Created By: Ghilz on January 10, 2011 Last Edited By: Ghilz on January 14, 2011
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Elder Is Better

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Do We Have This One?? Needs a Better Title.

Launching Today

That's why you should not buy dragons for your kids. They start off cute, but they never stop growing!
"I kill where I wish and none dare resist. I laid low the warriors of old and their like is not in the world today. Then I was but young and tender. Now I am old and strong, strong, strong, Thief in the Shadows!"
-Smaug, the dragon, The Hobbit

Everyone knows a child is more durable than a newborn, and that an adult is tougher then a kid. However, for some creatures this keeps going with age. They never grow decrepit. Arthritis never settles in. They keep growing stronger, faster and more resilient with each passing year. What is to note is that the older creatures are not simply more powerful due to having more experience: they are literally tougher than any younger specimen of the same breed.

Vampires and dragons are two of the most common species to exhibit this. Ancient dragons and elder vampires are beings of terrible power. This can cause a bit of Fridge Logic if the creature is stated not to be immortal: if dragons become more resilient as they age, then just how do they die of old age?

A subtrope of Older Is Better. See also Monster Lords, who are often older members of their species, and contrast Evil Makes You Monstrous (for the latter, they get eviler with age and thus get uglier and stronger). For the human equivalent, see the Old Master and Badass Grandpa.

Related to this YKTTW for Monster Progenitor

Examples:

  • Dungeons & Dragons has this happen to many creatures. Vampires, Dragons, Liches and others tend to grow more powerful as they age. So much that in 3rd edition, a new age category of "Ancient" was added to Dragons in a supplemental book, surpassing the former maximum age of "Great Wyrm". Pictured above are red dragons. For the record, the second largest one is an "adult". The top one is an ancient.
  • Fallout 3 Super Mutants grow stronger with age. Super Mutant Masters are younger and weaker than Overlords, who are weaker than Behemoths, who are the oldest. Not that this particular trait is not (explicitly) shared with their west coat counterpart.
  • In the Munchkin Card Game, "Ancient" is a +10 monster buff.
  • Dragons in Tolkien's writings do this. Smaug provides the page quote.
  • The Maestro, the future version of the Hulk, who is stronger and smarter than present day Hulk (even when PDH is in smart mode).
  • Truth in Television: Gustave the Crocodile is over 66 years old, believed to be over 20 feet long and 2,000 pounds heavy, and is still killing people up till today.
  • Similar to D&D, dragons in Dragon Age only get more powerful with age.
  • The undead in The Dresden Files universe grow stronger the older the remains that went into their reanimation are. This culminates with Harry using a Tyrannosaurus' skeleton to turn into a zombie.
    • The Dresden Files also plays with this trope concerning Black Court Vampires. On the one hand, it is noted that since Mavra is such an old vampire she is likely to be mobile and capable of defending herself during the day where younger vamps would be forced to sleep. But then they toy with it by pointing out that the reason Black Court vamps in general are such major Badass types is because of basic survival of the fittest since Dracula was published. To get to be that old, they have to have been Badass to begin with, or they'd have been killed (again) years ago.
  • Some of the monsters in darkSector are stated as getting larger and stronger with age. Just before a boss fight, an ally warns you, "This one is very old!"
  • In an early episode of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Joey/Jonouchi defeats an opponent by allowing his Baby Dragon to age a millenium into the much-more-powerful Thousand Dragon.
  • In Kingdom Come Superman is said to be undergoing this. After so many years under earth's yellow sun, he's stronger than ever, and immune to kryptonite.
  • Vampires in The Elder Scrolls grow more powerful as they age. Vampire Ancients are the oldest and strongest.
  • In Japanese folk thought, foxes (Kitsune) grow a new tail for every hundred years they live, with a proportional growth in power, to a maximum of nine.
  • Dragons in The Inheritance Cycle never stop growing, some were as big as mountains.
  • Vampires work this way on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When Spike is first introduced Giles initially dismisses him as a big threat when he discovers Spike is scarcely over 100 years old (shortly after he discovers Spike's full history and reconsiders). Kakistos was noted as being an extremely old vampire and thus a bigger threat. His age meant he had lost most traces of a human appearance and a standard size stake wouldn't do the job, so Faith had to use a two-by-four to finish him.
  • The basilisk from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is apparently still in top form at the age of one thousand. And if the shed skins are any sign... She's still growing too.
  • The Asari in Mass Effect are said to show this, at least with regards to their biotics, who grow in power as they reach the matriarch part of their life cycle.
  • In the Dark Eldar codex in Warhammer 40,000 Haemonculus Ancients have better thats than regular Haemonculi. They have the same strenght and toughness but more wounds and attacks.
Community Feedback Replies: 49
  • January 10, 2011
    Prophet
    I think I saw this YKTTW before.
  • January 10, 2011
    Earnest
    See also Monster Lord and Evil Makes You Monstrous (for the latter, they get eviler with age and thus get uglier and stronger).
  • January 11, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    In Munchkin Card Game, "Ancient" is a +10 monster buff.
  • January 11, 2011
    Speedball
    Explicitly by the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit. Paraphrased, he says, "Once I was young and tender. But now I am old and I am strong, strong, strong!"
  • January 11, 2011
    randomsurfer
    The Maestro, the future version of the Hulk, who is stronger and smarter than present day Hulk (even when PDH is in smart mode).
  • January 11, 2011
    TheNumber
    Truth In Television: Gustave the Crocodile is over 66 years old, believed to be over 20 feet long and 2,000 pounds heavy, and is still killing people up till today.
  • January 11, 2011
    Koveras
    Compare Older Is Better for the equipment version.

    • Similar to D&D, dragons in Dragon Age only get more powerful with age.
    • The undead in The Dresden Files universe grow stronger the older the remains that went into their reanimation are.
  • January 11, 2011
    Speedball
    Some of the monsters in Dark Sector are stated as getting larger and stronger with age. Just before a boss fight, an ally warns you, "This one is very old!"
  • January 11, 2011
    ZombieAladdin
    Anime/Manga: In an early episode of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Joey/Jonouchi defeats an opponent by allowing his Baby Dragon to age a millenium into the much-more-powerful Thousand Dragon.
  • January 12, 2011
    Stratadrake
    For the human equivalent, we have the Old Master and Badass Grandpa.
  • January 12, 2011
    FoolsEditAccount
    I fixed a few typos and un-capitalized a few things that shouldn't be capitalized. Hope that's okay with you.

    I support this trope and hope that it gets launched eventually, though I don't have any specific examples, I'm afraid.
  • January 12, 2011
    Ghilz
    Sure that's fine :)
  • January 12, 2011
    SweetMadness
    Would Pokemon count? Technically, it's leveling up rather than aging, but the later evolutions a pokemon assumes are almost always more powerful than its previous forms. Plus, there's also the fact that pokemon you've trained up from the beginning are more powerful than wild ones at the same level.
  • January 12, 2011
    Ghilz
    Probably not - at least not in that way, as this explicitly refer to training. A pokemon you never train does not get stronger by merely aging. That being said, if the anime has examples of really old members of a pokemon species being stronger than most of the others, then this would qualify.
  • January 12, 2011
    Stratadrake
    The point of this trope seems more about monsters not becoming frail in their old age. The page image doesn't quite illustrate that, as it simply communicates something that continues growing larger and larger as it ages.
  • January 12, 2011
    Ghilz
    Best I could find. Open to new ideas. Technically the image qualifies though, the 2nd largest image is an adult dragon. The biggest is a Great Wyrm / Ancient. And the trope covers both. Creatures that do the opposite than growing frail: They grow stronger. Something that merely doesn't go frail is just plain immortal.
  • January 12, 2011
    Ghilz
    Could we get more specific examples for the fish example?

    As for the suggestions of titles. I like it more than the current :)
  • January 12, 2011
    FoolsEditAccount
    Possible title recommendation: "Linear Aging Improvement"? The wording sounds kind of awkward though, hm...
  • January 12, 2011
    FoolsEditAccount
    What about simply "Linear Aging"?

    More ideas: "Monsters Have Infinite Telomeres", "No Frailness For Monsters"

    It is surprisingly difficult to sum up "Monsters become stronger, not frailer, with age" in less than five words. :/
  • January 12, 2011
    Ghilz
    I like Linear Aging less because, well, unless you time travel, Aging always is linear. The 2nd sounds too much like Word Cruft, and the third is too generic. Linear Aging Improvement is the best so far.
  • January 12, 2011
    FoolsEditAccount
    Linear Aging Improvement sounds the most Word Cruft-y in my opinion. Like I said, the wording sounds too awkward. What's wrong with "Monsters Have Infinite Telomeres"? It's not too long, and adequately describes the fact that monsters continually get stronger instead of frailer.
  • January 12, 2011
    Stratadrake
    ^ Telomeres is a rather obscure technical term.

    Elder Is Better?
  • January 12, 2011
    troacctid
    The image looks more like a family tree than the same dragon growing.
  • January 12, 2011
    FoolsEditAccount
    @ Stratadrake: I...see. Sorry. I am seconding "Elder Is Better".
  • January 12, 2011
    Ghilz
    That works too, and echoes Older Is Better.
  • January 12, 2011
    fringeman
    • The Reapers in Mass Effect as they absorb new technology and species every 50,000 years. They are implied to have been around for millions of years
  • January 12, 2011
    Ghilz
    Not sure if the reapers qualify though. Though their species grow (with them making new reapers) do existing individual reapers get upgraded?
  • January 12, 2011
    melloncollie
    Dragons in The Inheritance Cycle never stop growing, some were as big as mountains.

    I like Linear Aging Improvement.
  • January 12, 2011
    FoolsEditAccount
    More ideas: "Linear Improvement Aging", "Linear Growth Aging"
  • January 12, 2011
    Speedball
  • January 12, 2011
    PaleHorse87
    • The Dresden Files also plays with this trope concerning Black Court Vampires. On the one hand, it is noted that since Mavra is such an old vampire she is likely to be mobile and capable of defending herself during the day where younger vamps would be forced to sleep. But then they toy with it by pointing out that the reason Black Court vamps in general are such major Badass types is because of basic survival of the fittest since Dracula was published. To get to be that old, they have to have been Badass to begin with, or they'd have been killed (again) years ago.
  • January 12, 2011
    PaleHorse87
    • Vampires work this way on Buffy The Vampire Slayer. When Spike is first introduced Giles initially dismisses him as a big threat when he discovers Spike is scarcely over 100 years old (shortly after he discovers Spike's full history and reconsiders). Kakistos was noted as being an extremely old vampire and thus a bigger threat. His age meant he had lost most traces of a human appearance and a standard size stake wouldn't do the job, so Faith had to use a two-by-four to finish him.
  • January 13, 2011
    Koveras
    ^^That may have to do with the law that the older the remains, the more powerful the undead, since the Black Court are the only vampires who are actually undead bloodsuckers.
  • January 13, 2011
    Hello999
    The basilisk from Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets is apparently still in top form at the age of one thousand.
  • January 13, 2011
    Arivne
  • January 13, 2011
    FoolsEditAccount
    I like "Better With Age". "Elder Is Better" could work too, though.

    Which title are you picking, Ghilz?
  • January 13, 2011
    Ghilz
  • January 13, 2011
    FoolsEditAccount
    I think this is ready for launching now.
  • January 14, 2011
    bbofun
  • January 14, 2011
    troacctid
    Maybe Ages Well.

    Agree that this can be launched once we decide on a title.
  • January 14, 2011
    Ghilz
    Will see about launching it tonite if I got time.

    Better With Age is punny, but I am worried it could lead to misuse (someone potholing to wines and cheese. Or simply potholing it where experience is the sole reason someone gets better with age - ie like an Old Master)

    Bigger With Age? Stronger With Age?
  • January 14, 2011
    FoolsEditAccount
    Bigger/Stronger With Age is too literal, I think. I'm behind "Elder Is Better" for now.
  • January 14, 2011
    Philistein
    I wondered about Better With Age or Aged To Perfection or similar but yeah, as stated I could see there being confusion regardng maturing cheese or distillation or... whatever. Elder is Better sounds fine.
  • January 14, 2011
    ssfsx17
    Elder Is Better
  • January 14, 2011
    Ghilz
    Madrugada came up with Old Does Not Mean Frail or The Older The Stronger?

    I do like the second
  • January 14, 2011
    MorganWick
    Some people might look at Elder Is Better and Older Is Better on the same index and wonder "What's the difference?"
  • January 14, 2011
    Generality
    Stronger With Age is probably the best combination of aptness and brevity, even if it's not particularly clever.
  • January 14, 2011
    Nomic
    In the Dark Eldar codex in Warhammer40000 Haemonculus Ancients have better thats than regular Haemonculi. They have th same strenght and toughness but more wounds and attacks.
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