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->''"The best years of my life are gone. ...[[TheChewToy And they sucked]]."''
-->-- '''C.C. Babcock''', ''Series/TheNanny''

The term "mid-life crisis" was first coined by psychoanalyst Elliott Jacques in 1965 to describe a period of major self-doubt felt by some individuals of middle age as the result of the passing of their youth. Symptoms may include depression, feelings of remorse and searching for some undefined dream or goal. It can affect both sexes, although not all psychologists accept it even exists and it doesn't seem to be present in all cultures. Also, even in cultures where such a thing ''does'' tend to exist, it usually only affects about 10% of middle aged adults. It has also been theorized that a mid-life crisis may be triggered by a man's wife approaching menopause age, as the mid-life crisis does not happen with men who are married to women significantly younger than themselves.

In fiction, by contrast, a mid-life crisis tends to consist of several pieces of behavior carried out by middle-aged men in a rash attempt to recapture lost youth (it being limited to men is probably because MostWritersAreMale):

* The purchase of a MidlifeCrisisCar - souped-up, expensive and flashy.
* The romantic pursuit of a [[MayDecemberRomance much]] [[TheMistress younger]] [[TrophyWife lover]]. Depending on the nature of the work, either hilarity or drama will ensue, and the "younger women" (or men) in the fictional version have often been played by performers famed for their beauty.
* Adopting [[TotallyRadical inappropriately youthful]] [[AgeInappropriateDress hairstyle or clothes]]. If he has children, this is guaranteed to [[AmazinglyEmbarrassingParents embarrass them]] (though they may well approve of the CoolCar).
* Adopt new religious or spiritual beliefs.

As can be seen from the examples, some works have a mid-life crisis as the main engine of their plot; in others, such as soap operas, StatusQuoIsGod, and so [[CompressedVice after an episode or two of his crisis, the man will basically go back to normal and behave as if nothing ever happened]].


[[folder: Film ]]

* ''Film/AmericanBeauty'' is one of the most famous movie examples. A stressed-out drone with an unhappy marriage quits his job (with large pay-off), buys an expensive car and lusts after a teenage girl.
* You have to feel sorry for Richard Sherman in ''Film/TheSevenYearItch''. His wife's away. He's stuck at home editing a book about the mid-life crisis and marital dissatisfaction at the seven year mark. And Creator/MarilynMonroe has moved in upstairs...
* ''Film/LostInTranslation''. An aging actor at a loose end in Tokyo gets involved with a much younger woman, including an attempt to dress to fit in with her friends. Upon meeting him, she even asks if he's bought a Porsche yet. He replies that he's considering it.
* After hearing that he's about to become a grandfather in the second ''Film/{{Father of the Bride| 1991}}'' film, George Banks buys a fancy car and dyes his gray hair dark.
* ''Film/CitySlickers'' is about three friends who are each going through their own respective mid-life crisis. Mitch is bored with his job and frightened by how quickly the years seem to be flying by. Phil's SexlessMarriage prompts him to have an affair with a younger coworker, resulting in him losing his job and his wife leaving him. Ed is a successful businessman and womanizer who is frightened by the prospect of settling down and starting a family. The three friends go on a cattle drive vacation, during which they all begin to figure out their lives.
* Part of the reason for the hero's odd behavior in ''WesternAnimation/TheIncredibles'', but his story is also a Civilian Life Crisis, because his day-to-day life is now so drab and boring compared to the glamorous and exciting life he had as a superhero.
-->'''Edna Mode:''' Men at Robert's age are often unstable. Prone to weakness...
** When it turns out [[spoiler: he's taken up superheroing again]]. His wife is actually ''relieved'' because he wasn't having an affair as she'd feared.
* ''The Oranges'' has David (played by Creator/HughLaurie) going through one of sorts; he has an affair with the daughter of his neighbor (and best friend), who is approximately the same age as his own daughter and is kinda-sorta dating ''his son'' (their moms are trying to set them up together; the son is okay with this as she's pretty hot, she's less okay with it as the son is, while handsome enough, pretty dull). When her mother finds out, the fallout prompts all four of the two older couples to go through one.
* Santa Claus goes through one in ''[[Film/SantaBaby Santa Baby 2]]''. He even joins a touring band!
* James T. Kirk in most of the ''Franchise/StarTrek'' movies suffers from a bad case. Starting with ''Film/StarTrekTheMotionPicture'', in which he struggles with the question of whether he is too young to be an Admiral or too old to be [[TheCaptain a Captain]]. This leads him to take back command of the ''Enterprise'' as soon as a major threat to Earth is spotted, shamelessly ousting its current (younger) Captain. Subsequent films would have him agonizing, sometimes to the point of {{Wangst}} over his age, career, life in general and missed opportunities. Notably, he is the only character who seems to suffer from this.
** ''Film/StarTrekGenerations'' tries to revisit this with Picard, being the last to carry his family name, and once agin with Kirk, who wants to stay in the Nexus with an old love interest we'd never seen before.
* ''WesternAnimation/FantasticMrFox'': Mr. Fox, a former thief, feels inadequate after becoming seven-and-a-half in human years, due to having to give up his exciting capers after settling down with his wife and son. He feels that the domestic life is keeping from satisfying his "wild" side, being an animal and all. It starts with buying a new house, then to sneaking out at night to raid from farms, and escalates from there.
* ''Film/TheWomanInRed'': Teddy


[[folder: Literature ]]

* In ''Rabbit Is Rich'', a novel in John Updike's Rabbit series, Rabbit Angstrom has become rich, middle-aged and dissatisfied, which includes him becoming enamoured of a friend's younger wife.
* Literature/ErastFandorin goes through this before and during ''Literature/AllTheWorldsAStage'' (when he is 55). He tries to take the thoughtful approach (resolving to learn a new form of art or a new language every year), but he also ends up falling in love with a much younger woman.
* In the ''Literature/JeevesAndWooster'' story "Indian Summer of an Uncle", Bertie's Uncle George tries to initiate a MayDecemberRomance. Jeeves diagnoses the problem as an "Indian summer" and notes that it's common for elderly, wealthy Americans to run off with chorus-girls.
* Mentioned in, of all places, ''Literature/JudgeDee'', when the judge suspects this may be the explanation for a middle-aged man's conduct, explaining that such men have a moment in their lives where they end up harming what they'd spent their lives building up, then snap out of it and laugh it off.


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* Hank Moody in ''Series/{{Californication}}'' is pretty much the poster boy for this trope. He has been a talented and acclaimed writer since his early life, but he often suffers from WritersBlock and his happy family life went to toilet. He sleeps around a lot and tries to reconnect with the love of his life and his daughter.
* Tony [=DiNozzo=] from ''Series/{{NCIS}}'' has been seen going through one.
* ''Series/DoctorWho''
** The story "Pyramids of Mars" starts off with the Doctor striking poses in a flashy new outfit and sulking about how he's reached the big 7-5-0 and, as a trained Time Lord better than this, is going to quit his stupid job. He also makes a point of reminiscing about his gorgeous past female companions in a ContinuityNod peculiar at this time. Sarah teases him by saying he's "almost middle-aged", and he snaps back "''Yes!''". Midlife crisis issues become a little theme for his character from this story onward - It's worth noticing that these issues are introduced in an incarnation played by an actor who was, at the time, the youngest man to take the part, which is apparently the Gallifreyan equivalent of dressing too young.
** The Sixth Doctor is often interpreted along these lines. After wearing beige and getting really interested in cricket in his Fifth incarnation, the Sixth Doctor goes back to wearing a [[ImpossiblyTackyClothes ghastly]] pastiche of the outfit and hair he wore in his Fourth incarnation, becomes suddenly rude and confrontational, starts insulting his female companion for not being attractive enough for him (despite her being drop-dead gorgeous by any reasonable standard) and even ''fixes the TARDIS's Chameleon Circuit'' to make it look cooler, causing it to become [[StealthPun a massive organ]].
** Sarah also lampshades the trope when they meet up again in the new series. "I can tell you're getting older, your assistants are getting younger."
** Martha's father was going through one, having traded both his car and his wife in for younger models when we first met him.
* ''Series/That70sShow'' had Red buy a midlife crisis motorcycle.
* ''Series/{{Girls}}'' has Jeff, the father of the children Jessa babysits. He dates the young and "free-spirited" Jessa with the hopes that he'll regain lost youth with her.
* Pretty much the entire premise of the BritCom ''{{Series/Manchild}}''.
* In the episode of ''Series/{{Friends}}'' when all the characters are shown turning thirty, all six consider it a major issue and turning point. Ross bought a red sports car, but his fun is spoilt (the car got stuck in a parking place and once it's freed, he sees a much older balding guy in the same car).
* ''WordOfGod'' has called Walter White's life of crime in ''Series/BreakingBad'' "the world's worst midlife crisis". There's obviously a lot more to it, first and foremost being his cancer diagnosis, but he ''does'' buy a fancy new car more than once, and at one point makes a laughably ineffectual pass at a younger woman.
* Kel Knight has one in ''Series/KathandKim''. On his 50th birthday, Kel gets a sports car, starts listening to music that's clearly aimed at teenage girls and dresses in whatever was considered trendy at any given point in time.
* In ''Series/{{Community}}'', Vice-Dean Laybourne's otherwise inexplicable decision to suddenly grow a ponytail and a goatee and join a jazz band was hinted to be something to do with this trope, given his sheepish insistence that he was "going through some stuff right now" whenever anyone alluded to it. [[RealitySubtext In reality]], it was because John Goodman was filming his scenes around his role in ''Film/{{Flight}}'' where the ponytail / goatee combo was required for the character and couldn't be shaved off, so the production team decided to just ThrowItIn.
* In ''Series/RedDwarf'', Kryten experiences one of these. Kryten is a service mechanoid who has existed for approximately three million years. Turns out his series is built to last six million years. As a result, Kryten starts wondering if he could have done more with his existence, and he later upgrades his chasis to a goofy-looking "sporty" model. If a mechanoid mid-life crisis isn't absurd enough, later in the episode [[spoiler: the crew discover that [[GeniusLoci the universe itself is sentient]] and Kryten accidentally gives ''it'' a mid-life crisis]].
* In ''Series/TheGoodPlace'', Michael goes through a parody of this, with a MidLifeCrisisCar, a tattoo ("It's Chinese for 'Japan'!") and having Janet, a holographic AI, pose as a vacuous TrophyWife for him. It's not and ''can't be'' the actual middle of his life, because he has CompleteImmortality, but he was having an existential crisis and Eleanor suggested this as a way to paper over it.


[[folder: Music ]]

* "Middle Age Crazy" by Music/JerryLeeLewis.
-->But today he's forty years old going on twenty\\
And he hears of sordid affairs\\
And he ain't had any\\
And the young thing beside him\\
He knows she understands\\
That he's middle aged crazy\\
Trying to prove he still can
* Music/FiveForFighting's AgeProgressionSong "100 Years" references mid-life crisis':
-->I'm 45 for a moment
-->The sea is high and I'm heading into a crisis
-->Chasing the years of my life


[[folder: Newspaper Comics ]]

* In one ''ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes'' Sunday comic, Calvin's dad thinks long and hard about how short life is, and how much time he spends working at a job that he doesn't like at all. He tells his wife that he's thinking of quitting his job and biking full-time. She replies by sarcastically asking if she should ask the bike shop if they'd be interested in sponsoring his mid-life crisis.
* Parodied twice in ''ComicStrip/FoxTrot'' where Andy and Roger each suffer one in different times. Roger gets over his when his wife gives him a ShutUpKiss and several more, while Andy finds out that acting young leads to her daughter asking for a belly piercing.


[[folder: Theatre ]]

* ''Theatre/MidlifeCrisisTheMusical'' has the pursuit of younger women, the purchase of fancy cars, the insistence that you can still "hang" on the basketball court, dealing with exaggerated menopause...


[[folder: Web Comics ]]

* Summer Winter's recent tattoos, bleach job, piercings, and [[spoiler: search for an actual romantic relationship (as opposed to her quarter-century-long string of casual hookups)]] in the latest run of ''Moon Over June'' is best described as this.
* In ''{{Webcomic/Sinfest}}'', [[http://www.sinfest.net/view.php?date=2009-05-11 Percy suffers an attack when shedding, because he thinks he's going bald.]]


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* Papa Smurf in ''WesternAnimation/TheSmurfs'' episode "Papa's Wedding Day" goes through his version of this when he keeps being reminded of how old he is by his little Smurfs. Sometime after he meets the young and beautiful Flowerbell the woodnymph, finding himself falling love with her, he dyes his beard a youthful shade of brown and has a dating relationship with Flowerbell that would have resulted in a marriage had not the Smurfs figured out that she was an infiltrator sent by the evil sorcerer Balthazar to capture the wisest Smurf of all. After the relationship had ended, Papa Smurf's beard goes back to being white, but he gains wisdom in knowing from the song that he sings to Flowerbell that "you're only as old as you think you are".
* Fathers in animated sitcoms often fulfill a lot of these requirements. Examples include [[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons Homer Simpson]], [[WesternAnimation/SouthPark Randy Marsh]], and [[WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy Peter Griffin]]. All three are depicted as immature, overactive and more wild than their kids.
** The A-Plot of "Lois Comes Out of Her Shell" in ''Family Guy'' focuses on Lois going through a mid-life crisis. She starts speaking in l33t and text message abbreviations, wears skimpy clothes, gets a lot raunchier with Peter, and culminates with her trying to have sex with Justin Bieber. As is expected in this kind of show and ''Family Guy'' in particular, Lois is back to her old self by the end of the episode.
* Played with in ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'' in an episode set in the future (which even has a song dedicated to the midlife crisis): Dr Doofenshmirz hasn't had a mid-life crisis and feels left out compared to other men, so he invents a device that ''induces'' a mid-life crisis in the wearer! He concludes that he prefers the boring middle-ager stuff so he takes it off. It lands on the titular characters' father Lawrence and causes him to do something crazy and reckless; switch out his Earl Grey for ''Darjeeling''!
-->'''Mrs.Flynn''': You're a mad man.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Babar}}'''s episode "Conga the Terrible" has Cornelius going through a crisis as all characters, except Babar, consider him to old for doing almost everything. Yet he proves that he's still pretty badass when he faces the eponymous giant ape Conga.
* Ed Bighead goes through one in the ''WesternAnimation/RockosModernLife'' episode "Fogey Froggy" after getting passed over for a promotion for being too old.
* Happens to Mr. Krabs in the ''WesternAnimation/SpongebobSquarepants'' episode "Mid-Life Crustacean", which prompts him to spend the night out with [=SpongeBob=] and Patrick doing wild (yet childishly lame) activities.