A staple in most classic sitcoms and animated television programs is the "ageless birthday episode". This is an episode that centers on a specific character's birthday but never mentions the character's new age. If this character's actual age is part of the show's status quo, then you can expect his/her age to remain the same even after the "birthday episode"
. The inevitable numerous guests and fancy decorations
at his/her birthday party raise even more curiosity as to what this character's age is, as such a party would only seem to make sense during a monumental birthday like their 21st or 40th.
This trope occurs most often in children's cartoons and more kid-friendly sitcoms, and goes hand-in-hand with Not Allowed to Grow Up
. This is most likely because, well, kids love birthday parties, and to them, every new age is significant.
However, it also frequently appears in more adult works, where it is decidedly less justified.
An example of Negative Continuity
and, sometimes, Status Quo Is God
. Subtrope of Birthday Episode
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- Related: In Pokémon, the anniversary of Ash and Pikachu's meeting is celebrated at least twice, but Ash is still 10.
- Heck, according to how many episodes there are, if Ash had a new adventure every single day (and certain episodes take place over multiple days already), there is no possible way he could still be 10 years old. Yet he is still canonically 10 years old.
- None shown on screen, but when One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda was asked about the possibility of the characters aging, he said that they do have birthdays, they just turn the same age every year ("Lucky bastards.") They all do end up aging after a two year time skip.
- The Movie for Yes! Pretty Cure 5 GO!GO! focuses on Nozomi's birthday, but she's never explicitly given an age (she started off Yes! Pretty Cure 5 as 14, but Comic Book Time was invoked soon after).
- Calvin and Hobbes had an arc were Susie invites Calvin to her birthday party. Her age isn't mentioned, but they all appear to be perpetually 6.
- The Duck Who Never Was plays with this. It was first published in 1994 (the sixtith anniversaty of Donald's debut), and yet Donald's age was never stated throughout the comic. One character does state Donald is sixty, but this character is near-sighted and has been reading Donald's filled-in form upside down.
- Averted in an issue of Immortal Iron Fist, where Danny Rand explicitly turns 33. The issue becomes, no Iron Fist has ever seen 34...
- Initially averted in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog when one issue has him celebrating his 15th birthday. When another issue has him celebrating a birthday, Rotor questions if he should be 16 or 17 (thanks to adventures in space, Mobius went through a year of changes while Sonic didn't age at all). Sonic replies he should be 16 forever and ever, thus invoking this trope should another birthday issue come up.
- Spider-Man 2 has Peter's family throwing him a birthday party with no mention of his age.
- There is a Just William story entitled William's Birthday. As William is always eleven years old, it is not made clear whether this is his eleventh or twelfth birthday. He is eleven in all the stories before and after this one.
- By contrast, while the fourth Jennings book, Jennings and Darbishire, features a birthday with no age mentioned, it is clearly Jennings' eleventh, because he was mentioned as "nearly eleven" in the previous book.
- In the Rainbow Magic series, books with birthdays in them never reveal how old the birthday person is.
Live Action TV
- Family Matters had several episodes devoted to Carl's birthday with no mention of his age.
- Friends had several ageless birthday episodes for Rachel.
- Averted, though, in the episode where Rachel has her 30th.
- Saved by the Bell inexcusably did this with Screech's and Zack's birthdays. Since they're both in high school, there was no reason for them to not at least provide their new ages (which would've been anywhere from 15 to 18).
- Hey Dude did this in the "Guys vs. Girls" episode for Danny. Once again, inexcusable, since he was a "teenager" at the time.
- There was another episode that had an ageless birthday episode for Mr. Ernst.
- Several episodes of The Office have centered on birthdays for various cast members, including Meredith, Michael, and one where multiple birthdays are mashed together. Specific ages are never an issue, although this can be justified as the characters simply avoiding the subject on purpose.
- Thanks to the SORASing and de-SORASing frequently seen on soaps, this happens often.
- The Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse short "Gifts, Goofs, Galore" features Barbie and her friends celebrating her birthday. However, the friends realize that since Barbie never ages, as dolls never do, they don't know how old she is. Ken eventually asks her, but the vacuum drowns out her answer.
- "Little Bad Dress" takes place at Raquelle's half-birthday party, but the cartoon never specifies which half-birthday it is. (The cake only has four candles, but Raquelle looks older than four.)
- The same series averts this in "Happy Birthday Chelsea", in which Barbie's youngest sister, Chelsea, explicitly turns six years old.
- Achewood has celebrated Philippe's fifth birthday a few times, with the characters explicitly mentioning his age. Of course, what you have to understand is that when they say Philippe is five, they really do mean that Philippe is five.
- Played completely straight with the Rugrats episode "Angelica's Birthday". To the extent that, in a later episode ("Pickles vs. Pickles"), her parents say that she's still 3 years old.
- Averted, though, in the aptly titled "Tommy's First Birthday".
- Played similarly straight in the Nickelodeon Doug episode "Doug's Birthday Present." To the extent that the Disney series opened with an episode about him turning 12. Since he was 11˝ when he moved to Bluffington and lived there during the Nickelodeon birthday episode, the only logical conclusion one could draw is that he had two 12th birthdays!
- The South Park episode "Damien" does this with Cartman's birthday (although we can probably assume that he turned 9 in this episode, as the show subtly suggests that he's a little older than the three other SP boys).
- Averted in "You're Getting Old", which opened with Stan celebrating his 10th birthday.
- The Flintstones had several such episodes for Fred (such as "The Swimming Pool").
- Averted in the episode where Pebbles has her first birthday.
- Lampshaded in an episode of The Magic School Bus. It's Ms. Frizzle's birthday and the class goes to a bakery. During the And Knowing Is Half the Battle segment at the end, a kid goes there and tells the baker shown in the episode that one critical piece of information was missing from the show: They never said how old Ms. Frizzle is.
- Adventures from the Book of Virtues has one for Zach called "Gratitude". He's still 11 in this episode.
- Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog had an episode where Sonic celebrates his birthday, and Tails spends the entire episode trying to find a birthday present for him.
- Lisa has had a number of these on The Simpsons but remains 8. Averted in the episode where the mental patient who thinks he's Michael Jackson shows up, which is when she turns 8, the age she will remain for the rest of the series.
- Averted in the episode where Bart has his tenth birthday, and he's been ten ever since. Of course, this happened extremely early in the show's run, so it wasn't a problem back then.
- In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "SpongeBob Meets the Strangler", SpongeBob celebrates his birthday among several other parties he planned on the same day. Even though he has a revealed birthday, his age isn't revealed.
- Another epsiode ("Pet Sitter Pat") when Spongebob was invited to his grandmother's birthday. All was said about her age was "turning...even older".
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Sweet and Elite" centers on Twilight Sparkle's birthday among other things, though her age is never revealed.
- A "U.S. Acres" segment on Garfield and Friends had this for Roy.
- Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines has two. One involves Muttley's birthday, and in the other, Dick Dastardly thinks it's the general who is having a birthday.
- Yogi Bear had two such episodes: one for Ranger Smith and one for Yogi.
- The New Yogi Bear Show had another one for Yogi.
- Phineas and Ferb: the episode "Phineas' Birthday Clip-O-Rama" centers around Phineas' birthday, but his age remains a mystery (all we know is that despite aging a year he is still "younger than 15").
- Mike, Lu & Og: Averted in "The Great Snipe Hunt", in which Og turns 7.
- ''Teen Titans" the main arc of season 4 sets off with Raven's birthday, we're never actually told how old Raven is, but most of fandom assumes it was her 16th birthday because of the Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday trope.
- Subverted with Peppa Pig, where with the mom's birthday, Daddy Pig whispers it to Peppa, who comments that it's old. Daddy Pig just puts a couple of candles on the cake.
- Played with in The Magic Adventures Of Mumfie: Scarecrow celebrates his first birthday in "Scarecrow's Birthday Surprise" (because he never had one), and The Queen of Night has an ageless on in "It Won't Be Alright On The Night".