Buying a cake for Christmas is a [[UsefulNotes/ChristmasInJapan Japanese tradition]]. But these cakes have a definite expiration date -- no one wants to eat Christmas cake after December 25th. And no matter how attractive a woman is, it's said, no Japanese male will want to [[DoubleStandard marry her after she's 25]]. Thus, "Christmas Cake" is used as a metaphor term for a woman rendered unmarriageable because she is past the freshness of her youth; roughly equivalent to "OldMaid." It's a common trope for a character to at least be surprised that another isn't married yet by this age. Even when the writers are sympathetic to the character, nagging to marry will still come from someone, usually her parents.

A CoolBigSis may be one, or heading there, usually with extreme annoyance; referring to this character as ''ObaSan'' is about as tactful as referring to someone as ''[[MaamShock Ma'am]]'' and is likely to induce a rage. Sometimes this is just a device to explain [[MustHaveLotsOfFreeTime them hanging around]] other characters younger than them.

On the antagonistic side, a PunchClockVillain is often a Christmas Cake. She tends to be very attractive but is relegated to cake status by annoying habits. The other problem occurs if she's also stuck in an ImprobablyFemaleCast or any such place where men are slim pickings. The CompetenceZone might force her to hang around and even fawn over men ''much'' younger [[{{Ephebophile}} than her]].

Interestingly, the more unexpected the presence of the Christmas Cake is, the more likely her being one is emphasized as [[AuthorAppeal being an attractive point]]. If a character expresses this point in-story, he LikesOlderWomen.

This is on its way to being a DiscreditedTrope: the latest Japanese census data shows that more and more people are marrying older, with most people under 25 remaining unmarried. Many teens and young adults have never heard of the concept and many that have think it's old-fashioned. Having a character believing in the Christmas Cake concept may mark them as being likewise old-fashioned. Others just seemed to move the age up to match the times; "New Year's noodles" (referring to [[ Toshikoshi soba]], generally eaten on New Year's Eve) sets the upper limit at 31.

The Christmas Cake trope is related to NeverASelfMadeWoman. It's primarily the Japanese-culture specific variant of OldMaid, so Japanese entries should predominate this list. Also, a woman being single and 25 years or older is '''not''' enough to qualify for this trope, even if they ''are'' Japanese. In order to fall under this trope, the woman must make a specific reference to the concept of "needing to have been married by a certain age" - typically by either having a complex about being older and unmarried, or making it clear that they don't believe in the concept of being "too old to marry". (If the woman simply doesn't care, and isn't made to care by the plot, it doesn't count.) If the trope itself [[DiscussedTrope is brought up]] but not in reference to any specific female characters, that counts as an example as well. If a non-Japanese entry is to be added, it must be one where the trope is discussed ''and'' where the age where an eligible bachelorette becomes a spinster is both specific ''and young'' (25 is still considered young in many cultures; it should be lower for a non-Japanese entry to count such that it stands out).

Another more modern, but no less blunt, term used in Japan is "urenokori", which is also a term for leftover unsold items in a store's inventory.

See also GrandeDame and MaidenAunt for the much older Western variants. Also see MyBiologicalClockIsTicking and IWantGrandkids. Not to be confused with [[TheDitz Fruit Cake]]. Not to be confused with [[TheCakeIsALie being a lie]], either. Compare and contrast with StacysMom, an older character who has an excess of younger suitors.

In an ironic twist, in North American anime fandom, it has completely flipped meanings. Instead, "Christmas Cake" is applied to ''highly desirable'' women near/over 25, with message board arguments over who is best. No examples of this latter day meaning will be added here.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
%% The following {{Zero Context Example}}s have been commented out and copied to Discussion. Please don't add them back unless you also add context to show how they fit this trope.
%% Sawako Yamanaka from ''Manga/KOn''.
%% ''OL'' (''Anime/OruchubanEbichu'', aka ''Ebichu Minds The House'').
%% Dominura (''Anime/{{Simoun}}'', unusually old for a Sibylla).
* Taeko Yasuko of ''Manga/{{Area 88}}'', Ryoko's loyal secretary. She is very sensitive about her age and exploded when someone hit on her since she thought he was making fun of her.
* Minamo "Nyamo" Kurosawa from ''Manga/AzumangaDaioh'' is nagged by mom and frequently teased by Yukari, despite the latter being a "cake" herself.
* Linna Yamazaki in ''[[Anime/BubblegumCrisis Bubblegum Crisis 2040]]'' has to deal with her parents who not only nag, but set up meetings (''omiai'') for her with potential partners.
* Emu Hino, the female lead from ''Manga/CryingFreeman''. She was in her late 20's and a virgin by the time she met Yoh Hinomura and was set up for death. So, she asked the handsome and gentlemanly Yoh to take her virginity before killing her... which partially breaks Yoh's conditioning and makes him fall for her, thus he decides to [[BattleCouple make her his partner instead]].
* Mitsuka Yoshimine from ''Manga/DearS''. Her age is never specified but she sure ''looks'' like she's at least 25, and despite the ridiculously {{Stripperiffic}} costumes she routinely wears (and/or strips out of) ''while teaching a high school class'' (presumably full of horny high school age boys), plus the fact that pretty much everything that comes out of her mouth is suggestive or overtly about sex... Nobody pays any attention to her. At all. Her love life is deader than a doornail.
* ''Manga/DetectiveConan'':
** Subverted. 28-year-old detective Miwako Satou was offered a matchup by her mother since she looked as if she MustHaveLotsOfFreeTime, and hence, would become a Christmas cake. Which turned out to cause a WeddingDeadline-like moment for her ''boyfriend'', Detective Takagi. Really not helped by how the guy Satou Sr. wanted for her daughter was Takagi's ''romantic rival'', Detective Shiratori.
** Subverted in an earlier case, too. The victim is Sayuri Matsumoto, a Christmas Cake that was Shinichi and Ran's middle school teacher, and even when she's getting married now, she's still past the "average age" of 25. [[spoiler: The would-be killer was... the groom, hell-bent with revenge since her OverprotectiveDad caused his mother's death many years ago. They ''do'' reconcile and get married for real... but only several years later.]]
** While not directly stated, it's very strongly implied that Yayoi Himeno from episode 32 is about to become one these. She's already 24 years old, [[JerkAss looks and acts perpetually angry]], and later we learn that [[spoiler: the reason why she was ''brutally'' murdered (first strangled, then stabbed in the chest) was that she kept bugging her much-older boyfriend for marriage... but didn't know that said boyfriend was actually [[YourCheatingHeart a married man]], so he killed her to keep his wife from finding out.]]
** The ''Stranger from 10 Years Ago'' OAV shows that [[spoiler: if Shinichi never returned, it's highly likely that [[TheFirstCutIsTheDeepest Ran would prefer to stay alone]] and become this [[IWillWaitForYou while waiting for him]], even turning down Dr. Araide's marriage proposals. Said OAV was [[AllJustADream just a dream of Conan's]], but still.]]
** In the "Distinguished Family's Consecutive Accidental Death Case", the eldest daughter Nobuko not only is single while her younger sister Yasue is married and her brother Hieomi is engaged... she is already ''39''. It doesn't help that she treats her brother's girlfriend Miyuki (herself a little past the limit) like shit; her father reacts via openly citing the trope.
-->'''Nagato''': I apologize for my daughter's behavior... [[LampshadeHanging I believe she's like this since she hasn't been able to get married]].
-->'''[[DeadpanSnarker Conan]]''' (inner thoughts): With a personality like ''[[HairTriggerTemper th]][[JerkAss at]]'', she never will.
* Mika-sensei from ''Manga/DokiDokiSchoolHours'' is 27 and still lives with her parents. She doesn't mind though, since she loves to be spoiled by her father and cares mostly for good food. Her mother is worried though and sets her up for a date for an ArrangedMarriage, [[spoiler:which doesn't turn out too well]].
* Miz Mishtal in ''Anime/ElHazardTheMagnificentWorld'' is another example of this; her first appearance shows her negative reaction to a letter from one her old (and married) schoolmate. Of course, the trope then gets famously subverted soon after when she meets Fujisawa. Since both are in their late 20's, it works out well for all involved.
* Mayuko-sensei from ''Manga/FruitsBasket''. [[spoiler:In the ending she gets together with Hatori.]] This is even lampshaded at one point, when Shigure meets her while standing in as Tohru's guardian for a parent-teacher conference. As they snipe at each other, one thing he says is how she's pretty much all but past her marriageable years.
* Yura Kawada from ''Manga/FutariEcchi'', before she meets her match in the equally cute and even-then-not-taken Makoto, whom she met via [[PerfectlyArrangedMarriage an arranged date that went really well]]. Her cousin-in-law/neighbor/counselor Kyouko also fits in, until she gets married as well.
* Namiko-sensei from ''Manga/KashimashiGirlMeetsGirl'' has gone without a boyfriend for thirty-five years. Or [[RunningGag so she says all the time]]. She also [[CuteClumsyGirl tends to fall into holes]].
* Shura Kirigakure from ''Manga/BlueExorcist'' is hinted to be this when Yukio starts to say what age she will turning this year. He gets an empty beer can thrown at his forehead for his troubles, but not before he says enough of the word to make it seem like he was going to say 26 or 27. Turns out there's a good reason she never bothered getting married. [[spoiler:Due to a magical contract made with her ancestor, she will die at the age of 30. Once freed from said contract, she later mentions she is going to a dating party.]]
* Haruka Urashima from ''Manga/LoveHina''. She ''hates'' being reminded of her single status and called "ObaSan" (mostly in the anime than in the manga). Though she ultimately marries her VictoriousChildhoodFriend ([[spoiler:none other than Seta Noriyasu]]) in the manga.
* Nanako Kuroi (''Manga/LuckyStar''), 27 and still single. After hearing her students discuss the christmas cake/unmarried woman metaphor earlier in the episode she actually buys a Christmas cake after the 25th and proclaims (as she walks into the sunset) "You are wanted". Further joked about when Nanako meets Kona's cousin Yui and assumes because she is alone at a festival that she is also unmarried at an advanced age. Yui however ''is'' married, but with a husband seems to always be off at work [[ImprobablyFemaleCast and offscreen]]. Everyone but Nanako just finds it embarrassing.
* ''Anime/{{Macross}}'':
** ''Anime/SuperDimensionFortressMacross'': Mari Iijima, voice actress for Minmay, mentions this trope by name in the DVD commentary for the ADV release of episode 9, "We are like Christmas Cakes".
** ''Anime/MacrossDelta'': Freyja is implied to be one by Windermerean standards: she's 14 (later turning 15), and one reason she ran away from her home was the village elder putting extreme pressure on her to get married already. {{Justified}} by the Windermereans' short lifespans; dying at 30 means their race would have to start having kids at around 14 in order to have time to raise them.
* ''Manga/{{Mahoromatic}}'' turns the idea into a gag, where a much older Suguru is shocked to find his old boy-chasing teacher looking exactly the same.
* Touko Kuzunoha of ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'' is the calm and composed Shinmeiryuu mentor of Setsuna. At least, she's calm and composed most of the time. When the scheme of the BigBad in the Mahora Festival StoryArc went off without a hitch, ruining her love life, and leaving her a future where she'll remain an unmarried 30-something, she snapped.
-->'''Kataragi:''' It could still work out...
-->'''Touko:''' I'll be in the magic world, and on top of that, an [[CoolAndUnusualPunishment ermine]]! What the ''[[SoundEffectBleep bleep]]'' kind of long-distance relationship is that!?
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'':
** Shizune, as shown in one of ''Shippuden'''s {{omake}}s where she whines about how she's unmarried at age 31, (due to having spent alot of years accompanying Tsunade and having to make sure she did not get into too much trouble) unlike Kurenai who has already a boyfriend. [[spoiler: Becomes a FunnyAneurysmMoment when said boyfriend, Asuma, dies.]]
** The current Mizukage, Mei Terumī, is apparently one as well. While nobody is dumb enough to actually say this, [[TwistingTheWords she often misconstrues]] one of her bodyguard's words as claiming this. She then promptly [[BerserkButton threatens to kill him]] if he won't shut up, [[DissonantSerenity while still maintaining a smile on her face]]. The way she treats her younger bodyguard and her comments about Gaara and Sasuke have some fans joking that she fits the "fawning over [[{{Ephebophile}} younger men]]" part of the trope as well. The fact that she called Sasuke attractive before [[spoiler:trying to melt him]] doesn't help at all. For some it might however, and you know who you are.
** There's also Tsunade, though of course she only ''looks'' young because of a special seal that storing chakra in her forehead, giving her a youthful appearance. She's really quite old but she never bothers to look for marriage. [[spoiler: Painfully justified since her fiancee Dan died and she was unable to save him. Beyond him, there was her longtime friend Jiraiya. While it was never explicit if she did fall in love with him, he still maintained strong emotions for her and his death was a painful wound for her.]]
** This is even called out in the final chapter when the former Hokages have a get-together and this subject comes up for Tsunade and Mei, with both expressing it's "too late for them" when it comes to romance.
* [[MsFanservice Misato Katsuragi]] of ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'' makes this one of the few tropes the show plays straight, feeling discouraged at having to go to a friends wedding while single. There are also subtle and very ambiguous hints that she might actually be into Shinji (Who is ''fourteen'', by the way and her ward), but [[spoiler:shes also very attracted to Kaji, her ex, and is devastated when hes killed. Furthermore, Kaji is a bit like Shinji]]. All in all, she has issues when it comes to men.
* Haruka Shitow of ''Anime/RahXephon'' is 29 years old and has presumably remained unmarried due to still [[TheFirstCutIsTheDeepest carrying a flame]] for her childhood sweetheart [[spoiler:Ayato]], whom she lost when she was 16.
* Yomiko Readman of ''Anime/ReadOrDie'' is 25 years old and lives by herself in an apartment full of used books. She used to have a boyfriend/lover in Donnie Nakajima, but he died [[spoiler:...and it turns out that Yomiko was the one who sent him to his end in the manga. In the anime, it's implied Joker killed him off, though it's never explained what happened. Though, the manga clarifies that it's both: Joker arranged for Yomiko to be forced to kill Donnie. When Yomiko found out at the end of the manga, the events of the anime backstory happen.]] She still has a couple potential suitors. It's just that [[LesYay neither of them are men]].
* Moriko Morioka from ''Manga/RecoveryOfAnMMOJunkie'' is 30, unmarried, and a socially awkward NEET. While this trope isn't mentioned by name, she believes herself, at 30, to be "practially an old maid" and wonders why any male would be interested in her, and thinks wearing a bikini is something for younger women to do, not herself.
* Megumi Takani from ''Anime/RurouniKenshin'' is 23 years old, meaning she's still ''not'' one technically speaking, but Sanosuke pretty much calls her Christmas Cake to her face after Kenshin tells his friends about Enishi and Tomoe. She is ''very'' displeased. [[spoiler:In the end, she decides to come back to her hometown to pursue her dream to be a doctor rather than marrying.]]
* Marie Mjolnir from ''Manga/SoulEater''. In her introductory scene she's freaking out, because she wanted to have been married and retired by now, so she declares that she wants to [[CargoShip marry the toilet]]. Later things look up for her. [[spoiler: She is about to get back together with her old boyfriend, and then he's murdered on the way to their reunion date. By the end of the manga, she is pregnant and the father is heavily implied to be Stein, her FirstLove.]]
* All the main characters from the Trigger Web animation ''Anime/TurningGirls'' are 28 or 29, and still single. Each episode deals with their lives as older, single women. This trope is invoked on one of the girl's 30th birthday, as she becomes suddenly unable to attract male companionship.
* Yuri-sensei from '' LightNovel/{{Toradora}}'' (who is 29) to the point that she talks about it to herself constantly, and nearly acts like a zombie. In the LightNovels, this trope is referred to, especially in earlier volumes when she didn't have a large role in the story, literally [[RunningGag almost every time she is mentioned]]. The omniscient narrator seems personally to hate her.
* Sumire from ''Manga/KimiWaPetto'' is viewed by her coworkers with a mixture of awe and hostility for being a 28-year-old working single woman whose high education and intelligence scares away men. She does find a patient boyfriend in her first crush, Hatsumi, but in the end [[spoiler:goes the LikesOlderWomen route and hooks up with Takeshi who is 8 years her junior.]]
* Ayako, the ShrineMaiden in ''Manga/GhostHunt''. Naru teases that she's a bit old to be an unspoilt virgin.
** Ayako is only 23 years old according to Wiki/{{Wikipedia}} and a few other sites, so she's actually still a few years away from becoming a Christmas Cake.
* Subverted in ''Manga/FairyTail''. [[SexyMentor Ur]] gets advice from a friend that she should settle down and get a man since she's approaching that age. It turns out Ur already had a daughter, which she never mentioned because she believed her daughter was dead. While we don't know what happened between them, her daughter Urtear is alive and kicking as TheDragon (and hates her mother because she was tricked into believe that Ur had abandoned her to her luck [[spoiler: but she still planned to go back in time and fix that "detail" to not lose her]]).
* ''Anime/PhantomQuestCorp'': Ayaka realizes she isn't getting any younger and wonders if she'll ever find that "special someone". So she sometimes asks Madam Sumei to read her fortune, only to be told her chances are nil. Though it's {{subverted}}, since she knows Detective Karino is in love with her and she isn't above flirting with him. [[PlayingHardToGet But she doesn't make it easy for him either.]]
* ''Anime/{{Patlabor}}'': Shinobu is in her mid-late 20's and a dedicated police captain of the Special Vehicles 1st section. As such, her mother worries about her chances of marriage, fearing she may be injured before she finds a husband. While Shinobu appreciates her mother's concern, she appears to be in no rush to get married. Though, [[LikeAnOldMarriedCouple given the way she and her fellow captain, Gotoh, relate to each other]], you'd think she already ''was''.
* Taeko from ''Anime/OnlyYesterday''. She's 27 and unmarried, which gets brought up many times in the film to the point where Toshio's grandmother suggests she marry him. [[spoiler: Since Toshio and Taeko quite like each other, it ultimately works.]]
* ''Manga/HighschoolOfTheDead'' flat-out defies the trope with [[SchoolNurse Shizuka]], since her age (27) hasn't stopped ''anyone'' from finding her sexually appealing. Takashi's friend, Imamura stated that he thought she was hot specifically ''because'' [[ she's an older woman.]] Takashi and Hirano [[ have also been aroused by her]] and Shimada said she had a nice body, before [[spoiler: [[ attempting to rape her]]]].
* In ''Manga/RosarioToVampire'', Mizore Shirayuki is a yuki-onna, and her race can only bear children from the mid teens to mid twenties. A literal Christmas Cake, she is forced into an ArrangedMarriage so she can marry and have kids. She tries to escape by going to the one she is in love with, [[spoiler: stripping, tackling him, straddling him and begging him to have sex with her.]] The next three chapters show very explicitly- Mizore's problem is not that she personally wants to have children. It's the fact that her [[SacrificialLamb particular]] version of 'arranged marriage' means 'legally bound, forever, to be the SexSlave, or watch said slaver destroy your hometown and everyone in it.' Nothing justifies her [[spoiler: attempted rape]] of Tsukune, but it's understandable that she got a little crazy. (We see Mizore's fiancée sexually violating her later in the manga, incidentally. [[spoiler: It is the trauma of this that drives her to attempt suicide.]]
* The adult manga ''Manga/ToshiueNoHito'' uses this for some drama when the 20-year-old protagonist (in university at the time) introduces his new girlfriend to his parents; they're scandalised that he's living with a 26-year-old widow. When they actually meet her, they're somewhat surprised to find she's really, ''really'' [[OlderThanTheyLook young-looking]]. How young? She later models clothes for ''pre-teens''.
* In ''Manga/ABridesStory'', it is mentioned that the newly-wed Amir is a bit old for marriage. She's twenty, and her husband is twelve. A bit of TruthInTelevision because Asian girls at the time did tend to be married off in their early teens.
* The Second Guest in ''Anime/GregoryHorrorShow'' is an unmarried woman who is, if Judgement Boy's observation is true, in her late twenties/early thirties. The fact that she chose her career over her boyfriend (resulting in him breaking up with her) and that she had to watch her best friend marry the guy actually turns out to be the root of [[SanitySlippage all her mental problems.]] [[TheWoobie Poor woman...]]
* A RunningGag in the early episodes of ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'' is how Madoka's {{Meganekko}} homeroom teacher, Kazuko Saotome, complains endlessly about her Christmas Cake status. ''Even in class''. Her age isn't fully disclosed, but she is a friend of Madoka's mom Junko... so she may be already in her ''thirties''. To give you a good idea, one of her lectures is based around many ways the world could end, with her quipping that she'd rather have the world end than carry the label of Cake.
* Hitomi Shinonome from ''Manga/{{Loveless}}'', Ritsuka's homeroom teacher, is just 23, but still counts. Made worse by how she is also a virgin, thus she still has her cat ears (which are supposed to disappear once the person has sex) - a symbol of [[VirginityMakesYouStupid her immaturity]] and [[ShrinkingViolet insecure nature]]. [[DeconstructedTrope All of this has a devastating effect on what's left of her self-esteem.]]
* Haruna Sakurada from ''Anime/SailorMoon'' is one of the most famous examples of this, specially in the first anime. in its second episode she has a sobbing HeroicBSOD when a BrainwashedAndCrazy Umino flips her skirt and gives the audience and the boys quite a PantyShot ([[DefiledForever "... I'm soileeeed! I'll never get marrieeeeed!"]]), shows LOTS of envy when a fellow teacher accepts a marriage proposal (subverting the trope in the process; she's noted to be ''34'') and then almost catfights with Rei and Usagi for the bridal bouquet, and when she ''does'' get an off-screen prospect boyfriend and the guy cancels their date due to work she becomes ''very'' irritable. On the episode following that Panty Shot, Usagi hears a love letter on the radio that came from her and can't believe it came from her teacher [[LampshadeHanging seeing as how she's too old for this stuff]].
* Keiko from ''Manga/TwentyYearOldGirlXThirtyYearOldMaiden'' angsts about this, especially once she starts dating Emi, a cute girl ten years her junior, whose [[{{Moe}} youthful beauty]] makes Keiko even more aware of her age. Fortunately, [[LikesOlderWomen Emi doesn't seem to mind]].
* Tomoe from ''Anime/HanasakuIroha'' is ''[[BerserkButton REAL]]'' [[BerserkButton sensitive about her lack of relationships]].
* Tesla Magnets in ''Anime/MegamanNTWarrior'' is not only a Christmas Cake but obsesses over it. Just to give you an idea, she hijacks a robot named Thirty and goes on a rampage. And if she's ever especially angry, expect a backdrop covered in "30" to appear.
* ''Manga/HidamariSketch'': Yoshinoya-sensei is [[VagueAge hinted]] to be at least thirty years old, but doesn't seem to care all that much. (In her own mind, at least, she's eternally seventeen.)
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'': Although she's never directly called "Christmas Cake" in the [[{{Filler}} anime]], Rangiku Matsumoto's age is a very sore point for her, with one filler episode going so far as to even create a male version for the sole purpose of having one [[BrattyHalfPint kid]] press two {{berserk button}}s by referring to Rangiku as "oba-san" and Yumichika as "o-san" in the same conversation. The anime later takes Rangiku's age references [[UpToEleven even further]] by making it such a big issue in the Zanpakutou Arc that it's actually the reason why Rangiku's zanpakutou, Haineko, is angry with her. Averted in the manga, where it's never an issue for either Rangiku or Yumichika, making it an anime-only trope.
* Implied to be the case with Major General Armstrong in ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist''. She uses it to her advantage when charming information out of an enemy. Though it appears to be less because of her age and more because of her terrifying personality and power (she is the second person capable of intimidating the Elric brothers.)
* PlayedForLaughs at implication in ''Anime/CarnivalPhantasm'' in the Ilya's Castle Special: After defeating Rider, Ilya boasts that mature women had no value, then Caster retaliates by calling her a {{lolicon|AndShotacon}} doll that doesn't understand the true value of mature women. Ilya retaliates again by defeating Caster... but not after claiming this:
-->''"All Japanese men are lolicons!!"''
* Played with by Meme Touwa in ''LightNovel/GroundControlToPsychoelectricGirl''; she leaves a note for Makoto saying that the refrigerator contains a cake that's about to hit its expiration date. Naturally, [[spoiler: she's hiding in the fridge.]]
* The club advisor's single status become a running gag in ''LightNovel/MyTeenRomanticComedySNAFU'', to the point where it the physiological damage could bring her down to her knee,
* {{Implied|trope}} in ''Manga/KiniroMosaic''. Local SenseiChan Karasuma said she's "praying" on [[UsefulNotes/ChristmasInJapan Christmas]]. This probably means she's praying for a boyfriend.
* Shizuku Ninomiya from ''LightNovel/BeyondTheBoundary''. The very mention of marriage around her is a BerserkButton for her.
* Bekki Natsumi from ''LightNovel/NoRin'' anguishes about this all the time. She claims to be 40 years old, but only looks to be in her mid-20's. She often makes it a point to mention her single status to her class a lot as well, which often sours their mood but also breaks up any arguments that may have been occurring too.
* Aya Kunitachi in ''Manga/HighSchoolNinjaGirlOtonashiSan'' is still husband hunting at age thirty. To her dismay, the man she falls for, Kariya, is a {{Jerkass}} who considers her an AbhorrentAdmirer due precisely to her age, despite being 32 himself. To him, there is a significant difference between thirty years old for a man and for a woman.
* Mayumi is one in ''Manga/BokuraWaMinnaKawaisou''. Some of the comedy in the series is derived from her terrible luck with men, and how she always laments when a younger female coworker announces she either has a boyfriend, or is getting married. And she always seems to go after JerkAss men who have a tendency to be two-timers, which only exacerbates this problem. Although [[TheAlcoholic considering]] [[ManipulativeBitch other]] [[DoubleStandardAbuseFemaleOnMale aspects]] of her personality [[FridgeBrilliance it actually makes sense why she'd be single]].
* The third story in ''Manga/SchoolMermaid'' has a school gym teacher named Noriko join in on the mermaid hunt because she nearing 30 and desperately wants a boyfriend that's she willing to invoke the mermaid spell to get one. [[spoiler: The disturbing thing however the object of her curse is a ''school-aged boy''.]]
* Koumoto Akari, [[TwoTeacherSchool the teacher of the school]] in ''Manga/MyMonsterSecret'', is considered a LivingLegend for her sheer number of failed attempts at getting a boyfriend, and her inability to attract any man is treated as an almost supernatural aura that deprives even [[MsFanservice Shiho]] of her sexiness when the latter tries to give her advice. Her [[ReallySevenHundredYearsOld great-great-grandmother]] [[{{Troll}} Akane]] takes an intense delight in reminding her, and often pays dearly for it. It doesn't help that she's inhumanly strong, extremely prone to violence, and her ideal man is a literal Prince Charming on a white horse. However, Akari's story does have a happy ending: [[spoiler:Sakurada ([[HotForTeacher one of Akari's students]]) confesses to her late in the series; though she says they should hold off on dating until he's graduated, they do become a couple.]]
* [[BizarreAlienBiology Biologically enforced]] and ''exaggerated'' with the Emaan of ''Anime/SuperDimensionCenturyOrguss'': females become ''irreparably sterile'' by the age of 18, so any Emaan female who doesn't have a TeenPregnancy will never have children at all.
* Midori from ''I'll Bring You Mille-Feuille!'' is almost twenty-seven and obsessed with finding a husband... Despite being gay. Her friend is unamused by her wants to have a [[TheBeard beard]] and states she's only hurting herself.
* ''Happy Negative Marriage'' has a RareMaleExample, and one more focused on the social expectations than on the individual's own insecurities. Keita doesn't particularly want to be married, but the company he works for expects that men will be married by 30. Its compensation plans are set up to favor married men, project management is unofficially restricted to men who can head a family, and its singles dorm kicks out anyone who turns 31. Keita's boss also forces him into [[ArrangedMarriage a marriage interview]] at the instigation of his mother; ignoring a "request" from one's boss is tantamount to suicide. But, you know, nobody's ''forcing'' him to get married. [[spoiler: [[PerfectlyArrangedMarriage Everything goes well for completely unrelated reasons]].]]
* A few of ''Manga/CityHunter''[='=]s recurring characters have the age part down... [[SubvertedTrope And don't care]]: Miki is a foreigner (or at least was raised in Central America) so she doesn't have the social conditioning, Kaori used to care (and would sometime drop hints to Ryo that she was getting to that age) until she learned that her beloved Ryo could not marry due being legally dead, and Saeko just doesn't care and [[BlatantLies will claim she's 20 whenever this is brought up]].
* Examples from ''Manga/CatsEye'':
** {{Subverted}} with Rui: she's in that age bracket, and her sisters, the fiancee of one of her sisters, and [[TheMatchmaker a cop friend with the hobby of matchmaking]] have tried to get her a boyfriend, failing because she just doesn't care. There are hints she's actually in love with Toshio, but [[IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy never says anything because he's the fiancee of her middle sister]].
** Late in the series Mitsuko Asatani starts approaching that age and gets progressively crankier for her inability to find a boyfriend. This is part of her {{Deconstruction}} of the OfficeLady trope: she's an ambitious woman with the skills to succeed even as policewoman (and has been explicitely called an elite cop), [[NoGuyWantsAnAmazon and that's exactly what scares away most of her potential boyfriends]] (the rest are scared away by [[LethalChef her cooking]]). Fittingly, when she ''does'' get engaged it's by accident: [[ItMakesSenseInContext she happened to unknowingly have on her the deactivation code for the explosive watch Hitomi had put on Kamiya]], [[AccidentalMarriage and Kamiya ran through the whole town, ruined the cover of some of her fellow cops while they were undercover because only they knew where she was, barged on her meeting with the latest potential boyfriend shouting he needed her, and when the potential boyfriend tried to interfere he punched him out, and only then he realizes he has effectively proposed to her in the presence of witnesses]].
* The head maid in ''LightNovel/DestructionFlagOtome'' was never particularly attractive and focused too much on work, so before she knew it she was past the age she could reasonably hope to get married and simply gave up. However, when she made friends with Katarina her coworkers saw her better sides and she eventually ended up marrying a handsome young gardener.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In ''ComicBook/{{Supergirl}}'' fanfic ''Fanfic/HellsisterTrilogy'', it's brought up by Mrs. Berkowitz, who is worried her twenty-year-old tenant Linda Danvers is clinging to a guy she just met because she's afraid of becoming an old maid.
-->"I see a nice woman like you. 29 and you ain't never been with a man. Am I right?"\\
"That's right," nodded Linda. "Not... before Dev, that is."\\
"So you know this man? How?"\\
Linda drew a breath. "I know this man very well, Mrs. B. A lot more than you'd believe?"\\
"Oh? You do? How, Linda?" She held up her hands again to stop Linda's reply. "Listen to me. Yesterday you go to Mr. Clark Kent's wedding, the nice man whom you met in Metropolis when you was in the orphanage. You were excited, sure, but not like you are today. I even think you were a little sad. Now, today, you're up in the air, your feet don't touch the ground unless they're anchored. You say you met him after the wedding."\\
"That's correct," Linda said.\\
"In other words, this gentleman sweeps you off your feet just after you see two people get married, and you're maybe thinking that you're never going to go to your own wedding in your lifetime. Also correct?"\\
Linda opened her mouth. No words came out.\\
Ida Berkowitz looked at Linda with some pity.

* Invoked in ''Film/TheKarateKidPartII''. Yuki-san, Miyagi's old flame, ''willingly'' decided to remain an "old maid" as she considered that it was the better alternative to being a TrophyWife to Sato, Miyagi's RivalTurnedEvil.
* ''Film/LateSpring'' (1949) and ''Film/EarlySummer'', two films by the renowned director Creator/YasujiroOzu, are both all about this. In both, Creator/SetsukoHara plays a woman in her late 20s named Noriko who is unmarried. She is pretty much OK with being unmarried, but in both movies her family thinks that this is a major problem, and they decide to make an ArrangedMarriage. In both she gets matched up basically against her will to an older man the audience never sees. The difference is the ending; one is a DownerEnding in which she's badgered and pressured into going through with the marriage, while the other is a less depressing ending in which she instead marries a different man she has genuine feelings for.
* The comments made by other characters in the movie ''Film/KumikoTheTreasureHunter'' indicate that they regard the 29 year old title character as a Christmas Cake well past her sell-by date.

* In ''Fear and Trembling'', a semi-autobiographical novel by Amélie Nothomb in which she describes her disastrous experience as a foreign OfficeLady in a Japanese corporation, her immediate superior is an unmarried 29-year-old woman. It's hinted that her parents are desperate to see her get married before she turns 30 (which she doesn't).

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/KamenRiderDrive'''s Rinna Sawagami is 29 years old and often refers to her worries of being too old for marriage. In one episode where a MonsterOfTheWeek is looking for a bride, he even rejects her as too old. [[spoiler:By the Kamen Rider Mach movie she is finally engaged to her co-worker Otta, although they seem to have an on-off relationship.]]
* ''Series/TotalDivas'' has Natalya making a crack about Summer Rae still being single when she's nearly thirty. It's clearly a BerserkButton for Summer - as she slaps Nattie so hard she breaks her nose.

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* Until the 90s, Wrestling/AllJapanWomensProWrestling's policy was that their wrestlers had to retire at age 25. To put this in perspective, they were the last surviving women's promotion in Japan since the WWWA toured back in the 1950s up until the establishment of JWP in 1986. Nearly two generations of Japanese wrestlers did not have the option to jump to other promotions unless they were willing to leave the country.

* Katisha in Creator/GilbertAndSullivan's ''Theatre/TheMikado'' pursues the much younger Nanki-Poo as a lover despite his vehement protests (he even runs away just to avoid her) though she's mostly played sympathetically and ends up [[PairTheSpares with someone her own age]] at the end.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The thirty year old Muffy from the ''VideoGame/HarvestMoon'' series. She's always lamenting her failure with men (one of them even dumped her specifically because of her age), and in the Japanese version of ''VideoGame/HarvestMoonDS,'' her parents even try to arrange a marriage for her (in the American version, they just try setting her up on a blind date)! She's also one of the available marriage candidates in ''VideoGame/HarvestMoonAWonderfulLife'' and ''VideoGame/HarvestMoonDS'' -- in DS, she'll also eventually end up marrying Griffin if the player doesn't marry her, though in ''A Wonderful Life,'' she and Griffin will merely remain in a state of perpetual [[UnresolvedSexualTension UST]].
* ''[[Franchise/ShinMegamiTenseiPersona Persona]]'':
** High school teacher Noriko Kashiwagi from ''VideoGame/Persona4'', who is immediately fingered as one of these in her introduction and later is so delusional about her looks that she competes in a ''high school'' beauty contest and genuinely acts surprised at her loss. One could say she is an {{Expy}} of [[Manga/DearS Mitsuka Yoshimine]].
** In the earlier ''VideoGame/Persona2'', this was deconstructed with Ulala. In contrast to Maya's success as an editor and her luck with men, Ulala, on top of being aimless, has been repeatedly swindled by a slew of boyfriends and is stuck in a dead-end job as a lingerie saleswoman. [[spoiler:Her jealousy of Maya reaches to the point that she drunk-dials JOKER to take Maya out and is cursed by him in the process. Thankfully, the curse is dispelled by Katsuya, Baofu, and Maya herself, and Ulala eventually undergoes some serious CharacterDevelopment. By the end of the game, she's much happier and more secure of herself, and has gotten a better job as Baofu's partner in his new investigation firm.]]
** Discussed in ''VideoGame/Persona5''. One of the potential LoveInterests, Sadayo Kawakami, has a second job in a [[PlatonicProstitution Maid Service]] that requires her to put on an [[TheIngenue sweet and naive act]] for her clients. Because she's older, this makes it harder for her to pull off, and as result, she doesn't get many customers. As such, she gives this as justification for why she's ok with the Protagonist using her service, despite being his homeroom teacher. The reason she has said second job? [[spoiler: Being blackmailed by a former student's abusive guardians for money after he committed suicide and she tried to help him be a better student. As such, Joker's arc with her is to change them to break her free of her debt and renew her passion for teaching.]] She is the most hesitant entering in a relationship with Joker, with her becoming a form of mother-figure to him if their bond is platonic.
*** Additionally, played with by Sae, who's hinted to be in her early 20s. When [[spoiler:her new boss is told that she won't be allowed to prosecute Shido]], he condescendingly reminds her that she hasn't found a husband yet, and suggests that she can use her time off to find one, which doesn't make Sae any happier about the news.
* The basis behind a joke in ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWars Original Generation 2'', where Aguija is called an "Old Hag" by the teenaged Lune Zoldark. She takes particular offense to this, saying that she's still in her 20's. HardDrinkingPartyGirl Excellen (23) then gets into it, pointing out that all the females in their team are ''still'' younger than her, drawing a few uncomfortable laughs from Katina and Rhada, who at ages 25 and 27, are only ''just''.
** In MX, Aqua Centrum has this stigma as she is among the oldest pilots in the game, older than her copilot Hugo by a few years and significantly older than the various pilots from series such as Gundam and Dragonar.
* Raine Sage of ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia'' isn't ''quite'' to this point yet, but she does make more than one reference to worrying about her age. All the more ridiculous because, as an elf [[spoiler:or, rather, half-elf]] she'll live for about a thousand years. She can, indeed, pursue romantic involvement with the much younger main character.
* Reina Mayuzumi of ''VideoGame/TraumaCenter Under The Knife 2'', also TheVamp, is 35, single, and constantly tries to sex up Derek, after which Angie furiously complains that she has to be much older than she looks. Her ultimate fate is related to this trope.
* In ''VideoGame/MitsumeteKnight'', becoming one is [[LoveFreak Sue's]] greatest fear, as she's already 22 by the beginning of the game. She wants to have a husband and have a lovey-dovey relationship with him, but can't find one because she drives away her suitors with her WellExcuseMePrincess and MoodSwinger attitudes.
* In ''VideoGame/LuminousArc'', the Garden Children talk about Vanessa in this manner, shortly before she starts a BarBrawl with them...
* Rorona in ''VideoGame/{{Atelier Meruru|The Apprentice of Arland}}''. Rorona would have been in her 30s in Meruru, but Gust couldn't stand the thought, so they had her take a potion that turned her into an eight year old. [[TheScrappy A large portion of the fanbase was not pleased.]]
* Parodied in ''VideoGame/TheKingOfFighters XIII'', as Mai gets ''pissed'' when she pretty much [[TwistingTheWords tricks herself]] into believing that Athena is calling her an "old maid" in their pre-fight chat. Poor Athena has '''no''' idea of what's going on.
* Heavy Cruiser Ashigara from ''VideoGame/KantaiCollection'' is usually portrayed in fanworks as this for a few reasons: first is probably due to her namesake's "Hungry Wolf" nickname, which [[AlternateCharacterInterpretation usually gets misinterpreted]] as a woman seeking for a relationship with men; second could be a reference to the historical fact that several of her namesake ship's commanding officers were never married; and third is probably from a joke that came from her name "purity", which is usually thought of as a good thing but it's possible the joke is she's still "pure" (virgin, unmarried) despite her mid-to-late 20s look.
** [[AscendedMeme Milked for all its worth]] in the Anime adaptation, where Kisaragi initially mentions that she's suffered yet another failed mixer and didn't land a guy. Again referenced three episodes after, where she turns an otherwise fun curry-making contest into SeriousBusiness of incredible proportions due to her belief that getting first place would prove that she deserves to get married already. Take note, her remaining opponents then are technically kids.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* [[spoiler:Liliana]] spends most of ''VisualNovel/PrincessWaltz'' pretending to be a middleschooler, yet rather pointedly asks Arata if he likes 'older women'. His mother on the other hand outright accuses her of being a cradle-snatcher.
* Lotus from ''VisualNovel/NineHoursNinePersonsNineDoors''. She's graphically depicted as MsFanservice, in a skimpy outfit with large, shiny assets. But one of the game's ''characters'', [[HypocriticalHumor who isn't that much older]]. complain repeatedly about being forced to look at her "wrinkly grandma boobs". [[spoiler:She's actually 40 years old and a divorcee with twin daughters.]]
* Chizuru in ''VisualNovel/GrisaiaNoRakuen'' ruefully admits in the afterstory that she really does need to get married soon if it's every going to happen at all, but unfortunately the only person she's shown any interest in and can meet with often is ten years younger than her, her student ''and'' her family wouldn't approve of him. However, she does have a bonus sex scene that would fit into the canon ending [[spoiler:where Yuuji basically has a harem]] that has her quit worrying about appearances and just go for it.