Everybody loves teenage heroes. Grown-ups and teens alike snarf young-adult novels. Katniss is owning the cineplex. 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-fulfillment.
Upsides: You get to feel guilty about all the terrible things you did for the Man. You're badass 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.
Upsides: You get to hang out with superheroes, time travelers, 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.
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.
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.
Upsides: Amazing dresses. You get to sing earwormy songs, and everybody stops what they're doing to listen. Your tchotchkes 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.
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.
Upsides: You're a total individual. If there's some kind of system of categorization 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.
Upsides: Approximately two supernatural hotties want you. There is smoldering. 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.
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 whom they seem, and not in a sexy masquerade-y way.
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 bitchin.
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.