1 of 20 Timothy White/NBC
Shania (Bebe Wood), The New Normal
"Nana, you're a bigot. I'm unfriending you." And with that memorable line, a new precocious TV kid is born. Instead of resting on her cute-kid laurels, Shania quickly skyrocketed to legendary status in the series' second episode when she busted out a Grey Gardens impression that most actresses twice, or even thrice, her age wouldn't be able to pull off. Even more impressive? She keeps it up for almost the entire episode. Respect.
2 of 20 Jordin Althaus/AMC
Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka), Mad Men
Once just the cute ballerina doing pliés in the Draper living room, Sally has grown up before our eyes to become one of Mad Men's most important characters. Whether losing her grandfather or adjusting to her parents' divorce, Sally balances her sadness with maturity and poise, despite being parented by the television. Though she's not immune to acting out (running away to the city, "touching herself" at a sleepover), Sally no longer belongs at the kids' table. And, hey, she makes a mean cocktail!
3 of 20 Bob D'Amico/ABC
Manny Delgado (Rico Rodriguez), Modern Family
Manny isn't the oldest kid on this list, but he certainly surpasses everyone in wit and wisdom. The old soul drinks coffee and dishes out advice, but it's his style of wooing the opposite sex that warms our hearts. (He's quite the romantic.) In a show filled with standout child stars, Manny is the top dog.
4 of 20 20th Century Fox/Everett Collection
Maeby Funke (Alia Shawkat), Arrested Development
Between her flighty and self-absorbed absentee mom Lindsay and her oblivious, never-nude father Tobias, Maeby always had to act older than her age. But while other TV teens were experimenting with drugs, drinking and boys, Maeby cemented her place in our hearts when her wise-beyond-her-years act landed her a sweet, albeit fake, job as a studio executive at a major film company. Maeby's only blind spot? Her complete lack of awareness of George Michael's affections for her.
5 of 20 Miranda Penn Turin/Fox
Maddie Fox (Maggie Elizabeth Jones), Ben and Kate
Those eyes! That smile! Her voice! It's easy to melt for this young star. Although we've only seen the first episode of this freshman comedy, it's crystal clear that Maddie has a perfect foil/partner-in-crime in her mom's "older brother" (read: surrogate second child), Ben.
6 of 20 Carsey-Werner/Everett Collection
Olivia Kendall (Raven-Symone), The Cosby Show
Once former cute kid Rudy hit puberty, Denise's stepdaughter Olivia was brought in to fill the requisite "precocious toddler" role. And she did not disappoint. The fashionably dressed tot was sassy, snappy, tech-savvy and adorably snarky whenever someone asked her how she was doing: "I'm still alive!" That's so Raven.
7 of 20 Fox
Lisa Simpson (voiced by Yeardley Smith), The Simpsons
Between her 159 IQ, Mensa membership, political activism, strict vegetarianism, awesome saxophone skills and all-inclusive knowledge on every single topic known to man — at the age of 8! — it would not be a surprise at all if Lisa were adopted.
8 of 20 Bob D'Amico/ABC
Brick Heck (Atticus Shaffer), The Middle
Talk about "adorkable." The youngest child in this eccentric TV family, Brick is an introverted lover of fonts and an exceptionally brilliant bookworm, although he sometimes has trouble applying himself. But his idiosyncrasies are what we love about him. How else to explain why we find his bizarre habit of whispering the last words in a sentence to himself so hilarious?
9 of 20 Ashly Holloway
Sammi Greene (Ashly Holloway), Curb Your Enthusiasm
The daughter of Larry David’s best friend, Sammi is his tiniest adversary on Curb Your Enthusiasm. Anyone who has Susie Greene for a mother is bound to be a bit brash, but whether she's giving an off-key musical performance at a house party or blackmailing Larry into being a "social assassin," Sammi never fails to bring out Larry's inner misanthropist.
10 of 20 Everett Collection
Arnold Jackson (Gary Coleman), Diff'rent Strokes
What other kid can handle getting sued, kidnapped and mugged over the course of eight seasons? And somehow he still found the confidence to fill in for his teacher at school, hit on an older woman (Tootie from The Facts of Life in a crossover episode) and impersonate Mr. T. And if his older brother ever tried to pull a fast one, Arnold put him in his place with his signature catchphrase, "What'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?"
11 of 20 Everett Collection
Michelle Tanner (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen), Full House
Even as a toddler, Michelle always managed to get the last word. (Though, it was often simply: "You got it, dude!") Michelle always had her father figures eating out of the palm of her hand, especially Beach Boys-singing Uncle Jesse, who probably inspired Michelle's adventurous side. Remember when she bought her own pet donkey? Talk about an independent lady!
12 of 20 Helen Sloan/HBO
Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), Game of Thrones
Nothing forces a kid to grow up like losing a parent. Add to that her brother becoming crippled and her sister being taken hostage by her own fiancé, and 9-year-old Arya quickly ages another 50 years. And Arya's favorite lullaby? Listing the names of all those she wants to kill. What ever happened to "Rock-a-Bye Baby"?
13 of 20 Ken Regan/Showtime
Grace Peyton (Ruby Jerins), Nurse Jackie
Grace might be the most emo character to ever appear on television — and she's not even a teenager yet! Grace develops a serious fascination with death and even seems to worry far more than her irresponsible mother Jackie ever does. If the two could somehow meet in the middle, maybe the Peyton family could function somewhat normally.
14 of 20 Sergei Bachlakov/ABC
Henry Mills (Jared S. Gilmore), Once Upon a Time
As one of the few characters who knows that the residents of Storybrooke are cursed fairy-tale characters, young Henry carries a lot on his shoulders. But with his drive and ambition (he brought Emma back to Storybrooke and even ate the Evil Queen's poisoned apple turnover to prove he was right), it's no wonder that he's the hero of this fairy tale.
15 of 20 Everett Collection
Claudia Salinger (Lacey Chabert), Party of Five
This child violin prodigy amazes not only with her smarts, but how independent and self-sufficient she is even at the age of 11 when her parents died. Yes, she can be a little pipsqueak at times, but she inspired a generation of young girls to get bangs and wear faded overalls because they wanted to be just like her.
16 of 20 Everett Collection
Punky Brewster (Soleil Moon Frye), Punky Brewster
For a child abandoned by her parents, Punky is remarkably cheery, warm and far more tolerant than adults twice her age. The series never met a "very special episode" subject it didn't like (see: The 1986 Challenger tragedy), which just reinforced Punky's open-mindedness and maturity. How many 10-year-olds have you seen try their darndest to stay out of foster care to avoid being yet another faceless orphan?
17 of 20 Fox
Stewie Griffin (Seth MacFarlane), Family Guy
A homicidal technological genius, this 1-year-old prodigy is bent on world domination! Speaking with a rather campy British accent, he's unafraid to use his advanced weaponry, his evil clone or a diabolical kidnapping scheme to punish those who stand in his way — or steal his teddy bear.
18 of 20 Isabella Vosmikova/Fox
Jake Bohm (David Mazouz), Touch
Let's just start off with the fact that this kid is a genius. But despite his advanced mind, he manages to help his dad, played by Kiefer Sutherland, solve puzzles and even prevent crimes before they happen. And he does it all without saying a word!
19 of 20 Andrew Eccles/ABC
Justin Suarez (Mark Indelicato), Ugly Betty
Betty's fabulous, fashion-conscious nephew Justin provides Ugly Betty a vehicle to deal with issues like bullying and homosexuality. The teen's coming-out journey, which series creator Silvio has said was modeled after his own, culminates with Justin getting a boyfriend in Season 4, drawing praise from groups like GLAAD, as well as backlash from some fans. Who says adults are the only ones to court controversy?
20 of 20 Monty Brinton/Showtime
Shane Botwin (Alexander Gould), Weeds
Once the innocent moral compass of the show, Shane soon falls prey to his mother's troubled influence. Before long, Shane turns to drugs, alcohol, sex and even murder — all well before the age of 18. But the most troubling thing young Shane has ever done? Let's just say it involves a naked picture of his mom. This sure puts our own teenage rebellion into perspective...