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Feeling Their Age
An older hero is starting to feel their age.
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(permanent link) added: 2012-09-09 22:13:50 sponsor: KJMackley edited by: Koveras (last reply: 2014-11-05 04:50:28)

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Ross: (regarding an old plane) "That thing belongs in a museum."
Trench: "We all do."

No matter how hard you train, how much effort you take to keep yourself in the best possible shape, there comes a time when the effects of aging will reduce how physically powerful you are and how quickly you are able to bounce back from injuries. This can and often does become a soft spot for the individual, probably starting from their First Gray Hair. It's a reminder that they are not invincible.

It is typically used with any Badass Grandpa character, if they are awesome now you should have seen them 30 years ago. And they may try to hide the effects from the people around them.

Old Superhero is a subtrope specific to the Super Hero comics genre. Compare Dented Iron, Heroic Fatigue, and Jaded Washout.

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • A major character point in YuYu Hakusho with regards to the Big Bad Younger Toguro. He used to be human but was so afraid of getting older he sold his soul to become virtually immortal (he later saw immortality to be boring and so sought for a fighter strong enough to kill him). And this is compared to Genkai, a formidable fighter despite her years but still far from what she was at her prime.
  • Whitebeard from One Piece is renowned as The Strongest Man in the World prior to his death. He is an extremely Badass Grandpa with a ridiculously earthquake based Devil Fruit powers who has proved more than enough that he is worthy of his title in the Marineford arc. However the moment he starts coughing up blood in the middle of battle, it's made clear that the man is no longer in his prime and that old age hasn't been kind to him. Based on his remaining strength though, it's less that he's significantly weaker, and more like that the monstrously strong old man was even more of a monster in the past. He even once stated "I may be a monster... but I'm not gonna be the strongest forever!"

Comic Books
  • In Before Watchmen: Minutemen, Hollis Mason starts to feel this way in the 1950s, having endured the murder of his close friend Silhouette, a HUAC investigation, and the "Friend of the Children" investigation, which resulted in Nite Owl killing Hooded Justice after being led to believe that he'd been kidnapping and murdering kids. After Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandias start appearing, he decides that he's really not needed anymore.
  • Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns portrays Batman like this. He starts as a Retired Badass, but soon returns to crime-fighting. Throughout the story Batman keeps on lamenting how slow he's become, culminating in the fight between him and the leader of a mutant gang, who is, like Batman himself states, "in his physical prime". Batman loses, but only because he "tried to fight like a young man". Later he beats the mutant leader with some Combat Pragmatist moves.

Film
  • Lethal Weapon series. Murtaugh's Catch Phrase was "I'm getting too old for this", appropriate for an older family man who had to deal with a wild card younger partner in Riggs. Nevertheless he continued to say it through all the movies and it eventually came around to Riggs in 4, as he started to feel his age too.
  • Brought up in The Expendables 2, with the addition of a mid-20's team member Billy who has more enthusiasm and energy than the rest of the team combined. His older teammates are certainly not in bad shape themselves, but there is a distinct difference in their lumbering pace compared to Billy jogging up a hill.
  • Explicitly brought up in The Last Stand starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a sheriff of a small town having to deal with a dangerous group of outlaws heading his way. He's getting up in age and knows it, and the trailer highlights it.

Live-Action TV
  • It's a major part of Sam Axe's character in Burn Notice, highlighted in the prequel movie Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe. He is no less reliable but in comparison to the main character and much younger Michael Westen, Sam is noticeably wearier and has gained a few pounds since his prime.
  • The idea is name checked in How I Met Your Mother, actually called "The Murtaugh List." Ted puts together a list of things you can't do once you pass a certain age. Barney takes it as a challenge and ends up injuring himself. Ted is meanwhile challenged to do things he is too young to start doing, such as going to bed at 8:30. When he can't go to sleep that early he marathons the Lethal Weapon movies and realized that Murtaugh never let his age stop him, so he shouldn't either.
  • Scrubs
    • Dr. Cox was approaching middle aged in the early seasons, which came to a head when he threw out his back making a (successful) slam dunk to show up Turk. He later confessed to Carla that having a very young son at his age he was worried he was always going to be seen as an old man to his kids.
    • In the ninth season Dr. Kelso reached an older version of this, where he had to jump through some legal and medical hoops to keep his drivers license. He confessed to a med student that he hoped to never reach that point where he couldn't take care of himself like that.

Video Games
  • Lampshaded in Assassin's Creed: Revelations, where a much older Ezio Auditore from the previous two games nearly dies in the opening mission because his reactions are dulled with age and laments that "this used to be so easy".

Western Animation
  • The ultimate reason Bruce Wayne retired as Batman in Batman Beyond. His last battle against generic thugs almost cost him his life after suffering a stroke mid-way, forcing him to pull a gun on his attacker. His frustrations over his age form the primary dramatic thrust in "Out of the Past" when offered age reversal from Talia using the Lazarus pits. This makes for a memorable action scene that puts Bruce in proper fighting condition alongside Terry against a group of League of Shadow enemies.
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