Elderly Immortal YKTTW Discussion

Elderly Immortal
(permanent link) added: 2010-04-10 07:39:01 sponsor: FrodoGoofballCoTV (last reply: 2010-04-10 07:39:01)

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Launched as Elderly Immortal.
A spinoff from this discussion.

Do We Have This? / Should We Have This?? Needs a Better Description / Needs a Better Title. Rolling Updates underway. Up for Grabs.

In fiction, immortality is a crapshoot. In universes where it exists, many, but not all, mortals lust after immortality, sometimes with unfortunate consequenses; for those that have it, it can be a wonderful thing, or a Fate Worse Than Death.

This is the trope that we forgot. An immortal character who keeps his or her health, but not youth. This character is forever stuck at the apparent age when most mortals finally succomb to the ravages of old age.

Differs from Age Without Youth in that while both have grey hair, the Age Without Youth character is at risk from becoming a literal living corpse, this character is a healthy, "active senior", and is usually still at least somewhat attractive.

To be this trope a character must:
  • Appear to be at least in their 60's if not older; this generally means wrinkled skin, either very sparse or grey hair, etc.
  • Have an actual age well beyond the normal human lifespan.

Usually, the character also will:
  • Either be bald, bald with patches of long hair, or have a very thick full head of completely grey hair.
  • If male, have either almost no body hair or else an impressive, full beard.
  • Be extremely wise, sometimes to the point of taking Genre Savvy Up to Eleven.
  • Have at least one other superhuman ability, with being a Badass Grandpa or Reality Warper being the most common.

These characters usually have one of the following body types:

Type A: "The Greek God"; A Heroic Build that would be more appropriate on a character 1/2 to 1/4 their apparent age, lots of hair, super strength.

Type B: "The Jolly Old Elf"; relatively short, heavyset with a waistline greater than their height, huge beard if male.

  • Santa Claus, in most modern depictions.
  • In traditional fantasy, dwarves are often portrayed this way.
  • The traditional "lawn gnome", as depicted here

Type C: "The Wizard"; A thin, frail, elderly, Squishy Wizard, usually wearing a Cool Hat. If male, will almost invariably have a slender beard that reaches nearly to their feet.

  • Gandalf from Lord of the Rings.
  • Many depictions of Merlin from King Arthur.
  • Flemeth in Dragon Age seems to this. At least, until you find out she's a body-snatcher.
  • Belgarath the Sorcerer from David Eddings' Belgariad is a definite Type C - as are most of his colleagues, particularly Beldin. It is eventually lampshaded when someone points out that while THEY turned into immortal old men, Belgarath's daughter, Polgara the Sorceress, apparently stopped aging somewhere in her late 20's - turns out it's a self-image thing: The male sorcerers let themselves grow old so they'll appear wise and respectable, while the females stop aging early so they won't turn into 'hags'.
  • Lorien from Babylon 5.
  • Enoch the Red from Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle. Parts of Cryptonomicon described him as looking anywhere from his fifties to his eighties (but most likely sixties or seventies), and he's been described as appearing of "indeterminate age" in The Baroque Cycle (but with attention paid to his silver hair and his weathered, marred skin, both characteristics of an old man). He certainly has the long beard, and he acts like a Tolkenian wizard, but I don't recall him described as frail or skinny.
  • The Guardians of Green Lantern have aged, after a fashion. The survivors are billions of years old.

Type D: small and frail, little if any hair.

  • "God" (George Burns) from Oh, God
  • General Immortus, long-time foe of the Doom Patrol. Precisely how he came into possession of an immortality serum is not discussed, but it appears that he was already quite elderly when he first used it. In the first stories he's in, Immortus is bald, stooped and very, very wrinkled, like one of those shrunken apple dolls.

Type E: "The Elderly Child"; has a mix of childlike and elderly characteristics, such as grey hair and a baby's face.


  • The immortals of Highlander don't stop aging until after their first death (the cause of which can be anything but old age). Thus, some immortals look twenty, some look forty, and some look sixty. There was at least one immortal from the TV series who looked to be in his seventies.
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