights but clashes with authority and falls to the dark side of the Force, eventually becoming Darth Vader.

Several episodes of the X-Files featured varying kinds of child prodigies; ranging from noble to violent and psychotic.

In Comics

Génial Olivier
The Belgian comic strip series Génial Olivier, which first appeared in 1963, took the paradoxical premise of a little boy who is a brilliant scientist but a dunce in every other respect. His inventions have included robots, life-like holograms and time machines, but he is hopeless at history, geography, spelling and grammar. As a result he is stuck in a normal everyday primary school where his talents are less than appreciated. Many of his inventions are aimed at cheating in exams or getting back at his teacher with whom he is engaged in a never-ending war of nerves. Olivier also uses his creations to deal with bullies or impress the girls, but the results are not always the ones desired.

In manga and anime

Fullmetal Alchemist

In the anime and manga series Fullmetal Alchemist there are three child prodigies, Edward Elric, Alphonse Elric, and Winry Rockbell. Though the series mostly focuses on Edward's genius who is really more of a prodigy is debatable.
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