Created By: Hero_Gal_2347 on May 9, 2014 Last Edited By: Hero_Gal_2347 on June 15, 2014
Troped

Mayfly December Friendship

Friendship between two characters with very different life expectancies

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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.

Sister Trope 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.

Comic Books
  • 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.

Fan Fic
  • 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.

Film
  • 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.

Literature
  • 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.

Live-Action TV
  • 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.

Video Games
  • 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.

Web Comics
  • 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.

Western Animation
  • 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.

Real Life
  • Humans and their pets. Most human beings have longer lifespans than dogs and cats, so their pets will probably die before they do.
Community Feedback Replies: 68
  • May 9, 2014
    DAN004
  • May 9, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    ^ Not the same thing. In a Mayfly December Relationship, the two may be the same age, but one never ages and the other does.

    For instance, in Star Trek The Original Series, Kirk and Spock are roughly the same age, but Vulcans' longer lifespan means that Spock will outlive Kirk by at least half a century.
  • May 9, 2014
    Snicka
    I guess this is meant to be a Super Trope to Mayfly December Romance? Anyway, Mayfly December Romance should be mentioned (maybe potholed?) in the description.
  • May 10, 2014
    DAN004
  • May 10, 2014
    partner555
    Should Odd Friendship be mentioned somewhere?
  • May 10, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    3x ^ No, I meant this as the platonic counterpart to Mayfly December Romance. As I said, romances would not be the only casualties of an unusual life span.

    2x ^ Isn't Odd Friendship more about personality differences?
  • May 10, 2014
    LobsterMagnusNovus
    • Humans and their pets. (Usually the humans are the longer living ones, with parrots and turtles it can be the other way around though.)
  • May 10, 2014
    bulmabriefs144
  • May 10, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ more like Sister Trope.
  • So, I guess what the OP is thinking of is in a case like Sesame Street, where the human characters (Maria, Luis, Gina, for example) grow with the course of the series, but the Muppet characters remain the same age over the years.
  • May 10, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ The muppets as we know them are just out-of-universe immortal. They've never been stated to be long lived, let alone immortal.
  • I missed the immortal mention. Never mind. Well then... here's an example that may, or may not exactly count:

    Web Comics
    • 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.
  • May 11, 2014
    Snicka
    I propose this should be called Mayfly December Friendship rather than "Relationship".
  • May 11, 2014
    Damr1990
    in the 2011 reboot of Thundercats, the protagonist came across a group of plant people named the Petalars,wich have a lifespan of a day, Lion-O in parituclar became friend with one petalar called Emrick who goes from a curious child to an Eager Squire to a levelheadded 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 they were a tragically short friendship
  • May 11, 2014
    Arivne
  • May 11, 2014
    Omrega
    Reply deleted.
  • May 11, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    5x ^ The character doesn't have to be immortal, just longer-lived than the other character.
  • May 11, 2014
    xanderiskander
    Don't link the article to itself in the description by wiki wording the title. We have an administrivia page about this, and it's considered bad formatting. The description itself could use some work too. It should at least bring up there's similar issues to Mayfly December Romance.

    Video games
    • 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.
    • 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 cutscene it's shown Marivel's also developed this kind friendship with Tony offscreen, who is a kid living in Ashley's village. Tony looks up to her, and implies he wants to become a vampire like her so she won't be alone.

  • May 11, 2014
    aurora369
    Parrots are not that long-lived. The longest lived parrots have the same lifespan as humans, qualifying them as pets as "december-december". If, however, a human acquires a young parrot companion later in their life, the parrot has all chances to outlive the human.
  • May 11, 2014
    xanderiskander
    Neither are pet turtles long lived. Tortoises can live longer than humans, but those aren't ordinarily pets unless you have a permit to take care of an exotic animal or you have job where you'd take care of one (and it wouldn't be a "pet" in that case).
  • May 11, 2014
    StrixObscuro
    Video Games
    • At one point in Mass Effect 2, 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 1000 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.
  • May 12, 2014
    randomsurfer
    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.
  • May 15, 2014
    Tuckerscreator
    • 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 A Is 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.
  • May 15, 2014
    SAMAS
    • Although it's rarely brought up, the friendships between various Autobots and their human companions are always one of these.
  • May 15, 2014
    nitrokitty
    • In 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.
  • May 17, 2014
    randomsurfer
    The Incredible Hulk and all his various friendships (as well as romantic relationships) 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 wanted.
  • May 18, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    ^^^ What is the Transformers example? A movie? A series? A comic?
  • May 18, 2014
    KyuKyu
    The Witches : The young unnamed protagonist and his elderly grandmother. Although, when the boy is turned into a mouse permanently, he is actually consoled by the fact that he will no longer greatly outlive his grandmother.
  • May 18, 2014
    Snicka
    ^^ I think they mean that it is present in all media in the franchise via Fridge Logic, although almost always looked over.
  • May 21, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    Actually, I'm not sure that the The Witches one qualifies. It's more of an Intergenerational Friendship.
  • May 21, 2014
    DAN004
    So... should the concern of one outliving the other be a part of the requirement?
  • May 22, 2014
    Arivne
    • Examples section formatting
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
      • Changed media section titles(s) to our standard style.
      • Blue Linked media section title(s).
    • Added blank line(s) for readability.
    • Namespaced work name(s).
    • De-capitalized Significant Capital(s): (Hobbits).
    • Blue Linked (cutscene).
    • Added context to the Real Life example so it wouldn't be a Zero Context Example.
  • May 24, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    I tried to explain a bit more in the description.
  • May 26, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    Dan004 and Snicka: Do examples in Mayfly December Romance sometimes include Fridge Horror ones?
  • May 26, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ fortunately yes, they do.
  • May 26, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    I guess that opens up a lot of new possibilities...and answers your earlier question. In that case, it would not have to be lampshaded.
  • May 27, 2014
    paycheckgurl
    Adding to the Doctor Who Example: 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 comradery 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.
  • May 27, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    In the Tolkienverse, Gandalf is Really 700 Years Old. His friends among the Hobbits (or humans, for that matter) are not likely to live more than 100 years.
  • May 27, 2014
    Omrega
    In the Star Trek The Original Series fanfic 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 by saying 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.
  • May 27, 2014
    Snicka
    ^^ Also in the Tolkienverse (specifically The Lord Of The Rings), Legolas (an immortal elf) and Gimli (a mortal dwarf who may live for centuries, but that's still very short compared to the elves' lifespan) become best friends. In the appendices it is stated that Gimli was eventually granted immortality and left to Valinor with his elven friend.
  • May 28, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    More examples? Comments? Hats?
  • May 28, 2014
    Snicka
    Subverted with Bilbo and Frodo, who also become immortal go to Valinor together with Gandalf in the last chapter of The Lord Of The Rings. (Since Valinor is some kind of afterlife for elves and elf-friends, it's a bit of an Esoteric Happy Ending.)
  • May 31, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    More examples? Comments?
  • May 31, 2014
    eroock
    removed (actually a Mayfly December Romance)
  • May 31, 2014
    Chabal2
    • 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).
    • Ciaphas Cain (a human with access to juvenat treatments, meaning he's at least 200 years old, though at the time he was probably in his thirties) and Drumon (a Space Marine whose age is unknown and won't die of old age, either falling on the battlefield or tranferred into a Dreadnought, awaking only to fight).
  • May 31, 2014
    fetchystick
    Aragorn and Arwen, Lord of the Rings? One of the biggest points of conflict in the relationship was the fact that Arwen was immortal and Aragorn was not.
  • May 31, 2014
    Andygal
    An example by David Weber, copied from the Mayfly December Romance page because it actually belongs to this trope.
    • 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.

  • May 31, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    Some of these don't qualify. You want Mayfly December Romance for anything that involves Love Interests.

    I don't understand the Ciaphas Cain one. Sounds as thought they're both functionally immortal, unless Drumon is killed in battle.
  • June 1, 2014
    Snicka
  • June 1, 2014
    Chabal2
    Cain's life is just extended beyond normal human lifespans, at 200 he's officially retired. Space Marines, however, are basically immortal.
  • June 2, 2014
    Snicka
    This is a Fridge Horror example:

    • 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.
  • June 2, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Though pretty sure they never have dilemma over that in the movie itself.

    Now that's tough call.
  • June 2, 2014
    Xathan
    • 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.
  • June 2, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    ^^ I don't think all the Mayfly December Romance examples are non-fridge.

    Also, I wonder if the fact that Cain has access to rejuvenating treatments makes him functionally immortal.
  • June 2, 2014
    DAN004
  • June 8, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    ^ Wouldn't Fridge Horror relationships of this sort fall under Implied Trope?
  • June 8, 2014
    DAN004
    Fridge X and Implied Trope are related to each other, yeah.

  • June 8, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    Live Action TV
    • 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, seeing as he will somehow come to be destroyed. 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.
  • June 9, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    ^^ So wouldn't those work?
  • June 9, 2014
    DAN004
    Thinking about it again... I've seen these here:
    • Alice the immortal and Bob the mortal are friends. They're still the same age.
      • scenario 1) Alice or Bob worries that Alice may outlive him.
      • scenario 2) they never talk about such things (meaning that the implications are only inside audience's heads)
    • Alice the immortal and Bob the mortal are friends, and she has been going for much longer than him.
      • scenario 1) Alice or Bob worries that Alice may outlive him.
      • scenario 2) they never talk about such things (meaning that the implications are only inside audience's heads)

    Tough call indeed.
  • So... launch?
  • June 10, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    Is that supposed to be done immediately when the five-hat mark is reached?
  • June 10, 2014
    xanderiskander
    ^Well, no you don't have to launch it immediately. There could be more things you want to finish working on first.
  • June 10, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • 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.
  • June 10, 2014
    Omrega
    Deleted.
  • June 10, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    Dan, may I use your explanation of the two types in the description?
  • June 10, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ I actually was asking you which scenario fits this trope. If you think all of them do, though, go ahead.
  • June 13, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    I'm not familiar with the Ciaphas Cain stories. Will Ciaphas die eventually in spite of the rejuvenation treatments?

    I'm guessing it's Autobots that live longer. What place is Transformers? Film? Comics?
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=kuu0nhay23zmwwkks7ogu848&trope=MayflyDecemberFriendship