Everybody loves teenage heroes. Grown-ups and teens alike snarf young-adult novels. But which kind of teen protagonist offers the most escapist bang for your buck? Here’s our survey of the 10 types of teen hero, ranked by pure wish-fulfilment.
#10: The Tool of the Man
Upsides: You get to feel guilty about all the terrible things you did for the Man. You’re badarse and clever, or the Man wouldn’t have any use for you.
Downsides: You don’t really get to be a cool rebel, until after you’ve already been a tool. Probably no romance for you.
#9: The Cute Sidekick
Upsides: You get to hang out with superheroes, time travellers or space explorers. Maybe they let you steer the ship. You can have the occasional solo adventure.
Downsides: You’re just a distraction from the real hero or heroes. You’re probably not going to last. You get blown up by Cybermen or the Joker. Your “rebellious” phase involves being a jerk to the hero everyone likes.
#8: The Footloose Adventurer
Upsides: You get to stow away aboard spaceships or run away to the secret magic town. You go new places and meet cool people. You’re probably really resourceful and good at talking your way into and out of stuff.
Downsides: High likelihood of getting killed off at the end of your story. You probably explore social issues. Your relentless optimism probably turns a lot of people off.
#7: The Young Detective, Spy, Inventor And So On.
Upsides: You come up with lots of cool shit, and carry awesome gadgets. You might have a perky sidekick. Adults don’t get away with things because of your meddling. You get to drive before the legal age.
Downsides: You’re just a juvenile version of whatever adult genre you belong to, and you’re always going to be constrained by that genre’s limits. Plus you’re a spy who can’t get laid or kill anyone, or a detective who can’t drink cheap whiskey.
#6: The Disney Princess
Upsides: Amazing dresses. You get to sing earwormy songs, and everybody stops what they’re doing to listen. Your trinkets are probably alive, and friendly. You probably have a cool romance, plus these days you drive the story.
Downsides: You can’t really get your hands dirty and still be a princess. You’re going to have to rule a kingdom someday, and sort out people’s disputes over cattle and pesticides and intellectual property and stuff.
#5:Teenage Witch, Teen Wolf, Teen Vampire And So On
Upsides: Nobody understands you. You have awesome abilities, which let you skip school and blow shit up in the woods. Your hair always looks to die for. Your sex life is robust.
Downsides: Your abilities cause more problems than they solve, and not just in a cool angst-inducing way. People tend to die around you. If you’re a werewolf, there’s some crappy alpha screwing with you. If you’re a vampire, everybody thinks you’re a blood whore. Supernatural politics are worse than regular politics.
#4: The Misfit Outcast
Upsides: You’re a total individual. If there’s some kind of system of categorisation that everybody has to fit into, you don’t fit. Everybody probably hates you, which is cool in an angsty way. You might have some cool scars or other distinctive marks.
Downsides: You may have to keep lots of secrets, and that gets old. You’re still defined by the system, even if it rejects you.
#3: The Hinge in the Paranormal Love Triangle
Upsides: Approximately two supernatural hotties want you. There is smouldering. You’ll probably end up becoming supernatural yourself, one way or the other. You get to feel popular and important, even if ordinary people don’t understand you (bonus!). You’re like a misfit outcast whom everybody wants to marry.
Downsides: You don’t necessarily get much agency besides choosing between Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. You’re stuck in a world where everybody thinks you’re weak because you’re human. There’s probably no sex, or at least not enough sex.
#2: The Rebel
Upsides: You’re the only one standing against a dystopian, post-apocalyptic regime. You probably know the truth, while everyone else is deluded. You have people who would die for you, and a lot of them actually do. You probably get the love triangle and you get to kill things.
Downsides: You get dragged into politics. Dystopias are kind of a bummer after a while. People around you don’t just die, which would be awesome — they also get messed up, emotionally and physically, and you have to live with them afterwards. Nobody is who they seem, and not in a sexy masquerade-y way.
#1: The Chosen Saviour
Upsides: You don’t even have to do anything — someone decided you were awesome before you were born. You face ultimate evil, and probably win. Everybody looks up to you, even when you capslock out on them. You get cool training, and a mentor who dies for you. You face your own darkness and master it, which is kind of awesome.
Downsides: You’ll probably end up almost committing incest. Prophecy and/or destiny means you have to jump through hoops like a dolphin at the aquarium. Nobody really likes you, they just need you to fix things. You’re basically a heroic plumber.