Telekinesis, precognition, mind-control… the skills of these fictional TV kids go way beyond wheelies and scooter tricks. Understanding and controlling those abilities, however, is another matter.
Take Eleven, the mysterious child at the centre of Netflix’s ace new series Stranger Things, she’s the latest in the long and varied line of child characters who’ve struggled with their unpredictable and extraordinary powers.
Keeping our choices to live-action television characters like Eleven, whose power doesn’t come from witchcraft, a magical tool or sci-fi gadget, we revisit 25 of geek TV’s most memorable super-powered kids…
Bo Adams – Believe
Powers: Telekinesis, animal control, precognition, the empathetic ability to read people’s pain, and much, much more…
Who is she? A foster child who has had unexplained supernatural abilities since birth. As the future of the world rests on her fate, Bo is under the protection of one group (led by Delroy Lindo’s Winters) and being hunted by another (led by Kyle Maclachlan’s Roman Skouras). In Believe’s first episode, Bo is teamed up with wrongfully convicted death row inmate Tate and sent on the run. Her journey will teach her more about her past, her powers and her potential.
Damien-factor: Non-existent. She’s extraordinarily powerful, but Bo is a good-hearted little girl. Her strong altruistic streak sees her use her powers to help, and not kill, the people she meets.
Bran Stark – Game Of Thrones
Powers: Prophetic dreams and visions or ‘greenseeing’, ‘skinchanging’ or the ability to enter and control the mind of animals (and in Bran’s case, people), psychically travelling to and affecting past events.
Who is he? The little Lord, and the eldest surviving legitimate son of Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell. Bran lost the use of his legs after Jaime Lannister pushed him out of a window, and was forced to flee his home when it was taken by Theon Greyjoy, who spread word around Westeros that he had slaughtered Bran and his younger brother Rickon. Season six saw Bran’s powers really come into their own, with tragic ramifications for some.
Damien-factor: Bran isn’t exactly cute with his eyes rolled back into his head in Warg-mode, his meddling in past events didn’t work out so well for one much-loved character, and in wolf form, he’s ripped out a throat or two, but overall he’s one of the good guys. He is a Stark after all.
Claire Bennet – Heroes
Powers: Tissue regeneration, immortality and blood that can heal other people’s injuries.
Who is she? The cheerleader referenced in Heroes’ season one “Save the cheerleader, save the world” plot thread. Claire is the adoptive daughter of shady Company Agent Noah Bennet, and the biological daughter of Senator Nathan Petrelli (who can fly) and her pyrokinetic mother, Meredith Gordon.
Damien-factor: Very low. Claire starts life in Heroes as your average high school teenager before she discovers the extent of her abilities, and her fate becomes tangled up with that of the world.
Victor/Louis – The Returned
Age: Either 10 or 40, depending on your perspective.
Powers: Invulnerability, immortality, ability to project visions into people’s minds.
Who is he? One of the townspeople from a remote Alpine village who mysteriously returned from the dead insatiably hungry, unable to sleep, and with no knowledge of where they’d been. Victor is an especially peculiar revenant, as he not only appears to have come back from the grave years before the others, but he has the mysterious ability to project visions – usually terrifying ones – into the minds of those around him.
Damien-factor: High. Very high. It’s not only Victor’s habit of looming out of the darkness with that impassive expression on his face, but he’s also played his part in a bloody death or thirty five. You wouldn’t exactly want to display his corpse-ridden artwork on the fridge, either.
Mordred – Merlin
Age: Approx. 10
Powers: Magic (or in Merlin’s terms, the ability to knock people over backwards using your mind).
Who is he? As a magic-user, the Druid boy is a bit of a cheat entry on this non-witchcraft collection of characters (neither The Worst Witch‘s Mildred nor Sabrina were admitted entry), but Mordred is such a key part of Merlin, we had to bend the rules. Prophesied by Kilgharrah to kill King Arthur, Mordred arrived in Merlin as a ten year old boy, but over the five series, grew into a young man whose alliance with witch Morgana made him Merlin and Arthur’s enemy.
Damien-factor: Not high to begin with, though Mordred’s willingness to kill shocked Merlin from an early age. His older incarnation lacks Damien’s eldritch kinder side, but is no less scary.
Maddy Smith – Wolfblood
Powers: Speed, strength, heightened sense of smell and hearing, ability to transform into a wolf.
Who is she: The young lead in series one of CBBC’s excellent Wolfblood, which uses wolf transformation as a metaphor for the issues of puberty, difference and identity. With Rhydian and Jana, Maddy’s one of three teen Wolfbloods in that run, but as the pack Alpha, she stands in for this particular group of super-powered teens. Wolfblood has since expanded its pack, with Leona Vaughn’s Jana taking the series four lead role.
Damien-factor: Low. Maddy’s one trip to the dark side in series one was more a Mean Girls kind of deal than anything demonic. She’s usually the moral compass and voice of reason. Just don’t call her a werewolf.
Jake Bohm – Touch
Powers: Ability to see future, past and present events through numbers.
Who is he? Jacob Bohm is the young mute, autistic son of Kiefer Sutherland’s character Martin. Jake is able to see mathematical patterns hidden in plain sight that reveal to him past, present and future events. Touch explains Jake as being an “air traffic controller for the world’s inner connectivity”, which, when you think about it, helps not a great deal. He’s also one of the ‘36 Righteous Ones’, and as such, was being surveilled by the mysterious Aster Corporation in the now-cancelled series.
Damien-factor: He’s an enigma, but no devil-child.
Maia Skouris – The 4400
Powers: Precognitive visions.
Who is she? One of the 4400, a diverse group of children and adults abducted from Earth over a long period of time since the forties, returned to modern-day Washington. Young Maia is just one of the 4400 children to return from abduction with supernatural abilities, hers being the power to see future events, which she records in her diary.
Damien-factor: None whatsoever. She’s a cutie-pie.
Emily Dinsmore – Smallville
Powers: Super speed and strength, accelerated ageing, ability to walk through solid objects.
Who is she? A cloned version of Lana Lang’s childhood buddy, Emily, created by Pete Dinsmore through a cloning technique using green Kryptonite. The real Emily drowned saving Lana’s life at the age of ten, and her clone replacement came out… not quite right. Clone Emily was super fast, super strong, and able to walk through walls, but she didn’t know right from wrong.
Damien-factor: Fairly high on her first appearance. Clone Emily’s lack of moral centre makes her a dangerous kinder, as her vengeful attempt to drown Lana Lang shows.
Isabelle Tyler – The 4400
Age: Foetus to infant (seasons 1 to 2)
Powers: Unlimited. You name it, Isabelle can do it.
Who is she? The offspring of two members of the 4400, and as such, a uniquely talented child. Isabelle speed-ages to adulthood at the end of the second season, but is such a powerful geek TV child before that, she more-than deserved a place on this list. Even in the womb, Isabelle was able to inflict injury on grown men, and as an infant, controlled the minds of a group of soldiers and forced them to shoot themselves. She can project images into adult minds, heal injuries and kill with just a look.
Damien-factor Very high, though Isabelle takes a while to grow into her limitless power and accept her inner badness, so she only reaches peak scariness as an adult.
Jasmine Pierce – Torchwood
Powers: It was her fairy protectors with the powers, but they could do all sorts. Control the weather, travel through time, asphyxiate people using rose petals…
Who is she? Jasmine only appeared in one episode of Torchwood, season one’s Small Worlds. In it, she was an isolated, bullied child chosen by a race of Fairies to become one of them. Technically then, it was the fairies with the supernatural powers, but seeing as she became one at the end of the episode, she deserves a mention here.
Damien-factor: Low-ish. Jasmine looked angelic, but she could certainly do creepy, as her enthusiasm for killing her classmates shows.
Hera/Isis Agathon – Battlestar Galactica
Powers: Cancer-curing blood, vision projection.
Who is she? The first child successfully born of a Human/Cylon union (specifically that of Galactica officers, Karl and Sharon Agathon) and according to some, mitochondrial Eve, the common ancestor of all modern humans. Hera spent much of her infancy as a tennis ball being batted between the Galactica crew and the Cylons, stolen by one, then rescued by the other, stolen back and so on. She’s a unique child, and survived to become one of the Galactica’s settlers on New Earth.
Damien-factor: This one? Negligible. She should be advertising Cow & Gate she’s so adorable.
Lilith/The Fremont Girl – Supernatural
Powers: Blasting people with a fatal white light, murdering beloved family pets.
Who is she? Technically, the little Fremont girl is just a meatsack vessel for Supernatural’s season three and four demon, Lilith. The possessed sweetie-pie spends the season three finale skipping around in a blood-soaked dress and holding her family hostage. The family name Fremont, and the plot in general, is an homage to the character of Anthony Freemont in The Twilight Zone episode, It’s A Good Life (see below).
Damien-factor: Very high indeed. She’s possessed by a demon and shows just as many murderous tendencies as The Omen’s little one.
The Anointed One – Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Powers: Basic vampire stuff: doesn’t age, super-strength, drinks blood.
Who is he? A young boy turned into a vampire when the bus he was on was attacked by The Master’s cronies in season one of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Collin was chosen by The Master to be the prophesied ‘Anointed One’, the demon child who would lead Buffy into hell and to her death. That he did, but thanks to some CPR, the Slayer was revived, slayed The Master and won the day. The Anointed One was reportedly to have been Buffy’s season two Big Bad, but the actor playing him is said to have grown too rapidly for it to be convincing, hence Spike’s rapid disposal of the vamp child in season two.
Damien-factor: High. He has the pallor, the hair and the demonic prophesy thing going on.
Finn – Misfits
Age: 9 months
Powers: The ability to compel people to care for him as their son.
Who is he? This super-powered baby appeared in the fifth episode of Misfits’ first series, using his power on Nathan (Robert Sheehan). Finn’s special ability, caused by the electrical storm that bestowed powers on the entire Misfits gang, is a rather sad one, inspired as it is by his real father having abandoned him. His story probably has a happy ending though, as it’s suggested he was about to be reunited with his real dad, which is probably for the best considering Nathan wasn’t really dad material.
Damien-factor: Very low. All baby Finn used his powers for was love.
Connor – Angel
Powers: Invulnerability, superhuman strength and speed
Who is he? The miracle human child of two vampires, Angel and Darla. Connor was born when his mother staked herself, and raised by Angel until being kidnapped and taken to a hellish dimension where he was conditioned to despise his father. Connor was so tough he literally punched his way out of the demon dimension and returned to LA, but due to the different passage of time in the two worlds, in just months of our time, he’d grown into a savage teenager with superhuman abilities.
Damien-factor: In our eyes, Connor went straight from baby to teenager, thus missing the Damien phase.
Melody Pond – Doctor Who
Age: It’s complicated.
Powers: Time Lord abilities including regeneration
Who is she? A child of the TARDIS, Melody was conceived aboard the Doctor’s ship whilst her parents – Amy and Rory – were travelling through the time vortex. As such, she was endowed with the Time Lord power of regeneration. We’ve witnessed two of Melody’s regenerations that we know of, one as a child in 1960s New York and one as a young adult in 1938 Berlin, where she became River Song (Alex Kingston) and donated her remaining regenerations to save the Doctor’s life.
Damien-factor: Melody was conditioned to kill the Doctor as a child, but her later incarnation as Mels was more Dennis the Menace than Damien.
William Van de Kamp – The X-Files
Who are they? The baby son of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, created by artificial insemination using an ova extracted from Scully during her alien abduction. William’s alien provenance is thought to explain his telekinetic ability, which mostly manifested through his spinning crib mobile. After one too many threats to his safety, Scully was forced to give up William for adoption.
Damien-factor: William was just a tiny baby last we saw him, what harm could he do?
Walt Lloyd – Lost
Powers: Precognition, ability to control the rain and make Australian Bronze Cuckoos appear at will.
Who is he? The son of Michael Dawson and one of the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 in Lost. During his time on the Island, Walt displayed unexplained powers, warning Locke not to open the hatch before he had any knowledge of it, appearing to stop the rain and various other spooky incidents. Walt’s reluctant adoptive father once said of him, “There’s something about him. Sometimes, when he’s around, things happen. He’s different somehow”. This opinion was repeated by Locke and Walt’s kidnapper Ben several times, though the reason for and extent of Walt’s powers was never explained in the series.
Damien-factor: He was creepy enough when talking backwards and sabotaged his father’s plans to leave the Island, but on the whole, Walt wasn’t a bad boy.
Kenny – The Tomorrow People
Powers: Telepathy, telekinesis, teleportation.
Who is he? One of the original Tomorrow People, a group of teenagers with superhuman abilities on the ITV children’s drama. Kenny reportedly “broke out” (developed his Homo Superior powers) at a very young age. The character was played by novice Stephen Salmon, and only appeared in the first series of the ITV children’s drama, but as the youngest Tomorrow Person, merited a place on this list.
Damien-factor: Like the rest of the Tomorrow kids, Kenny couldn’t hurt a fly.
Tommy and pals – Star Trek: The Original Series
Age: 6 – 10
Powers: Telekinesis, telepathic control, spooky chanting.
Who are they? A group of five children whose parents had all committed suicide discovered by the Enterprise on the planet Triacus in season three of Star Trek: The Original Series, And The Children Shall Lead. Under the thrall of evil Gorgan, the embodiment of Triacan marauders whom the children summoned through chanting, they took over the Enterprise using mind-control.
Damien-factor: Pretty high. This lot achieved a great deal for five little kids, though it was all really Gorgan’s fault, not theirs.
Evie – Out Of This World
Powers: Ability to stop time.
Who is she? A Californian teenage girl who discovers on her thirteenth birthday that her father (voiced by Burt Reynolds) is an alien with whom she can communicate using an extra-terrestrial “cube”. Evie’s alien power enables her to freeze time by touching the tips of her index fingers together, something that gets her out of, and into, a great number of comic scrapes.
Damien-factor: Blonde, cheery, eighties Evie couldn’t be further from the Damien creepy kid archetype.
Judith Winters – Doctor Who
Powers: Shooting deadly lightning from her hands.
Who is she? A pupil of Coal Hill School who was enslaved to a Dalek battle computer by the Black Dalek of the Renegade unit in Sylvester McCoy-era story, Remembrance Of The Daleks. According to Brief Encounter short story In The Community, Judith never recovered from the psychological trauma of her Dalek enslavement.
Doctor Who has featured a number of super-ability children over the years, most, like Judith, The Empty Child’s Jamie or Fear Her’s Chloe Webber, acting under the control of an alien species.
Damien-factor: Fairly high. She killed people, even if she was being controlled by the Daleks.
Ryan James – Smallville
Who is he? A recurring Smallville character who develops mind-reading abilities because of exposure to Green Kryptonite, Ryan becomes Clark Kent’s surrogate little brother after his mother died and his abusive stepfather was arrested. Clark’s was the only mind Ryan couldn’t read, though he learned of his secret (which he kept) via Clark’s adoptive mother’s thoughts. Sadly, Ryan didn’t live long after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.
Damien-factor: Non-existent. Poor Ryan was just a good boy who loved comics.
Anthony Fremont – The Twilight Zone
Powers: Mind-reading, psychokinesis, ability to make people and things disappear to the ‘cornfield’
Who is he? Anthony Fremont, a monster in the form of a six year old boy who terrorises the community of Peaksville in The Twilight Zone episode It’s A Good Life. Anthony not only wishes anyone or thing he thinks doesn’t like him away to ‘the cornfield’, but turns people and animals into monstrosities such as a three-headed gopher and a Jack-in-the-Box with a human head. The adults around him are forced to praise his every malicious action, constantly reminding him how loved he is, and what good things he does. A later episode of The Twilight Zone revisits the forty year old Anthony, now with a daughter who shares his powers…
Damien-factor: Off the chart. This kid would eat The Omen’s Damien for breakfast.