Romances aren't the only things that are complicated by a longer-than-natural lifespan. A hero who is immortal (or even extremely long-lived) may outlive his friends as well.
As with Mayfly-December Romance
, this is a good way to add Angst
to an immortal character and explain their attitude of Who Wants to Live Forever?
If they could find a fellow immortal to share their lives with or discover some way to make their current True Companion
immortal, they might change their minds and decide that Living Forever Is Awesome
Of course, this is not always possible, and even if it is, it could end badly.
Another option is to make the immortal mortal, but, again, this is not always possible. More often, the star-crossed friends just have to learn to live with it.
There are different varieties of Mayfly December Friendship, depending on whether the immortal and mortal are the same age or not. It also varies based on whether the situation is mentioned In-Universe
or left for the audience to realize on their own.
While this resembles and may overlap with Intergenerational Friendship
, Intergenerational Friendship
is about the age gap between friends. Mayfly December Friendship focuses on the fact that one friend, who does not need to be older or younger than the other, will outlive him/her. Additionally, while Mayfly December Friendship can be done with two non-immortals, the life expectancy gap is much greater than would be expected for an Intergenerational Friendship
to Mayfly-December Romance
. May result from Interspecies Friendship
Anime and Manga
- Banner of the Stars. Though she doesn't show it much openly, Lafiel does worry at times about her friendship with Jinto, since Abh live much longer than humans do.
- The Incredible Hulk and all his various friendships if The Incredible Hulk: The End is to be believed. He is the last sentient being on the entire planet Earth. Even Banner dies, and the Hulk is finally alone, as he has always requested.
- Superman is sometimes portrayed as immortal, meaning that he will outlive the human friends he cares about. It becomes a plot point in Superman/Batman #76. Superman is talking to Wonder Woman in the wake of Bruce Wayne's death. Clark is discussing how they'll outlive everyone they know and how they're higher beings. Diana stops him, telling him that no matter how he wants to rationalize it, he's just a man grieving for a lost friend.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series Fan Fic Always Tomorrow, a disabled Kirk mentions this, saying that Spock shouldn't leave Starfleet to be with him, because he will die while Spock is still fairly young, leaving him with nothing. Spock counters that he was alone before Kirk's arrival and being alone after his death will be worse if he can't even have the time with him that's possible.
- Paul Edgecomb has learned in his many days in the retirement home to avoid getting close to anyone. Ever since his contact with Magical Negro John Coffey while serving as a prison guard in The Green Mile, Paul has outlived all his family, friends and acquaintances ... except one: a tiny mouse likewise touched by Coffey.
- Although never addressed in the movie, but if rats and humans have the same life expectancies in Ratatouille as in Real Life, then the friendship between Linguini (human) and Remy (rat) cannot last for more than a few years.
- Dresden Files. Due to wizards living for 3 to 4 hundred years, pretty much every friendship Harry (or any wizard) has with a regular human will be this
- The Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Immortal Coil dealt with this in connection with Data. Taking place not long after First Contact, the plotline includes Data's emotional realization of what he's always known intellectually — he will almost certainly outlive all of his friends on the Enterprise. And then another set, and another. The actual plot of the book assuaged these fears by introducing a league of artificially-created organisms, which Data could retire to whenever he wants. And then Nemesis happened...note
- In Safehold Nimune/Merlin is in a robot body with potential life in the thousands of years, she/he's injected his/her friends with nanites that will give them perfect immunity to infectious illnesses and cancer, but doesn't dare give them life extension treatments because their very public life makes it impossible to do so without it being noticed.
- The Tolkienverse:
- Gandalf is Really 700 Years Old. His friends among the hobbits (Bilbo and Frodo) and humans (Aragorn) are not likely to live more than 100 years. It's subverted with Bilbo and Frodo, however, given that they also become immortal go to Valinor together with Gandalf in the last chapter of The Lord of the Rings.
- In The Lord of the Rings, Legolas (an immortal elf) and Gimli (a mortal dwarf who may live for centuries) become best friends. Subverted in the appendices when it is stated that Gimli was eventually granted immortality and left for Valinor with his elven friend.
- Doctor Who. The Doctor is very aware of the fact that he will outlive all his Companions.
- Captain Jack Harkness has this problem as well. He outlives all his friends and his Torchwood coworkers have a habit of dying young anyways. In one of the Torchwood tie in novels, there's a flashback to the 60s he admits he doesn't so much have friends as acquaintances and what feels like years of comradeship to them feels like mere months to him. Although on a slightly less depressing note, the character he was talking had seen Jack's future and assures him that the 21st century team the series focuses on are truly his friends.
- Played With in New Amsterdam, where an immortal (but looks early 30s) man is great friends with and gets advice from grizzled old black bartender, who it turns out is his son from a relationship he had in the 1930s.
- When the head of Commander Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Time's Arrow" is found among 20th century relics on Earth, the crew attempt to comfort him about his destruction. Rather than being morose about this, Data is delighted that he will have a "death," as his expected longevity means that so many of his friends in Starfleet will have lived and died that he will be unable to remember them all properly; whereas having only a limited few close friends means that Data can cherish them much more dearly. See Literature.
- Fire Emblem Awakening. Nowi, Tiki, and Nah being Manakete's (Dragon people. or in Nah's case a half dragon hybrid) live for thousands of years, and have this kind of friendship with their non romantic supports. In Tiki's support with Nah, Tiki laments that this is a "curse" of their race, saying Manaketes inherently care for the human race, but are destined to suffer because they always outlive them.
- Halo. Master Chief, a Spartan supersoldier, is paired with an AI named Cortana, and the two grow to become inseparable. However, their friendship contains a dark undertone: Halo-verse AIs live for only 7 years before they become rampant, meaning Cortana will have to be mercy-killed by then before she goes insane. By the time of Halo 4 Cortana has surpassed her lifespan but is rapidly deteriorating, and Master Chief struggles to get to Earth in hopes of her creator formulating a cure. He fails and Cortana dies, though not before saving John's own life in the process.
- A variation (Mayfly December Family) in Mass Effect 2. At one point, you can overhear a conversation between a Salarian tourist and his Asari stepdaughter where he frets about she and her mother will outlive him by several centuries (because Asari live for up to 1,000 years while Salarians are lucky if they make it to 30.)This is an extremely common issue for the Asari, especially because mating with other species is considered ideal for them, and yet most other species have much shorter lifespans.
- Touhou: Fujiwara no Mokou is an immortal human who's best friend is Keine Kawamishira, a half-youkai human. Fanon likes to explore what happens when Keine dies, leaving Mokou entirely alone (the only other immortal is her Arch-Enemy).
- Wild ARMs 2
- Marivel Armitage who is an immortal vampire, and the Last of Her Kind, has this kind of friendship with the main characters. She helps work on the group's tech early on in the game, and it's possible to have her join your party late in the second half of the game's story, although she's hesitant to do so as she's afraid of being too attached to people.
- In a Cut Scene it's shown that Marivel's also developed this kind friendship with Tony offscreen. Tony is a kid living in Ashley's village. He looks up to her, and implies he wants to become a vampire like her so she won't be alone.
- Vampire Girl. Levana explains this to Laura as part of her reasons for not wanting to be a vampire, on the grounds that she'll always outlive anyone she may befriend.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: While it it's only Fanon that Princess Celestia is immortal, she has been alive for thousands of years without any sign of wear. Given the word from the creators that "Twilight will not outlive her friends", this means that Celestia will outlive her faithful student.
- ThunderCats (2011). The protagonists came across a group of plant people named the Petalars, which have a lifespan of a day. Lion-O in particular became friends with one petalar called Emrick who goes from a curious child to an Eager Squire to a level-headed warrior to an wise old man all in the span of said day, and while for the Petalars the Thundercats were lifelong friends who were with them in their intergenerational Exodus, for the Thundercats it was a tragically short friendship.
- Humans and their pets. Most human beings have longer lifespans than dogs and cats, so their pets will probably die before they do.