More than just a cute face or an emotional place-holder, television children often lead the way with straightforward wisdom and precocious problem-solving.
All too often, they've been forced to shoulder responsibilities far too early.
Sometimes, circumstances are just right for their talents to shine.
And then there are times when they really are the smartest person in the room.
Related: Enjoy UNLIMITED access to thousands of Movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video. WATCH ANYWHERE. CANCEL ANYTIME!
So whether they're actually the Devil or just a little dickens, off-the-scales clever or an annoying know-it-all, these kids hold their own in strange and challenging circumstances.
Trixie Espinoza -- Lucifer
In the beginning... there was Trixie. And it was Good. Better than good, Trixie's super-power is being able to connect with everyone. After all, her bestie is Mazikeen, head torture demon of Hell. Furthermore, there's a solid chance (at least in my mind) that she'll grow up to be a time-traveling Ella.
Ty Finn -- The Orville
Ty is a musical prodigy but otherwise, he's a pretty typical, if inordinately adorable, space-traveling kid. It's kind of perfect that his piano instructor is Isaac, a Kaylon A.I. being. Besides being far more musically skilled than any human counterpart aboard The Orville, Isaac develops whatever passes for affection in a Kaylon for Ty and his mother and that ends up saving the Planetary Union when the Kaylons attack.
Diane Johnson -- black-ish
Diane's never been subtle about how smart she is but as she's entered adolescence, she's learned to hone to talents to further her own goals. What that looks like is the birth of a super-villain. Just ask Charlie how scary she can be.
Max Fuller -- Fuller House
Very much the middle child, "Mighty" Max adores his older brother but isn't above pulling Jackson's strings when circumstances give Max the upper-hand. Bright but insecure, he thrives in the bustling household, filled with lots of family and friends who have his back.
Gracie Sheffield -- The Nanny
Written to be little more than the cute-enough-to-give-you-cavities Cindy Brady of the Sheffield clan, Gracie often advised Nanny Fran on personal dilemmas with a more worldly perspective than you'd expect.
Malcolm Wilkerson - Malcolm in the Middle
Tapped for the gifted program at school when he just wants to survive adolescence unscathed by bullies, Malcolm was cursed with the spotlight by the bane of all kids seeking normalcy -- POTENTIAL.
Robin Hinton -- Marvel's Agents of SHIELD
Robin's Inhuman ability gave her visions of the future and drove her into selective mutism while she drew her visions. She became the focus of Enoch and his fellow Chronicoms when they realized that interpreting her vision drawings could help Earth avoid an extinction-level event.
John Sibley -- Salem
Raised by the Elders as a vessel for the Devil, John is prone to a lot of disturbing behaviors as well as showing a natural skill for witchcraft.
Fiona Gallagher -- Shameless
When her mother walked out on the family, 16-year-old Fiona stepped up to take care of her younger siblings and alcoholic father. There's wasn't much she wouldn't do for her family but when she took time for herself to let loose, she didn't always make the smartest choices.
Namond, Dukie, Randy, Michael -- The Wire
"The Boys of Summer" were the central focus of Season 4 of HBO's The Wire. All four are directly affected by the drug scene on the streets of Baltimore. Namond's father is doing time for the Barkdale's gang, serving a sentence for a crime he didn't commit in order to ensure his son is taken care of financially. Dukie's entire family is addicted, dealing drugs, or both. Randy is in foster care and, with great entrepreneurial flair, deals snacks and sodas to his peers during lunch hours. Michael is the protector of the group, taking care of his younger brother and defending Dukie when schoolmates bully him about his hygiene. None of these boys had a real childhood and the streets meant most of them wouldn't have much of an adulthood either.
Lyanna Mormont -- Game of Thrones
Ascending to the head of House Mormont at the age of ten may have daunted other girls but Lyanna Mormont comes from a long line of warrior women expected to stand and fight and lead. Despite having most of her army slaughtered at the Red Wedding, she brought her remaining 62 warriors to the Stark banner and, with her dying breath took out the Night King's giant with a dragon-glass dagger.
Henry Mills -- Once Upon a Time
It's Henry who kicks everything into action on Once Upon a Time. He strikes out on his own to find his biological mother and bring her back to Storybrooke where he's realized that he's the only one who ages. By nearly dying himself, he finally convinces Emma of the fairy-tale nature of the town and that's just the beginning of some incredible adventures.
Alex Dunphy - Modern Family
Arguably smarter than her entire immediate family combined, Alex is yet another middle child so good at taking care of herself that her parents pay her about as much attention as a self-cleaning oven. Thank goodness there's a fourth wall camera for her to confide in.
Allie Pressman -- The Society
In a world (the size of a town) where all the adults have disappeared, Allie steps into the leadership role left vacant by her murdered sister and faces decisions no high school student should have to make.
Loretta McCready -- Justified
Although young, Loretta is Harlan County through and through. From helping her father with his illicit pot crop to seeking revenge for his murder to striking a deal with Boyd Crowder, she's a survivor. Also, she's got a hard time sticking to the right side of the law.
Wesley Crusher -- Star Trek: The Next Generation
Love him or loathe him, Wesley Crusher was the iconic space-traveling teen for an entire generation of sci-fi geeks. Despite making typical teen bad call choices at times, he repeatedly pointed out dangers and solved problems his adult superiors either couldn't detect or chose to ignore.
Ona -- Krypton
I'm usually too jaded to get sucked into the obvious emotional trap with a wide-eyed orphan child treading a path of danger but Ona got to me. After losing her mother in a horrific manner, it seems like her faith in Rao is rewarded when she is adopted into his order of servants, guaranteeing a life free of hunger or need. Her faith is so pure and constant that it wins over BRAINIAC in his guise as the Voice. How does this qualify her for "wise", you ask? Well, there's something to be said for finding genuine contentment when the world around you is just the WORST.
Nog -- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
As the youngest Ferenghi ever seen on any of the Star Trek platforms, Nog grows to represent the melding of Federation principles and priorities with the particular set of skills being born Ferenghi imbues him with.
Frosta -- She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
Eleven and three-quarters years old and wielding the elemental power of ice like the bad-ass she is, Frosta is the youngest of the Princesses of Power in the Netflix reboot of She-Ra. Although she does get to let loose and be a kid -- a kid who can grow icicles to impale her enemies with -- I kinda think she and Lyanna Mormont would actually get along pretty well.
Stewie Griffin -- Family Guy
Uh, what can I really say about Stewie? Flamboyant and eccentric? Totally obsessed with world domination and matricide? Articulate and imaginative... yet still in diapers?
Lisa Simpson -- The Simpsons
It's interesting to note how middle children seem to crop up time and time again on this list. For the past THIRTY years, we've watched as Lisa has struggled to overcome her intellectually mediocre roots to varying degrees of success.
Callum -- The Dragon Prince
Despite being born royalty, Callum understands the need to work hard to master his skills as a mage and respects the need for peace for a kingdom to thrive. His mission to return the Dragon Prince to his mother is driven by the desire to see peace between their people.
Nancy Wheeler -- Stranger Things
Things change quickly for Nancy Wheeler in her sweet sixteenth year. Initially, all she's concerned about is her blossoming relationship with Steve but with the disappearance of her best friend, Barb, and the discovery of the Upside Down dimension, her life goals change dramatically.
Sheldon Cooper -- Young Sheldon
It's rare to meet the adult before the child but that's the magic of prequel series! After ten years of getting to know Dr. Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, we were introduced to his nine-year-old self and it was a hilarious delight to watch as the pint-sized genius maneuvers the waters of high school life with perfectly average peers.
Kyra Hart -- Reba
Yet another middle child, Kyra is in the perfect position to observe the difficult choices made by her divorced parents, teenage mom older sister, and ex-football star brother-in-law. Confident in her own abilities, she often offers helpful advice and insight although not without a healthy dose of teenage eye-roll.
Ralph Dineen -- Scorpion
Present in the series from the pilot, 12-year-old Ralph acts as a point of connection for his mother Paige and her boss Walter who was also a child prodigy genius. He provides vital assistance on several missions when he's not attending courses at CalTech.
Frankie Fox -- Better Things
Of the three Fox daughters, Frankie is not only the most well-read and articulate, she has the innate ability to push every one of her mother's buttons AT THE SAME TIME. Max, the oldest, has her volatile moments but her drama is usually turned inward. Duke, the youngest, is reactive as only a grade-school-aged child raised in Hollywood can be. Meanwhile, Frankie is always watching and times her actions for maximum impact and effect.
Will Robinson -- Lost in Space
As the youngest member of the colonist mission, Will is an anxious but talented young engineer. Although he failed a pre-mission entry test for working under pressure, it's his quick thinking that saves his sister's life when the Jupiter 2 crash lands on the unknown planet.
Pepper Moonchild -- Good Omens
Despite starting life with a name like Pippin Galadriel Moonchild, Pepper is very much a feet-on-the-ground, empirical evidence sort of child. She may be a part of Adam Young's entourage but when the young Anti-Christ starts feeling out his powers and imposing his will on his friends, she's the first to call him on it. However, when faced with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Pepper is also the first to step up and face down War herself, disarming her and laying a total beat-down in the name of Peace.
Bonus: Little Boy -- Westworld
Not actually a child but Little Boy -- a synthetic host designed to look exactly like a young Robert Ford -- is infinitely knowledgeable despite his young appearance and guides Westworld guests back to Sweetwater when they wander a bit too far afield. On several occasions, he is used to deliver messages to the Man in Black, sometimes as part of his programming but occasionally (and most disturbingly) in the voice of the adult Robert Ford.