Created By: miru on January 14, 2012 Last Edited By: EdnaWalker on August 2, 2013
Troped

Humanlike Animal Aging

Animals age and develop like humans do.

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Trope
In animation and comics, animal characters develop and age like humans. In reality, they tend to have much different lifespans ranging, from mere weeks to centuries longer than any human could hope to live. In addition, they usually develop quite differently and sometimes have life stages that are completely alien to humans.

This trope takes on three different forms, human-like lifespan and longevity, human-like aging process, and human-like developmental process.

  • Human-like Lifespan/Longevity: This is when an animal character has the same longevity as a human, that is, live as long as a human. Depending on the species this is either accomplished by shortening or lengthening their life span.
  • Human-like Aging Process: This is when an animal character shows their age in the way that a human does. Examples of this include gray hair or fur even on a non-mammal character, wrinkles, liver spots, bushy eyebrows, balding head, and sagging Non-Mammal Mammaries.
  • Human-like Development Process: This is when an animal character develops in the way or at the pace that a human does.
  • Human-like Baby Animal Body Proportions: This is when baby animal is inaccurately given body proportions like those of human babies. For example, real-life calves, fawns, and foals have long legs, so that they can stand shortly after birth and reach to suckle.

Averting or lampshading this trope is sometimes done as a Furry Reminder.


Human-like Lifespan/Longevity Subversions, Lampshades, and Exceptions:

Fan Fiction
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic A Mighty Demon Slayer Grooms Some Ponies zigzags this. It states that while ponies in Ponyland aged like normal horses in the Generation 1 My Little Pony era, by the time of the Friendship is Magic era--several thousand years later--they have become much more humanlike, including a human lifespan.
    • A pony remarks about an eleven-year-old human.
    "[You're] eleven? That's what, two in human years?"

Film
  • In the first Madagascar when Marty the zebra turns 10, it's hinted that he is middle aged at that age.
  • It's enforced in the case of The Secret Of NIMH, where the rats and mice who were experimented on at NIMH were given long lifespans. It's mentioned that Johnathan Brisby would have far outlived his wife, a simple field mouse, had he not been killed by a cat first.

Literature
  • Mentioned but not elaborated upon in The Beginning, the last book of the Animorphs series. Tobias, a human trapped in morph as a red-tailed hawk, briefly mentions that he's old for a red-tail, but he has absolutely no idea how much time he has left.
  • Justified in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in regards to Scabbers, Ron's pet rat that had been alive for at least 12 years and had belonged to Ron's older brother before him. Ron is told by a magical pet shop owner that a plain country rat such as Scabbers generally doesn't live more than a few years, but of course it's revealed that Scabbers is really Peter Pettigrew, a traitor and presumed dead wizard in disguise.

Newspaper Comics
  • Originally averted by Garfield, who mentions on his second birthday that the human equivalent of fourteen, and complains about aging ever since he turned four. Later played straight, as he's still relatively healthy and active over 30, though the average lifespan of a housecat is 12-14 years at the least and 20 years at the most. While there are unconfirmed reports of cats living longer, the oldest cat ever recorded was 36, who died a few weeks later.
    • If Garfield's 30, then Jon's what, in his fifties? The relevant point is that the characters in Garfield, like most comic strips, just don't age. (If we take Garfield's comments about the length of time since the strip started being his age literally, he was never a kitten.)

Western Animation
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Phineas and Ferb's Quantum Boogaloo" Candace travels 20 years into the future where Perry is still alive, though old. In reality, platypodes only live for 10 years.
  • The lifespan part of this trope is averted with Brian Griffin the dog from Family Guy as occasional references are made to his age (seven) and longevity. Also, Peter also addressed the fact that Brian will only live a fraction of the time Peter will.
  • One episode of Pinky and the Brain hinted at the lifespan of real mice, which is 2-4 years. Brain says that at 2 years old, he's lived half his life.
  • This isn't mentioned, but it's strongly implied in Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers. In the pilot, when Gadget is added to the group, it's mostly because she is the daughter of a friend of one of the protagonists, and she is the only one who can fly his plane now that he is dead. It is mentioned that said friend and protagonist fought together in "The Great War", which seems to be an expy war for World War II. For any of this part of the pilot to work, either,
    • a) Gadget was born about a decade or so after the real actual WWII, making her actually anywhere from 20-30 something at the time of the pilot
    • b) The Great War isn't an expy for WWII, but a more recent conflict such as Vietnam, and Gadget is actually 12, and demonstrating a "puberty = adulthood" trope
    • c) Gadget and every other animal is aging just like they should, The Great War happened in the past 3 or 4 years, is not an expy for any human war, and is an expy for a covert black ops action instead
    • d) It's not the late 80's in the show
    • As all the visual evidence, parody, and inferences point to a) (right down to the plane they fly), and in the show, it's clearly the late 80's, this trope has to be in play.
  • The Hub's Pound Puppies (2010) lampshades this trope in one episode.


Human-like Aging Process Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • In One Piece, the Fishmen (a Fish People, not a Half-Human Hybrid) ages not unlike humans. Evidenced in Hody Jones and his New Fishman Pirates, who, after a steroid-induced Rapid Aging, are shown with wrinkles, saggy eyesockets, gray beards and teeth loss.

Film
  • We could know that Master Shifu in Kung Fu Panda is old by his white mustache, bushy eyebrows and grayish fur (and not to mention being really small).
  • Rufus the cat from The Rescuers has a grey moustache that indicates his old age.
  • Jock the Scottish Terrier from Lady and the Tramp has a grey moustache and bushy grey eyebrows.
  • While he certainly has a far longer than human lifespan, some of the clues to Yoda's advanced age include wisps of gray hair and the fact that he is almost always seen either walking with a cane or in a scifi version of a wheelchair.

Western Animation
  • In "The Old Gray Hare," after a Flash Forward to the year 2000, a 70-or-so-year-old Bugs Bunny is shown with white chin whiskers.
  • The Tom and Jerry cartoon "The Missing Mouse" has Jerry Mouse pose as an escaped lab mouse filled with a volatile explosive. Jerry's ruse dissolves, however, and Jerry gets booted out of the house. Tom soon captures another mouse, thinking Jerry is repeating the trick. When Jerry shows himself elsewhere, though, Tom realizes that he's abusing the explosive mouse. This realization ages Tom dramatically: white eyebrows, white ear-hairs, baggy skin, collapsed posture. He looks like a centenarian.


Human-like Development Process Subversions, Lampshades, and Exceptions:

Film

Literature
  • In the Redwall series most animals seem to use "seasons" as a substitute for years, Tagg for example is stated to be an adult at 16 seasons. They seem to equate one season to one year, and that's still far too slow. In the example that's given of Tagg, to be realistic he would have had to have been an adult by around 13 months, or just over four seasons. Also, the mice ought to be fully grown in well under one season.


Examples of Human-like Baby Animal Body Proportions:

Film
  • Averted with the fawns in Bambi as they have long, ungainly legs like real fawns.

Video Games
  • Minecraft features calves (baby cows) with large heads and stubby legs.

Western Animation


Examples of Two, Three, or All Four Forms:

Literature
  • Averted in Warrior Cats. Aside from a few inaccuracies, they age and develop just like real cats do. The exceptions to the lifespan rule are the clan leaders, who have 9 lives. They measure age for kittens as "moons".

Western Animation
  • Zig-Zagged in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic - ponies seem to live as long as humans. On the other hand, baby ponies seem to develop very quickly, like real horses.
    • The episode "The Cutie Mark Chronicles" reveals, in a flashback, that Fluttershy as a filly resembled a real filly with long legs, compared to the others which are just smaller versions of their adult forms. Presumably, this was to illustrate what a late bloomer she was. Alternatively, it's to illustrate that she's older because she looks taller than the others.


Discussions:

New Media
  • The author's note of the Animaton World Network article, Dr. Toon: Showing Their Age talks about what Wally Gator's physical age would probably be.
    Author's note: As to the probable age of Wally Gator, I offer the following formulations: In terms of developmental progression, anyone above the age of 12 is said to be in Jean Piaget's Formal Operational stage, defined by the ability to think in the abstract. Wally has a defined idea of the difference between freedom and captivity. Erik Erickson would likely place Wally in the Intimacy vs. Isolation stage; Wally yearns for the intimacy of societal contact, not the isolation of the zoo. This stage is typified by young adulthood. A biological examination reveals the average lifespan of the male American alligator to be roughly 40 years in the wild. The average lifespan of the human male is 76 years. Thus, one alligator year is equal to about two human years. It is probable that Wally Gator at least 12 in alligator years, since he evidences abstract thought. This makes Wally at least 24 in human years. This age demographic would fit neatly into the Ericksonian stage of Intimacy vs. Isolation. In watching Wally Gator, who does appear to be in his younger years, we can assume that Wally Gator's chronological age is 12 at the least and 14 at the most. I hope you know that I stayed up all night working on this, since I never seem to get much sleep anyway.


Community Feedback Replies: 58
  • January 14, 2012
    TonyG
    The description is very vague at this point. Do you mean that animals have lifespans similar to humans, or are we also talking about the aging process (i.e., gray hair, wrinkles, liver spots, and so on)?
  • January 14, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    I think this trope is about animals having lifespans like humans, but this trope can also talk about animals having aging process like humans.
  • January 14, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In the 1944 Bugs Bunny cartoon "The Old Grey Hare" God sends Elmer Fudd to the Far Future year 2000. Elmer is an old man and he ends up chasing an old Bugs Bunny, who wears glasses, has a chin beard, and walks with a cane. Elmer shoots Bugs and during his Final Speech Bugs & Elmer have a Flashback to when they were both babies.
  • January 15, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    You can divide the trope into two categories,
    • Human-like Lifespan/Longevity
    • Human-like Aging Process
  • January 15, 2012
    Mozgwsloiku
    Done in MLP friendship is magic - ponies seem to live as long as humans. On the other hand, baby ponies seem to develop very quickly, like real horses. It actually makes sense - living long is somewhat connected to intelligence (its an evolutionary thing, being useful to your species and all that) while human babies being helpless come from humans walking upright (the narrow hips make childbirth a nightmare - the baby has to be born while the head can still fit through, long before it can do anything on its own).
  • January 19, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • January 25, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    You can also add
    • Human-like Developmental Process
  • January 31, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • February 1, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    Rufus the cat from The Rescuers has a grey moustache that indicates his old age.
  • February 1, 2012
    osias
    Isn't that just prosopopea?
  • February 1, 2012
    osias
    prosopopeia*
  • February 13, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    ^Whats prosopopeia?
  • February 13, 2012
    chicagomel
    The Other Wiki says it's when someone speaks to the audience as another person or object or whatever.
  • February 14, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    Jock the Scottish Terrier from Lady And The Tramp has a grey moustache and bushy grey eyebrows.
  • February 19, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    The lifespan part of this trope is averted with Brian Griffin the dog from Family Guy.
  • February 19, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    Needs A Better Description. Also, please note that not all animals age.
  • February 29, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • February 29, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    @miru: Can you please let me edit and revise this trope's description?
  • March 1, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?

  • March 1, 2012
    shimaspawn
    I don't think this is a trope, Edna. Might be best to just discard this one.
  • March 2, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    This looks more like Too Common For Examples. At least I see animals always aging like humans, but it's not always what nature looks like.
  • March 11, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    Could we please just aversions, notable examples, and subversions?
  • March 13, 2012
    StevenT
    In the Phineas And Ferb episode "Phineas and Ferb's Quantum Boogaloo" Candace travels 20 years into the future where Perry is still alive, though old. In reality, platypodes only live for 10 years.
  • March 13, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    You can list straight examples for human like aging and development processes though.
  • March 14, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    @miru: Can I please revise your trope description?
  • March 18, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • March 22, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    Many coming of age Disney movies that feature Nearly Normal Animals, like Bambi, The Lion King, Lady And The Tramp avert this by showing the animals develop and age like their real counterparts.
  • March 22, 2012
    wanderlustwarrior
    Could you actually organize this so we can see what it is easily? Is it something like physical slowing and memory loss, or greying balding hair and sagging Non Mammal Mammaries, or what? Without this even being chat clear in the original description, it's not really deserving of a hat.
  • April 13, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • April 13, 2012
    zarpaulus
    • In the Redwall series most animals seem to use "seasons" as a substitute for years, Tagg for example is stated to be an adult at 16 seasons.
  • May 12, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • June 18, 2012
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • June 19, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    Needs More Examples, and I'd discard the "types" in the description.
  • June 19, 2012
    chicagomel
    Averted in Warrior Cats-they age just like real cats, with the exception of clan leaders having 9 lives. I think they use "seasons" too...I know for kittens, it's "moons".

    Anyone remember if this ever came up in Animorphs? I can't recall if it was mentioned for Tobias or David (the two stuck in animal form) or not.
  • June 20, 2012
    Aquila89
    Originally averted by Garfield, who mentions on his second birthday that the human equivalent of fourteen, and complains about aging ever since he turned four. Later played straight, as he's still relatively healthy and active over 30, though the average lifespan of a housecat is 12-14 years.
  • September 1, 2012
    Rognik
    ^The above example should read as "12-14 years at most". You have it as "at least", implying cats will live to be at least 12 through old age.
  • September 20, 2012
    Surenity
    It's enforced in the case of The Secret Of NIMH, where the rats and mice who were experimented on at NIMH were given long lifespans. It's mentioned that Johnathan Brisby would have far outlived his wife, a simple field mouse, had he not been killed by a cat first.
  • October 23, 2012
    shimaspawn
    <Mod Hat>

    You can not list all Aversions, Subversions and straight examples. If you do so you end up listing ever example of animals in fiction. Drop the aversions. They aren't notable or tropable.
  • October 31, 2012
    McKathlin
    Does this trope cover cases of baby animals inaccurately given body proportions like those of human babies? For example, real-life calves have long legs, so that they can stand shortly after birth and reach to suckle. But Minecraft and Back At The Barnyard feature baby cows with large heads and stubby legs.
  • November 5, 2012
    beltorak
    I think the key word should be "anthropomorphic"; although I cannot think of any specific examples, I seem to remember some inanimate objects in children's fantasies exhibiting this, something like an old tree with a beard and glasses.
  • November 5, 2012
    CarrieVS
    Redwall seems to be listed as an aversion because they say seasons instead of years. But they seem to equate one season to one year, and that's still far too slow - in the example that's given of Tagg, to be realistic he would have had to have been an adult by around 13 months, or just over four seasons, and the mice ought to be fully grown in well under one season.
  • November 26, 2012
    zarpaulus
    Redwall is a bit of an odd case.
  • November 27, 2012
    StarSword
    @chicagomel: It came up briefly in the last book. I'll put the example together.

    Longevity: Literature:
    • Mentioned but not elaborated upon in The Beginning, the last book of the Animorphs series. Tobias, a human trapped in morph as a red-tailed hawk, briefly mentions that he's old for a red-tail, but he has absolutely no idea how much time he has left.

    Re: cats. Depending on the cat they can live quite a bit longer. My tuxedo cat is 16 and still quite active (though slightly senile, we think), and I read about a tabby that was still alive and kicking at the ripe old age of 28.
  • January 7, 2013
    immortalfrieza
    @Star Sword Actually, while there are unconfirmed reports of cats living longer, the oldest cat ever recorded was 36, who died a few weeks later.
  • January 12, 2013
    halfstep
    This isn't mentioned, but strongly implied in Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers. In the pilot, when Gadget is added to the group, it's mostly because she is the daughter of a friend of one of the protagonists, and she is the only one who can fly his plane now that he is dead. It is mentioned that said friend and protagonist fought together in "The Great War", which seems to be an expy war for World War II. For any of this part of the pilot to work, either a) Gadget was born about a decade or so after the real actual WWII, making her actually anywhere from 20-30 something at the time of the pilot; b) The Great War isn't an expy for WWII, but a more recent conflict such as Vietnam, and Gadget is actually 12, and demonstrating a "puberty = adulthood" trope; c) Gadget and every other animal is aging just like they should, The Great War happened in the past 3 or 4 years/is not an expy for any human war/is an expy for a covert black ops action; d) It's not the late 80's in the show. As all the visual evidence, parody, and inferences point to a) (right down to the plane they fly), and in the show, it's clearly the late 80's, this trope has to be in play.
  • March 7, 2013
    thewriter
    Justified in Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban in regards to Scabbers, Ron's pet rat that had been alive for at least 12 years and had belonged to Ron's older brother before him. Ron is told by a magical pet shop owner that a plain country rat such as Scabbers generally doesn't live more than a few years, but of course it's revealed that Scabbers is really Peter Pettigrew, a traitor and presumed dead wizard in disguise.
  • March 16, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    Western Animation
    • The Tom And Jerry cartoon "The Missing Mouse" has Jerry Mouse pose as an escaped lab mouse filled with a volatile explosive. Jerry's ruse dissolves, however, and Jerry gets booted out of the house. Tom soon captures another mouse, thinking Jerry is repeating the trick. When Jerry shows himself elsewhere, though, Tom realizes that he's abusing the explosive mouse. This realization ages Tom dramatically: white eyebrows, white ear-hairs, baggy skin, collapsed posture. He looks like a centenarian.

    Need a pic for this? [1]

    [Fixed the image link that was breaking the post, oneuglybunny - @Septimus Heap]
  • March 19, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    ^ Thanks muchly for that, Septimus Heap. I'm carrying a lot of HTML baggage from other sites in my head, so pardon an old man for fumbling the parameters.
  • March 20, 2013
    willthiswork
    I am sort of thinking some of these subversions and lampshades could be their own trope. The Pinky and the Brain one is like a stock joke where an animal that is otherwise treated like a human by the story reminds the audience that they are still an animal unexpectedly to get a laugh.
  • May 5, 2013
    Korodzik
    Fan Fiction

  • June 23, 2013
    Korodzik
    Just a note--I've rewritten my example above to make it flow better, can you replace it? (and probably Just Launch It Already if you're satisfied)
  • June 29, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    Replaced instances of "ageing" to "aging" for consistency with the title.
  • June 29, 2013
    GuyIncog
    Film

    • While he certainly has a far longer than human lifespan, some of the clues to Yoda's advanced age include wisps of gray hair and the fact that he is almost always seen either walking with a cane or in a scifi version of a wheelchair.
  • July 17, 2013
    DAN004
    Anime And Manga
    • In One Piece, the Fishmen ages not unlike humans. Evidenced in Hody Jones and his New Fishman Pirates, who, after a steroid-induced Rapid Aging, are shown with wrinkles, saggy eyesockets, gray beards and teeth loss.

    Film
  • August 1, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    I don't think the One Piece example really fits this... the Fishmen are not really animals, not even antropomorphized ones, but half human, half fish hybrids.
  • August 1, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ They're Fish People and not a hybrid. (in fact, due to Fantastic Racism they can't marry a human.)
  • August 1, 2013
    DaibhidC
    If Garfield's 30, then Jon's what, in his fifties? I think the relevant point is that the characters in Garfield, like most comic strips, just don't age. (If we take Garfield's comments about the length of time since the strip started being his age literally, he was never a kitten.)
  • August 1, 2013
    DAN004
    Launch plz.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=nmue1fvfvuow0d44u6ra4leb&trope=HumanlikeAnimalAging