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Comic Book Time
aka: Sliding Timescale
For someone who became famous in 1938, he has aged well...

"Batman was roughly twenty three or so when he started crime fighting. Nowadays he's — uh —thir-orty-ish?"
Linkara, Atop the Fourth Wall reviewing the origin comic of Batman from 1939.

The problem is this. On one hand, Superman is a high-selling, successful character with a lot of licenses and so on based off of him. You don't want him to age or die, because that means losing that successful character. On the other hand, Superman exists as part of a greater universe, and if all the stories in that universe are continuously frozen in time, that cuts off a lot of possibilities.

So what do you do? Comic Book Time. You use the illusion of time passing. You never refer to specific dates if you can help it, and you let characters change, but only a little.

This can prove harmful to characters that are tied to a certain time period. For example, Magneto's backstory involves being in the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz. This causes a particular type of aversion, the Refugee from Time where you just don't allow any Sliding Timescale at all or at least not for one character.

Another factor of Comic Book Time is that it does not pass at the same rate for everyone; secondary characters may catch Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome and age from children to teenagers and then young adults while their adult counterparts remain roughly the same age. Or minor characters can drop out of the narrative, only to return years later, aged, while their counterpart heroes remain youthful. This concept was picked up on in the Fourth Wall-breaking She-Hulk series, in which a Golden Age character decided to hang around She-Hulk as much as possible to stay youthful.

Stories focused around youngsters are especially vulnerable to this, and even aging characters usually aren't allowed to progress to the point they'd be separated from their peers.

One possible justification is that publication time does not equal the passage of time in the book. Particularly in recent years, comic book publishers have tended to adopt a model where each monthly issue of the book in question is a single installment of a longer story-arc; for instance, a six-issue story arc where Batman takes on the Joker may only equal one night in the actual passage of time. Despite this, the story has taken up half a year of "real time". This, naturally, is going to affect both how quickly you can develop the overall narrative and how contemporary you can make it. However, all characters in a universe tend to inhabit the same "present", despite when they first appeared or how much time has passed in their series.

Indeed, this is a valid point, because an open-ended series that wants to keep using the same characters and keep them in a given age-range for a long time pretty much must use some variant of comic-book time.

An adaptation of a series that has this can usually avoid it, as most of them only last a few years. On the flipside, non-comic series that last long enough also tend to use this.

Stories that take place in the future, naturally, are allowed to completely ignore this — unless the same future is referenced again later, in which case it'll have slid forward the same amount.

Compare Frozen in Time, Webcomic Time, Talking Is a Free Action, Not Allowed to Grow Up, Can't Grow Up. Often results in Outdated Outfit. See Year Zero for a compromise, and Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome for similar peculiarities in live-action productions.


Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Batman has been protecting Gotham City for about a decade. Batman has always been protecting Gotham City for about a decade.
    • Interestingly, the movie Bruce and his parents went to see has consistently been The Mark of Zorro starring Tyrone Power. This movie's first theatrical run was in 1940. This would make Bruce Wayne be in his 80s. It's probably only a matter of time before he went to see the Antonio Banderas version from 1998.
    • Lampshaded in Neil Gaiman's Whatever Happened to The Caped Crusader?.
      Selina Kyle: I've known the Departed since... well, it was a couple of years before Pearl Harbor. I guess that dates me.
    • After Infinite Crisis, it's closer to twelve years, one of which was covered by the "One Year Later" jump.
      • Pre-Flashpoint and the New 52 reboot, Batman and Superman debuted in the same year. Circa the start of Final Crisis, Bats, Supes, and the in-universe Silver Age of Superheroes is around 13-14 years old.
    • The Batman is a textbook example of adaptations avoiding this; it starts right when Batman has been around for three years, and advances in time as it goes along (in the third season Batgirl was in High School, and in the fifth we discover she's already started college; Robin also gets noticeably taller in the fifth season).
    • The rebooted New 52 timeline has Batman's career condensed to five years. This has caused a major continuity snarl, in that Bruce's son Damian is still established as being around 10 years old, and yet flashbacks show that Bruce was already Batman when he first met Damian's mother Talia.
      • It has now been said that Batman has only really been in the public spotlight for five years, and there are years before where he was doing his whole "mysterious urban legend" thing.
    • As pointed out here, Batman has been the same general age as three full generations of a Legacy Character.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: While the television show had one in-series year pass for every real year because each season took a year with an episode roughly every week, Buffy Season 8 has, of course, taken longer to unfold because of the monthly comic schedule. All the characters have been stuck at the same age for the last three real-world years. Season 8 takes place a year and a half after Season 7/half a year after Angel Season 5 (with the Angel and Spike comics in the half-year between).
  • This causes some hiccups when the characters backstory is closely tied to an certain aspect of society only to have social change happen. Take Maggie Sawyer, DCU's first openly gay character: Being in her 30s when she was outed back in 1987 it made sense for her to have an angst-filled failed marriage and a daughter whose father was given full custody in her backstory. As society moves forward she now in 2012 makes references to having been pretty much out to her self her entire life and her decision to hide in a straight marriage seems quite odd. (The original story mentioned her having been Raised Catholic, but no writer has run with this.) For comparison her girlfriend Kathy Kane is approximately her age but was introduced in 2006 has been out to herself her entire life without much angsting, her big thing being that she was thrown out of West Point under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", a thing that itself will subject her to Comic Book Time before long.
  • In the final issue of Grant Morrison's Animal Man run, Grant Morrison himself has a conversation with the main character and justifies Comic Book Time by implying that, in order to get from point A to point B, a comic book character moves instantly from panel to panel instead of actually walking there, saving a lot of time.
    • There was also the issue where they revisited Buddy's origin. The first flashback had everyone dressing and acting like it was the 60s (when Animal Man was created), but when Buddy pointed out that the scene was not how he remembered it, the flashback then started over, now showing everyone dressing and talking like it was the 80s.
  • In DC Comics, this problem was temporarily deferred from the 1960s to the mid-1980s by introducing parallel universes, where the original version of a long-running character lived on "Earth-Two" and aged, while the current version of the character did not age, but lacked most of the long history. Earth-Two was destroyed in 1986 in Crisis on Infinite Earths, but Crisis also reset the histories of many characters, again halting the problem for a few decades. The whole thing was, however, done piecemeal and in an inconsistent way; Batman, for instance, has only had minor resets done, and his history back to the 1960s still has to fit in the aforementioned "about twelve years".
    • However, characters which existed only in Earth-Two and were re-integrated as the Justice Society were allowed to bring along their age: Alan Scott as Green Lantern, Jay Garrick as The Flash, Wildcat, and the original Hourman have all visibly aged. Even still, Jay Garrick is looking remarkably well-preserved these days for someone who should be pushing 100 years old.
      • A notable, headache-inducing sidenote for the Earth-Two characters is that Earth-Two used a rough approximation of real time while Earth-One used Comic Book Time. The fact that the two crossed over regularly was only going to get more bizarre as time went on if it hadn't been halted by Crisis.
      • Another consequence of this is the utter retcon of Black Canary, originally from Earth-Two and Green Arrow's on-again/off-again love interest. Originally an older woman, she's now clearly younger than Ollie's given age of early 40s, possibly by as much as a decade. It doesn't sound so bad until you put the couple into context with Nightwing. Ollie's infamous in-universe for being a Batman copycat, so everything Batman's done, Ollie did a little later, like get a sidekick. Speedy (later Arsenal, later still Red Arrow, and now Arsenal again) is clearly a year or two at most behind Nightwing in age. In his late teens, Speedy also had a drug problem, from which Black Canary helped him recover while she and Ollie were split. The experience tied Black Canary and Speedy together so closely that they consider each other mother and son. The problem is that this story was written when Black Canary was in her mid-30s, Ollie in his late 20s, and Speedy in his mid-teens. The timeframe now is such that only seven years at the most separate Black Canary and Speedy in age, so even assuming Black Canary was exceptionally mature for her age, the "mother" moniker would be unlikely. Even more egregious is, of course, that if this occurred approximately ten years ago in continuity, she and Ollie would have been very early in their relationship, and more importantly, she'd have barely known Speedy, who had turned to drugs after an extended absence from Ollie.
      • The "fix" applied to Black Canary (circa 1980) was that she suddenly discovered that she was actually her own daughter, with false memories.
    • This isn't even consistent among all writers. Brad Meltzer, for example, had Elongated Man muse that he'd been a hero for almost two decades in the opening pages of Identity Crisis.
    • The maxi-series 52, which covered the "One Year Jump", was notable for being explicitly real time, with each of the 52 weekly issues covering the week since the last release.
      • Its weekly sequel, Countdown to Final Crisis, claimed to be real time early on, yet took place concurrently with the rest of the Comic Book Time DCU.
      • As of Adventure Comics #2, the time between Superboy's death in Infinite Crisis and his return in Final Crisis (i.e. 52 + Countdown) is said to be slightly over a year.
      • The confusion was caused by, of course, Countdown to Final Crisis. Because of DC's original stance that Countdown was going to be in real time like 52, Geoff Johns initially believed that Final Crisis was going to occur "two years" after Infinite Crisis (a panel in an early issue of Booster Gold stated "Week 104, The Final Crisis"). But since Countdown was shunted into "vague what-ever time" status... yeah. Or maybe Geoff doesn't know how long it's been since Infinite Crisis... no one can say.
    • After The Death of Superman, DC released an in-universe Newsweek equivalent that had, at one point, short quotes from various real and fictional people about Superman, his life, his death, etc. One was from William Shatner, describing how he wore a towel around his neck and jumped off his garage roof when he was six. This makes William Shatner roughly 16 in the DC universe.
    • This trope is taken advantage of in the Batman: Hush storyline, where a flashback has Bruce Wayne, age 8 or so (before his parents' murder), watching the original Green Lantern fight a supervillain. Originally, both superheroes were active at the same time (Batman's even "older" in terms of publication history!), but because the issue of Comic Book Time was handled differently for each of them, Green Lantern was active when Batman was a kid.
    • Pre Crisis, Superboy's time-era was originally shown as being either vaguely defined or taking place at the time of publication (a 1952 story shows Lana Lang competing to become "Miss Smallville of 1952" for instance). Starting in the late 50s, the writers corrected this and set Superboy as taking place in The Thirties (before Superman's 1938 debut date in the comics). By the late 1960s, this was clearly becoming unfeasible, and Superboy was then placed firmly on a sliding timescale 13-15 years behind the present-day Superman, moving his time-era up to The Fifties and then the late 1960s / the early 1970s by the time Crisis on Infinite Earths hit. Comic Book Time thus resulted in such things as the classic early 60s story "Superman's Mission For President Kennedy" being retold in the early 80s as "Superboy's Mission For President Kennedy."
  • In the long-running comic strip The Phantom, the hero married his girlfriend in 1977, following an on-and-off relationship that began in 1936; to look at the happy couple, you wouldn't think either of them had been born in 1936. Their eldest child, born in 1979, is still school-aged.
  • Spider-Man started superheroing in 1962 when he was 15, and as of 2014 he is 28.
  • Pretty much everyone in Fantastic Four, but most especially Reed and Sue's son Franklin, who was born in 1968 and has yet to reach puberty.
    • This is especially underscored by the original FF backstory, which had Reed and the team conducting a test flight of his experimental spaceship because they considered it urgent that America put humans into space before "the commies" (Sue's exact words).
    • A late 90s FF annual by Karl Kesel and Stuart Immomen lampshaded this when the 616 Ben Grimm got transported to a parallel Earth where the Silver Age Marvel Universe had aged in real time. The Thing was horrified by the 1961 origin date of that world's FF, realizing it's likely his counterpart was a WWII veteran.
  • The comic Spider-Girl started in the late 1990s in a version of the Marvel Universe without Comic Book Time; Spider-Man was in his 40s, and had a daughter with Mary Jane, the titular Spider-Girl. Of course, after the book started, Comic Book Time kicked in; it's been about ten years, and she's moved from a sophomore to a junior in that time.
    • The 2008 Mini Series GeNext does the same real-time gimmick and stars the kids and grandkids of the X-Men. (Though in this case they're the grandkids specifically of the versions seen in the also AU X-Men: The End)
  • Kitty "Shadowcat" Pryde of the X-Men was introduced during the '80s as a thirteen year old girl. Character Development saw her grow from an inexperienced kid into a full member of the team, go through numerous names, develop as an electronic whiz, psychically learn a lifetime of ninja skills, become a founding member of the British based superhero team Excalibur, and work as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.... Yet she takes a break from being a superhero to go to college full time.
    • Special mention must go to how her first romantic relationship with team member Colossus was aborted due to the fairly wide gap in their ages. Twenty years of real time later, when Colossus comes Back from the Dead (long story), Kitty has effectively aged to her early/mid twenties, while Colossus has apparently stayed the same age as always. The two resume and then consummate their relationship. It's greeted with the reaction of "About time" from Wolverine.
    • The 1981 storyline Days of Future Past depicts a Bad Future in 2013, where Kitty appears as a middle-aged woman. X-Men comics eventually reached 2013, and Kitty is decidedly not middle-aged.
    • Variations of Kitty Pryde's lack of aging can be seen in the entire New Mutants generation of X-Men introduced in the 80s, who are maybe five years older than characters introduced nearly twenty years later.
    • And at least Kitty eventually managed to reach her twenties (thanks mostly to Warren Ellis writing her into a relationship with the thirty-something Pete Wisdom). Jubilee was about fifteen when she was introduced in 1989 and has managed to age perhaps two years in the twenty years of real time that followed, at one point having her age given as thirteen without any sort of de-aging plotline involved.
      • Ellis' hands were tied with Kitty to a certain extent, especially in how much leeway he had to show the, shall we say, nature of her and Wisdom's relationship; he's said in Q & A's that he personally thought of her being nineteen or twenty, but that the Marvel bosses didn't want to age her too much. It was eventually addressed in, of all places, an ''Excalibur'' letters page, where the editors were of the opinion "Kitty's a mature girl in her late teens, and she and Wisdom are kind of like Han Solo and Princess Leia."
      • As for Jubilee, she may now be exempt from the aging issue since as of the "Curse Of the Mutants" arc, she is now a vampire and permanently 19.
  • Domino had to be at least 40 when she was first introduced. Then Progressively Prettier kicked in and she's actually aged backwards to the point where she's always drawn as a woman in her 30s. It's best to not think too hard on this and just accept it since Comic Book Time is the only explanation there is.
  • In a bizarre inversion of this trend, the Beast somehow went from a person who hadn't entered college yet (and might not even have been eighteen yet) in X-Men 66 (March 1970) to a person with a Ph.D. in Amazing Adventures 11 (March 1972). In other words, in only two years of real world time, enough time had somehow passed for him to go from being a high school grad to a doctor, somewhat like a comic-book case of Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome.
    • They even mentioned he was having his 30th birthday in a few days/weeks' time in an early '90s of "Adjectiveless" X-men.
    • Another inversion happened with Professor Charles Xavier. In the very first X-Men story he states that he is a mutant because his parents worked on the first atom bomb. This would mean that he was born in the 1940s, in other words in 1963 he must have been in his very early 20s. Some time later, with the introduction of the Juggernaut, it is revealed that Charles and his step-brother had served in the Korean War together, which meant that in the mid-1960s they should both have been around 30. And in the early 1980s, when Chris Claremont greatly elaborated the origins of Magneto and Charles Xavier, it was revealed that Charles is apparently roughly the same age or only insignificantly younger than Holocaust survivor Magneto (putting both of them into the mid-to-late 50s at the time these stories were written) and that he had fathered a son with another Holocaust survivor, Gabrielle Haller.
    • All-New X-Men Lampshades the use of Comic Book Time. The original X-Men still dress and act as though they came from the 60s, despite the fact that they should technically be from around the early 90s at this point.
  • The Punisher averts this trope; his history has him as a Vietnam vet, and he has aged real-time. This makes him somewhat paradoxical in the Marvel Universe, since everybody else around him ages in Comic Book Time. It's best not to think about it too much.
    • There is a Frank who has aged in real time, that one is only the MAX continuity (which branched off of the normal continuity at some point during the Marvel Knights run). That Frank is a Vietnam vet, whereas the traditional Frank (the one who served Heaven and became Frankencastle and the like) varies depending on the author, much like any other character.
  • The ABC Comics universe averts this. In most of their books, the date is featured quite prominently. For those characters who have very long backstories, explanations are given (Example: Tesla Strong, daughter of hero Tom Strong, was born in 1938, but as of the turn of the century was only in her late teens. This was explained by a childhood accident with the life-extending drug that allowed her parents to stay in their physical prime past their hundredth birthdays.) They even had the end of the world take place in 2004 — and the dates given in subsequent comics are usually earlier than that.
  • Ignored in Hellblazer, in which John Constantine's birthday (10 May 1953) has remained static over the years and he has aged realistically, with issues being set on his 35th and 40th birthdays. Likewise, his niece has grown from a ten-year-old girl into an adult, and his friend's granddaughter has aged from a baby into a young girl. This does cause problems when he interacts with DCU characters, such as at Hal Jordan's funeral or Green Arrow and Black Canary's wedding. There is also his relationship with DCU's Zatanna — when their past dating history was established, he was only a couple of years older than her, but as he aged while Zatanna didn't, their relationship looks more and more problematic with each passing year.
    • This is another reason why most Vertigo stories are not considered in-continuity with the regular DC Universe. See also Exiled from Continuity.
    • The New 52 reboot attempts to fix this by establishing two entirely different John Constantines. The older Constantine in the Hellblazer series firmly exists outside the DCU, while a younger version exists alongside Zatanna on the Justice League Dark.
      • Though Hellblazer has since been cancelled and replaced by a new book called Constantine, which features the younger version.
  • Glaringly obvious in Tintin. The hero remains a "Boy Reporter" from the 1920s to the 1970s, while all around him the world is changing, as shown by advancing technology and various Ripped from the Headlines plots. Members of the cast who arrived after the story started are likewise frozen in time.
  • Averted in Judge Dredd. The story has a 1:1 time-passage rate. Dredd really is thirty years older now than he was in the late 70s. Even all his treatments and cyborg implants have their limits. Dredd facing his old age, watching long-time supporting cast retire, and training the new generation of Judges is a major theme now.
  • Another exception: Virtually all comic book universes created by Jim Shooter. All stories that took place in The New Universe, Valiant Universe, Defiant Universe and Broadway Universe unfold in real time, and the characters aged accordingly. (unfortunately, only one of these got enough stories under its belt for this to have significant effects.)
  • Yet another exception: in Image's The Savage Dragon, where events have progressed and characters have aged in realtime since the series was launched in 1992. Creator Erik Larsen has said this makes crossovers with series that have Comic Book Time a brain-straining nightmare.
  • Runaways actually subverts this for other series. When the New Avengers did a guest spot, it was explicitly stated that Luke Cage fought Tombstone as Power Man three years earlier, and Spider-Man wore his black costume when Chase (who was nearing his eighteenth birthday) was in grade school.
    • However, it plays it straight for its own timeline; the series has been running since 2003, and only Chase and Molly have had birthdays, but the references to years keep changing.
  • Zot! plays with this by making the alternate Earth that the hero hails from stuck at 1965. Characters from the "real" Earth notice this oddity.
  • Completely inverted in Fables (possibly due to the characters being immortal). Some references to past events imply that, given the frequent timeskips in the storyline, events may be progressing twice as fast as real-time.
    • IIRC, one early arc had a character's recovery over a year happen in a single issue, yet some other story arcs will take place over as little time as a week. Fables seems to run on "whatever time is most convenient".
  • One of the problems with the sliding timescale results in a variant of Fad Super Syndrome. In Infinite Crisis, Black Lightning claims that he chose his name because, at the time, there were very few black superheroes. Which was true enough in the seventies, but by this point, he had to have gotten his start in the nineties with the rest of the DC crew. In fifteen years or so, he'll have chosen the name Black Lightning sometime around now.
  • Interestingly, Don Rosa and Carl Barks's Donald Duck universe has a static timeframe. That is, Scrooge McDuck was born in 1867, made his first dime in 1877, retired in 1942, met Donald in 1947, and died in 1967 at the age of 100. The stories take place in the late 40s and early 50s. All technological innovations get a Hand Wave as coming from the decades-ahead-of-the-times mind of Gyro Gearloose. Of course, under other authors, Comic Book Time still applies.
    • Not only does Rosa's timeline only apply to his own stories, it's also officially unacknowledged, and Rosa is forbidden from making specific references to this passage of time beyond subtle references and background details that will go unnoticed by most. The direct mentions of the years have only appeared in behind-the-scenes editorials in the trades reprinting his works, and the date of Scrooge's death only in a fanzine. Officially, the Donald universe operates in Comic book time, and anything going against this is simply considered fan theories by the editors.
    • Funny note here: due to the amount of stories produced per year, all by different countries, the Disney characters have actually had more Christmases, Halloweens, birthday, April Firsts, or whatever holidays more than actual years that have passed by. Donald has celebrated at least 200 Christmases.
  • So, which war/conflict was Iron Man injured in again to get his chest plate?
    • Rule of thumb for that: Whatever the big international crisis-point was 8 to 15 years ago (so currently it is generally regarded as the Middle East or Afghanistan).
  • Much like Dick Grayson, many sidekicks (and young superheroes) during The Golden Age of Comic Books aged visibly through the years while their mentors remained the same.
    • Black Terror's sidekick, Tim/Kid Terror, was eleven years old during his debut in 1941. By 1944 or so, he was increasingly depicted as a teenager. He was shown attending high school until his last Golden Age appearance.
    • Kitten, sidekick of the Cat-Man, was 11 at the time of her debut. She remained young for a while, but as years passed, artists started drawing her as a teenager more and more often (it wasn't terribly consistent) until they finally settled on a teenage look that lasted through last eight issues of Cat-Man Comics.
      • And appears in 1990s AC comics as an adult woman, married to Cat-Man (who gets disapproving looks from female heroes), and still shorter than average. It should be pointed out that, somewhere down the line, AC Comics decided to retcon Kitten's origin, stating that she was already an adult when she and Cat-Man met.
    • Airboy, young aviator hero who was 12 at the time of his 1942 debut, was one of the very rare early cases when a Golden Age comic book character that aged close to real time. He managed to last until 1953, so readers saw him growing up into a 20-something adult throughout the course of his run.
  • Averted in John Byrne's Superman & Batman: Generations series, which operated under the premise of "what if comic books followed real time from the beginning." Kal-El and Bruce Wayne make their heroic debuts in the 1930s, as in real life, but then proceed to age and have families, with their children taking up their respective heroic legacies. Eventually, the heroic lineage intersects when Kara Kent (Supergirl) and Bruce Wayne Jr. (Robin II/Batman III) are married.
  • The Invaders, a Marvel World War II-era superteam, were touched by Comic Book Time in an unusual way. Some of them, like Spitfire, aged in real time (only to be aged down again later), others were ageless (Human Torch was an android while Namor ages much slower than humans), others frozen (Captain America and Bucky), and a handful were just left to reach old age (Toro). However, look up how long Captain America was frozen for, and you'll find that the value has changed repeatedly, of course.
  • Averted in Astro City, where characters age in real time. However, any given story may be set in any time period, meaning that characters may still be used for how many stories their creator desires..
  • The Blackhawks, since their series continued without interruption until 1968, following a sliding timescale up until the 1970s, in which they operated as mercenaries in then modern times. Most subsequent revival published since the 1970s have appeared as period pieces set in the 1940s to the Vietnam War at the latest. Birds of Prey #75 revealed that almost all of the original Blackhawks have died.
  • Lampshaded in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman. During the Wake, we see Clark Kent, Batman, and J'onn J'onzz discussing their dreams. Clark mentions that he has a recurring dream where he gets infected with a virus that forces him to only move one direction through time.
  • Top Cow Universe seems to be heading in that direction. Originally, it stayed fairly close to real time. In the 2003 universe handbook (published on the tenth anniversary of the line's debut), most characters are given concrete, real-time birthdays and chronological references to past events that worked perfectly well if you assumed that their stories took place during the year they were published. In more recent stories, writers seemed to be backing away from that. While they do acknowledge that the characters have been around for a couple of years, they carefully avoid giving any exact dates. It's probably just as well - if the above-mentioned birthdays were still canon, the current Witchblade would have turned forty in 2010.
  • Doctor Yuriko Takiguchi, a Marvel Comics character that originally appeared in Godzilla comic, is an interesting exception. When he originally appeared, he was already a middle-aged man. When he reappeared in the Uncanny X-Men, he aged quite visibly, which would make sense of one was to assume that in Marvel continuity, Godzilla comics took place in the same time as they were printed (mid 1970s). The thing is, though, Godzilla comics took place in then-contemporary Marvel Universe, and many characters that age in Comic Book Time appeared in supporting roles. It's probably best not to think about it too much.
  • Invincible made a solid effort to avoid this, but realities of the genre (the whole "six months to publish one day's adventures" thing) and Schedule Slip have been hobbling it. So, on the one hand, the entire cast has visibly aged since the series started, and Mark started out as a high school senior and has graduated high school, gone to college for a while, dropped out, and gotten a job. On the other hand, it took him eight years to do all that. On the other other hand, the most recent arc (the Viltrumite War) has gone into accelerated time, with one issue taking place over the span of many, many months, so it's catching up a bit.
  • Someone mentioned that Wonder Woman "has lived among us for nearly a decade" in a comic from 2003, nearly six decades after Wonder Woman's real world debut.
  • Subverted with the Young Avengers, while the original artist Jim Cheung always drew the team as teenagers, the kids actually aged as the series continued. They started as 15-16 years old, by the time of The Children's Crusade they are in their 16-17 and new writer Kieron Gillen acknowledged in his formspring that the ages of the members in the new team (bar Kid Loki) are between 17-19, putting the original members in the 17-18 age (since Kate, Noh-Varr and America Chavez are acknowledged as the older ones in the team, the first two being stated as 21).
    • Kieron Gillen has mentioned that the passage of time is actually relevant. He compared the original series to high school, and the relaunch to post-graduation.
    • That said, the characters themselves are a massive Continuity Snarl when it comes to their ages. If Teddy was conceived during Captain Mar-Vell's brief time together with Princess Anelle, then he could have been born no later than 1973 unless Skrulls have a much longer gestation period. Regardless, Anelle was killed when Galactus devoured the Skrull throneworld in 1983. Meanwhile, his boyfriend Billy was born for the first time in 1986, and "died" in 1989. Allowing for some time spent dead and then experiencing Reincarnation, being born into a new biological family and growing into his teens so as to match Teddy's age when Young Avengers launched requires that Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome be added to the mix for both Billy and his twin Tommy.
  • The Defenders actually offered an in-universe explanation for Comic Book Time. A race of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens called the Omega manipulated the events leading to the creation of Earth's various superheroes, and it is heavily implied that they manipulate time as well to keep them ready to defend reality. The Silver Surfer flat-out says "They make time move differently for us."
  • Sort of used in Marvel's Transformers Generation 1 comics. The Transformers on the Ark awakened in 1984, and that date remained consistent for the entire run; thus, in issued printed in 1989, a couple of characters mention having been active for five years. Also, Simon Furman's future stories always take place exactly 20 years after the mainline stories; thus, the future segments of "Target: 2006" take place in 2006, while those of "Time Wars" take place in 2008. However, Buster and Jessie never seem to advance through high school, nor does Spike graduate from college. (Granted, these are very minor quibbles, but it's still noticeable).
  • Marvel's Power Pack are a particularly bizarre example. They started out as a group of kid heroes, all aged 8-11. Two of them remained kids, while Alex Power appeared to be about 18 in Fantastic Four, and Julie Power seemed like she was in her mid-twenties when she showed up in Runaways and The Loners. As a crowning absurdity, the Power Pack got a series of mini-series with the kids promptly brought back to their original ages.
    • These minis were later declared non-canon, and when Julie eventually joined the Avengers Academy, she once again looked to be in her late teens.
    • Meanwhile, her older brother Alex has become a member of the Future Foundation, but now appears to be about five years younger than her.
  • On the subject of Batman, this Shortpacked explores some of the consequences of Comic Book Time.
  • A short-term example happened for Daredevil during the Inferno Crisis Crossover: He gets beat up by an assembled gang of his enemies and dropped in a ditch during a Fourth of July parade. He gets out of that ditch and vaguely healthy again just in time for the Christmas issue, implicitly no more than a week or two later.
  • This gets really weird in the adventures of Douwe Dabbert. When Douwe is first introduced, he is a very old although surprisingly spry man. None of his adventures are explicitly dated and we are never told how much time passes between his adventures. Then, in one of his very last stories, he is reunited with Thorm, a character he met in his second adventure, and explicitly says that it has been twenty-two years since they last saw one another. This is possibly Lampshaded when he returns Thorm to the animal kingdom at the end of the story and remarks to the other animals that they haven't changed a bit. But wait, it gets stranger! Duting his travels, Douwe befriends a family of wizards, who recur throughout his adventures. The wizards are established to age very slowly. Pief, who looks and acts like a ten-year old boy, is Really 700 Years Old. But it is Pief who grows up during those twenty-two years. Compare his first appearance to his last and you will note that Pief now looks more like a teenager and acts much more maturely. All this while Douwe himself shows no signs of aging. (Although it is revealed in one of the stories that he has some wizard blood, so that might go part of the way...)
  • Dennis the Menace (UK): Dennis has been about 10 years old since he first appeared back in 1951. It's "about", because his physical appearance has changed repeatedly, getting sometimes taller and stockier like a teen, and sometimes smaller and more round-faced like a younger boy of 6 or 7 or so. However back in 1998, his mother got pregnant, carried a baby to term (his sister Bea), and little Bea was for several years a 2-year-old (and friends with 4yo pre-schooler Ivy the Terrible), while nobody else has aged one iota. Bea was retconned back to a baby when the 2009 CBBC cartoon started and the comic adopted its art style and continuity.
  • The Archie Comics main characters have been in high school for over sixty years.
    • Someone once wrote in to the Archie letters column demanding an explanation for this, theorizing that the characters must be really, really dumb if they can't graduate. Reggie Mantle (yes, the character) responded by explaining that he and the other characters had simply been stuck with eternal youth.
  • Cherry from Cherry Comics has always 'just turned 18'.
  • COMPLETELY averted with the modern day stories in Valiant Comics which had almost every single story set in the month it was published (the only exceptions being multi-issue stories which would take place somewhere in that time frame as well).
  • Justifiably averted for Doctor Strange, who met Death as part of his trials to become Sorcerer Supreme: the encounter locked him in the age he was when it happened (his mid-forties), where he has remained ever since.
  • Astérix and the other villagers have been the same age since their publication, and it's always the year 50 BCnote , despite not one, not two, but three comics dealing with different characters' birthdays (of which two were Obelix's). Justified as the comic book is set between the defeat of the Gauls at Alesia in 52 BC and the assassination of Caesar in 44 BC: only 8 years. If time passes, the status quo will be broken almost immediately.
    • This was lampshaded in The Golden Book, in which Goscinny decides to show what the Gaulish Village would look like if it really had aged 50 years.
    • The short story The Birth of Asterix shows Asterix and Obelix being born, while the other villagers are children. However, Getafix and Geriatrix are already old, thirty-five years before the adventures begin.
  • Powers rarely gives measurements of time passing. Walker and Pilgrim rarely look any different throughout the first volume, and except for Walker's retirement and Pilgrim's medical leave, there are no firm lengths of time given. Then by issue #1 of volume 2(the Legends arc), readers once again meet Callista, the little girl he helped rescue way back in issue #1. Turns out she's now working in a record store, and she states that it's been six years since she met Walker.
  • Captain America became a Human Popsicle in about 1945. He was unfrozen... about a decade ago, maybe? Note that this means that the time since he was first unfrozen in real life is now several times longer than the time he was originally frozen, and this will only get worse as time goes on.
  • Black Widow was Retconned into possessing slowed-aging because of this trope. It was getting increasingly harder to believe a youthful woman like her was a veteran of the Cold War, so the writers decided to get around this by effectively giving her eternal (or at least longer-lasting) youth.
  • The first arc of the New 52 Justice League title occurred five years ago, after which the title is set in the present day - but in the first issue after it, none of the subplots or characterisations appear to have changed at all despite five years elapsing between issues.
  • Buck Danny is perhaps the most glaring example in Franco-Belgian Comics: the main trio joined the Air Force in 1941 and haven't aged a day since. The only change is in rank, though Buck is stuck at colonel (any higher and he wouldn't be able to fly).
  • Most shared universes, particularly of the superhero variety, tend to use Comic Book Time, but there was one notable aversion to this trope with the Wildstorm universe, which (more or less) appeared to progress in real time. At least ever since Jenny Sparks died on panel at the end of the 20th century, which occurred at the end of 1999 in both real life and the WSU. Her successor, Jenny Quantum, was a baby one yer later, was 3 years old in 2003, etc. until 2007 when 7 year old Jenny artificially aged herself to a teenager. But during those 7 years, and most likely after though we couldn't use Jenny as a gauge anymore, the universe as a whole advanced in real time.
  • Jimmy Olsen is a unique case in the Superman cast. While most of the supporting characters are old enough that aging or deaging a few years doesn't noticeably affect how they look or their station in life, Jimmy ages between his mid to late teens where he's a "cub photographer" into his early 20s where he's usually a novice reporter and then snaps back into his late teens and being a photographer multiple times over the decades.
  • A somewhat similar thing happened to Supergirl. When she first appeared in 1959 she was explicitly 15 and aged at a slightly slower than real time rate throughout the Silver Age. She graduated high school in 1965 and graduated college in 1971, after which she became more or less 'fixed' as a young adult woman in her early 20s... until the start of the 1980s when she was inexplicably de-aged to about 19 so she could star in a college setting again.
  • In W.I.T.C.H., none of the characters (save for Will's brother, who started as newborn, then became a toddler) ever aged - the main team were still in 8th-9th grade after the comic had run for over a decade. Especially odd because we see them celebrating seasonal holidays on several occasions, implying at least some years have passed.
  • Amazing Spider-Man #36 (from late 2001/ early 2002 — not the one from the 60s) was a story that saw Spider-Man and the Marvel Universe deal with 9/11 and its immediate aftermath. Since the Marvel Universe is only about a decade old, it may no longer be in continuity.
  • Paperinik New Adventures makes a solid effort to avoid it, as the time seems to pass as much for them as for us: in "Phase Two" Two mentions that has been two years since his last fight with One, and in "Under a New Sun" Paperinik recalls that he first met Xadhoom "a few years ago".
  • Marvel's Legion of Monsters vol. 2 by Dennis Hopeless and Juan Doe decides to forgo comic book time and say Morbius the Living Vampire had been a vampire for years in 1973, even though he was only introduced a year and a half before that (in October 1971). If he was somewhere in his thirties when he was introduced, this means he should be at least in his seventies by 2014. However, Max Modell, a normal human man who was one of Morbius' old friends from college and should therefore be roughly the same age, looks to be somewhere in his 40s. Another comic introduces one of Morbius' old teachers, who looks to be about 50-60. Moreover, not only does it remove Morbius himself from Marvel's sliding timescale, but also everyone he met prior to that point, including Peter Parker, Curt Connors, and various X-Men. If Morbius ran into them all at some point before 1973 it means they all should have aged at least 40 years as well, but—of course—they haven't. And the only way to explain the "fact" that Morbius had been a vampire for years come 1973 is saying he must've become a vampire somewhere in the 1960s, which only serves to further enhance the problem.
  • The central conceit of the Marvel 100th Anniversary Specials, a series of one-shots published in 2014, supposedly from 2061. While normally Twenty Minutes into the Future comics feature successors to the current heroes, these ones take the view that in the comics Marvel actually publish a half-century from now, most characters will be basically the same age they are now.
  • The Mighty Avengers Original Sin crossover is a 1970s flashback based on the idea that in the current timeline, the Marvel Universe's Blaxploitation character was Luke Cage's dad.

    Anime and Manga 
  • The Pokémon Adaptations are all over the board on this; at least the ones running long enough to matter:
    • After over 15 years of Pokémon anime episodes, Ash Ketchum is (according to the official Japanese site) still 10 years old. On a 1:1 basis, he'd be 25 as of 2012. At an estimate, in order to still be 10 years old, out of over 700 episodes, he'd need to be going through at the very least 2-3 episodes every day. To make things even worse, in the dub, they've acknowledged that a year or more has passed more than once.note  Apparently, time passes but nobody ages.
      • And just to drive the point home, the dub has Meowth telling Dawn in their first meeting that "We've been chasing Pikachu since you've been alive." Given Team Rocket's status as local fourth-wall breakers who have explicitly referred to the show's staff in the past, Meowth's in a pretty good position to be referring to actual production time that nobody else in the cast would know about.
      • If you count the day/night cycles and sunrises/sunsets/moonrises/moonsets, you'll find that as of the end of Best Wishes, a total of 5 years, 7 months, and 14 days have passed since the first episode. Roughly 2,054 days. This is only about a year less than the Fanon convention of "One Year per League plus Half-a-Year for Filler Arcs".
    • The Pocket Monsters also uses Comic Book Time. The protagonists stay the same age no matter how long it is, with the protagonist going various regions with his taking Clefairy. It helps that this manga is unabashedly humor based; it also helps that it's not released in most of the West...
    • The Pokémon Special manga averts this trope. There are numerous timeskips, and save when characters are drawn chibi, every character ages correctly. They also tend to rotate main characters out when their respective games' plotlines are done; characters' reappearances usually correspond to Remakes of their respective generations.
      Of special note is Red. Like Ash, he starts his quest at the age of 10, but near the end of the FireRed/LeafGreen arc you can really appreciate that he is now 16. Really.
  • Detective Conan is a more extreme case, as it frequently references the current time of year, with some holidays celebrated more than once, yet after about two decades of episodes since 1994 (1996 for the anime), Conan is still in the first grade. This is necessary to the whole point of the series; if Conan aged in real time, he would be older than he was before the de-aging.
    • Wordof God even confirms that it is Comic Book Time. Most fans assume that only the episodes relevant to the main plot are actually happening, and maybe a few other episodes important to character development.
    • A clear example can be seen during the time Conan is investigating Eisuke Hondou. The "Shadow of the Black Organization" arc combines two cases that take place at New Years and Setsuban respectively, while his disappearance in the next plot arc happens at the end of December. The latter arc keeps things vague by referring to an event that happened a few hundred episodes before Eisuke Hondou even appeared as "several months ago".
  • While the first three shows in the Pretty Cure franchise aged characters in real time, Yes! Pretty Cure 5 has instead made use of Comic Book Time — all the characters are the same age now as they were in February 2007, despite clearly going through summer and Christmas. Part of this is may be because Karen and Komachi are in their last year of middle school.
    • HeartCatch Pretty Cure! also invokes Comic Book Time - despite going through an entire set of seasons as well as a Time Skip, Erika states that they were "14 year old beautiful super heroes"... before and after the time skip which included a birth.
  • Likewise, the Ouran High School Host Club anime has Honey alluding to graduating from high school next year. Since the manga is still ongoing, the author tells us not to worry about stuff like that.
    • The manga explicitly ignores the passage of time, except to give seasonal settings, keeping all the characters in the same year as when they started. However, it's been averted since they've finally graduated.
  • Serious discussion on whether the goddesses in Ah! My Goddess age mostly glosses over the fact that the manga has been running for 20 years; aside from Art Evolution and the characters learning and doing new things, nowhere near that much time has passed for them.
  • Lampshaded in One Piece's letter column, where the author explains that "The characters have their birthdays every year, but they turn the same age every time, those lucky bastards."
    • And yet somehow Coby became noticeably older when he reappeared. The author claimed he had a growth spurt.
    • Later comments made by the author indicate that they haven't gotten noticeably older simply because all the events of the series hadn't yet covered a year, making this more a case of Webcomic Time.
    • And then the Timeskip happened, and they actually got 2 years older.
  • Ranma ½ is a particularly nasty offender of the sliding timescale. When first introduced, the three Tendou sisters are stated to be 16, 17, and 19. Several seasons later, all characters looking exactly the same, it's stated that the characters are celebrating the three-year anniversary of the events of the first episode. THEN, in a later episode, the sisters' ages are listed once again as 16, 17, and 19.
  • Averted in Maison Ikkoku. While just about every other Takahashi series is entrenched in comic book time, this series follows real time exactly (aside from a few issues that leave off on a cliffhanger, which are made up next issue by having twice as much time pass).
    • Note that, despite this, nobody (save the two recurring children) visibly ages; however, this is most likely because all of the main characters (save the children) were in their early 20s to early 30s at the start of the series, and the series only ran seven years.
  • Averted and lampshaded in City Hunter, as people age and seasons go exactly in tune with the manga's release dates, and fourth wall jokes are made by the characters about how, in many mangas, people do not age, but "years are strictly counted in this one".
  • InuYasha ran from 1996-2008. Kagome was exactly fifteen in the first episode (it was her birthday). She hadn't quite hit sixteen when the next to last chapter was published, then there was a three year Time Skip to the last episode.
  • The Kimagure Orange Road anime fell prey to this. Kyosuke (and, by extension, since they shared the day, Hikaru) only ever got one birthday that we saw on-screen. And what year of life it was for them never actually got mentioned. This makes things a tiny bit jarring when we can see that time is definitely passing, but there weren't any real clues to which year of school they were currently in — and then we jump ahead in the first movie, to Kyosuke and Madoka's entrance exams for college...
  • From the passing of seasons, which are clearly marked, ARIA spans the better part of three Martian years, or five to six Earth years in the anime and manga, respectively. Yet Alice, who we first meet at 14 years old while attending middle school, doesn't graduate from it until five Earth years have passed. The other main characters also seem to have aged little — most noticeably, in the anime, Ai.
  • Each chapter of Yotsuba&! takes place on a specific date, which in 60 chapters has run from mid-July to mid-October. However, Word of God is that each chapter is set in the year it's published, which allows the author to keep technology and pop-culture references current, instead of stuck back in 2003 when he started.
  • In Fruits Basket in other people's flash backs the three oldest members of the juunishi, Hatori, Ayame and Shigure, have a tendency to look younger, but not young enough. Or, in the case of Hatori, doing things he shouldn't be able to at that age — he is apparently already a doctor when he erases Momiji's mother's memory. To be fair it's not clear how old Momiji is at the time (and he probably looks younger than he is), but he couldn't really be older than 5 (people leaving his mother having a breakdown for 5 years is pushing it). If Momiji is five then it makes Hatori 16...and already a qualified doctor and not aging all that much for 11 years until the series starts. Hmm....
    • In one of the fanbooks, it's made clear that Hatori was not yet a doctor at the time, and that while he also followed his father into medicine, the memory erasure is a separate ability also handed down in his family.
    • Notably, Hatori was in his school uniform when he erased Momiji's mother's memory, so he clearly wasn't a doctor yet.
  • Glass Mask. The (still ongoing) manga started in 1976, and was set in then-present day. In later volumes, we're told outright that a little more than seven in-universe years have passed since then; the characters age believably, and the technology level is entirely compatible with the mid-80s... except cell phones and the internet have been featured and discussed (as in, "in this day and age it's normal to talk to people you've never met over the internet").
  • From Eroica with Love embraces this trope fully.
  • Lupin III has been around since 1967, and none of the characters look any older. This is fine, since the franchise clearly runs on Negative Continuity, but Lupin's grandfather is still canonically Arsène Lupin. Who was born in 1874. Assuming an average of 45+ years between each generation of the Lupin dynasty isn't impossible (especially considering their reputations), but gets a little less probable with every passing year. This makes Arsene Sr a Refugee from Time.
    • The prequel series Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine has one episode that pretty clearly takes place during the Cold War, complete with all the anachronisms one would expect. While Negative Continuity is likely still in play for the franchise as a whole, this would make the timeline seem very odd if Fujiko were indeed meant to be chronicling the early years of the gang. Especially given that new Lupin specials (usually taking place in a modern setting) still debut every year.
  • Doraemon managed to outlive one of its creators, and yet poor Nobita and his friends are still in the fourth grade.
  • Crayon Shin Chan sadly also outlived his creator. To give an idea of how bad this series is with Comic Book Time: Shin-chan is 5 when the manga starts. His mother's friend Keiko marries, gets pregnant and has a baby. Later on Shin-chan's mom also gets pregnant and has a daughter, Himawari. Shin-chan's still five, and even better, the babies are the same age!
    • Even better, an episode parodying Back to the Future aired in 2010 claimed Shin-chan's parents met "8 years ago". When they travel back to said 8 years ago, it's 2002. Apparently Shin-chan was born in 2005, nearly a decade and a half after the series started.
  • Episode 7 of Daily Lives of High School Boys anime downright declares:
    Hidenori:Well, this anime is like Sazae-san. We'll always be in our second year of high school.
  • Averted in To Love-Ru. At least at first. The first 50 or so chapters equate to about a year, and charaters age and progess to their second year of high school. But afterwards, seasons begin to cycle and characters stop aging.
  • Golgo 13 has been active since the 1960s, but that doesn't stop him from shooting, screwing or looking like the 20 or 30-something he was when he started.

    Film 
  • Pierce Brosnan's role as James Bond continues from Timothy Dalton in a post-Cold War world, and yet GoldenEye, set six years after Licence to Kill has Bond at about the same age. Several films also reference Bond's loss of his love in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, back in the 1969. The original novels, published in The Fifties and early sixties, explicitly state that Bond was born in 1924.
  • X-Men: First Class is definitely marketed as a prequel to the original X-Men trilogy, but the timeline used in the film is very wonky. First Class takes place in 1962, which would put Xavier and Magneto in their 70s in the first movie (Patrick Stewart was only 60 when the first film was released, and Ian Mckellen was around the same age). It's best not to think about Beast's age, either.
    • In addition, in the first film Xavier states that he was seventeen when he first met Magneto, but in First Class he's clearly shown to have been alive in 1944, eighteen years before the two first meet. Though for the movieverse, a thing like that being only one year off is very good.
    • The real timeline buster is X-Men Origins: Wolverine. How about Emma Frost being younger there than in The Sixties? Even the permanent changes Days of Future Past caused can't make a woman born decades before the changes take hold thirty or so years younger than she should be.
  • Superman Returns is set "five years" after Superman II (1980), but a newspaper dated 2006 appears prominently.
    • Especially problematic thanks to the casting of Kate Bosworth who was 23 when the movie was released (22 during filming) and looked at least that young. She must have gotten a really early start at the Planet (and a really early start at some other things, considering the age of her son). Brandon Routh, 26 during filming was a little less noticeable. Jimmy Olsen looks older than Lois (and in fact Sam Huntington is about a year older than Bosworth), despite being about a decade younger in most continuities.
  • Averted in Godzilla; the Godzilla films actually do not follow a sliding timescale, since most human characters in the Showa and Heisei films who have returned were portrayed by the same people. Raymond Burr returned as Steve Martin in The Return Of Godzilla. Momoko Kouchi, who was also in the first film, reprised Emiko Yamane in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah in 1995, and Hiroshi Koizumi resumed the role of Professor Shin'ichi Chujo from Mothra (1961) (which did not actually feature Godzilla) in 2003's Godzilla Tokyo SOS The films have recast the Shobijin with younger actresses, however. Kenji Sahara played someone named Segawa in both Terror Of Mechagodzilla and his Heisei era films, but since Terror of Mechagodzilla does not form part of the continuity of the Heisei series, it is unclear whether it involves the same personage.
  • George Romero's zombie films depict the breakdown of society over a handful of years, but they reflect the wildly different times they were made in. Night of the Living Dead shows the zombie apocalypse beginning in 1968, while Dawn of the Dead begins a few weeks into the apocalypse despite obviously occurring in the late 1970s. Day of the Dead is perhaps a year or two into the apocalypse but is clearly set in the mid-1980s. Land of the Dead avoids the issue completely by simply making it clearly that a long, long time has passed, and the P.O.V. Sequel Diary of the Dead moves the events of Night to the late 2000s.
  • The third story of Trilogy of Terror 2 presumably picks up a few hours after the third story of the first film. The first film was from 1975 and the sequel was from 1996, and it's a bit hard to reconcile how different things look between the two films.
  • Tarzan underwent constant recasting, from Johnny Weismuller (who played Tarzan from 1932 to 1948) to Lex Barker and further (Mike Henry served as the last series Tarzan in theatrical film in 1968). Since Brenda Joyce stayed on as Jane from the last Weismuller film to at least the first Barker film, this represents a case of a sliding timescale.
    • It's most noticeable with their son Boy, who ages from infancy to childhood (about ten, in the movies) in the space of a cutscene, while his parents haven't aged a day.

    Literature 
  • Played with in Animorphs. Early books in the series had the Unreliable Narrators worry about how they would adapt in winter, which implies that their adventures are taking place in Comic Book Time prior to the first winter after receiving their powers. By the end of the series it turns out that It's Always Spring because of the setting, the worries about winter playing up the Literary Agent Hypothesis that they could not give away their location, and about three years pass from beginning to end of the series.
    • Especially hard to nail down timescales because they pointed out over and over that they were changing details so the Yeerks couldn't figure out who they really were. Maybe they were trudging through the snow when they said they were, maybe that's a lie to convince you they're in a colder climate than they are. Only the meat of the story is known to be true; some of the rest is known to be false.
  • Comic Book Time is remarkably common in mystery fiction.
    • Nero Wolfe appeared in over 30 novels and more short stories published between 1934 and 1975. Each story is set in the year it was written, but Wolfe, Archie, and the main supporting characters don't age, even though Archie celebrates more than one birthday.
      • The 2001 television adaptation A Nero Wolfe Mystery displays this quite clearly, as the stories weren't done in anything like chronological order. The brownstone never changes, but the minute Archie steps outside and walks down the street... The show's use of a regular group of actors for the minor characters also magnified the effect, as last week's flapper is this week's flower child.
      • It's not just that the episodes aren't in chronological order, it's that there's no chronology. The show takes place in a mash of the late 30s to early 60s, with the only consideration being what works for the plot and/or what looks best.
    • Hercule Poirot is introduced shortly after World War I as a retired policeman. By the 1960s, although he has taken to dyeing his moustache, he still doesn't appear to be much over sixty. Similarly, Miss Marple, originally presented as a subversion of the "Victorian Aunt" stereotype in 1920s fiction, is described as having had a Victorian Aunt of her own in At Bertram's Hotel (published 1965). Each series ends with one novel in which the protagonist has aged and in fact Poirot dies in his novel; both books were written during the Blitz and were originally intended to finish the series if Christie was killed. They were instead published in the 1970s as is, which makes them somewhat anachronistic.
    • Jim Qwilleran of the Cat Who novels is 46 years old in the first novel, written and set in 1966. He's 50 years old in the last novel, written and set in 2007.
    • Robert Parker's famous PI Spenser fought in Korea and fought Jersey Joe Walcott in the fifties. He's still in business and in something of his physical prime. While Parker allows Spenser to age, he's taken on something of a "timeless" quality as a character.
    • Not only does Mike Hammer not age from 1947's I, the Jury to 1997's Black Alley, New York City doesn't age either.
    • Ellery Queen goes through numerous changes during his run, but he stays at about the same age from 1929 to 1971.
    • Dalziel and Pascoe, who debuted in the days when men walked on the moon, are still in harness and haven't aged nearly as much as the elapsed time would suggest. When the series reached its 20th year, Reginald Hill wrote a brief essay on the issue, noting that if they kept it up the two detectives would still be on the job when men walked on the moon again — and published it as the foreword of a story, "One Small Step", depicting just that.
  • The first of the Young Wizards books by Diane Duane' book was published in 1983, and the most recent in 2005, but only a couple years have passed for the characters. Despite this, each book takes place in approximately the year it was released. The usual fan response to questions about this is "Just go with it." Diane Duane has released new Millennium Editions of the series in order to update them, especially the earlier ones. The old editions remain available in the major on-line bookstores, and as "International Editions" on Duane's own e-book store. As it stands, "You don't even have a colour TV!" was changed to "widescreen TV" (or possibly "cable TV"?) in later printings.
    • One of the books actually contain an author's note to this effect, basically shrugging and admitting it's easier that way. The books are good enough that most readers are willing to roll with it, though the impetus behind the New Millennium Editions was that an increasing number of new readers weren't.
  • Antonia Forest's "Marlow" books (published between 1948 and 1982) featured schoolgirl characters, who only aged a few years throughout the series, experiencing post-war rationing, colour TV and punk-style make-up. Her comment in an interview was similar to that of the Young Wizards author Diane Duane: setting the books in a consistent timeline would be more work for her and irritating for the readers.
  • William Brown of Just William is always eleven. He was eleven in the early stories between the wars. He was eleven during the stories set in World War II. In one, he says, "Mother, I don't seem to remember when there wasn't a war on." His mother replies, "Don't be silly, William, the war's been going on two years and you're eleven now." He was eleven when he celebrated V-E day. He was eleven when he tried to copy the pop stars he'd seen on colour TV.
  • Sweet Valley High and Sweet Valley Twins are known for doing this.
  • This was retro-fitted into The Boxcar Children series. In the original 19 books by Gertrude Chandler Warner, the series took place in the 1930s — and the Alden children have aged several years. When the series has been picked up again, the Alden children went back to their original ages, and the series was set in the modern era.
  • In the Babysitters Club books, the characters started the series at the end of seventh grade and moved to eighth, but stayed there for the rest of the series, leading some to suspect the author originally intended to age the characters but didn't once the series proved to be so popular. Similarly, the books originally covered a month each while being published once a month, but later moved to covering only a week each.
  • Beverly Cleary's books tend to take place around the time they were written, so Ramona Quimby goes from being 4 or 5 in the 1950s to just turning ten in the 1990s. In Ramona and Beezus (1955), she is 4; in Ramona the Pest (1968), she is 5; in Ramona the Brave (1975), she is 6; in both Ramona and Her Father (1977) and Ramona and Her Mother (1979), he is 7; in Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (1981), she is, um, 8, and stays that way in Ramona Forever (1984); and in Ramona's World (1999), she starts out 9 and turns 10.
  • Characters aged similarly in Judy Blume's Fudge books, though later editions of Superfudge changed a few details to catch up with the times: Fudge watches Cartoon Network instead of The Electric Company, and Peter asks for a laptop instead of a pocket calculator for Christmas.
  • The Judy Moody series plays this trope straight. Although many assume all the books could take place in one year, the recent book Judy Moody: Girl Detective is stated to take place the October after the Christmas Special book Judy Moody and Stink: The Holly Joliday. Although there should have been a summer vacation (and a change in grades) between those books, both books (and all the other books) show Judy as being in the third grade and aged eight.
  • It looks like the recently revived Goosebumps series is heading this route too. A few protagonists from earlier books have appeared, all still the same age as they were over ten years ago in real time.
  • The original editions of the first few The Bobbsey Twins books took place in a clear timeline that affected the characters. The first book took place over most of a school year, with the older twins eight years old at the beginning and the younger twins four. The second book was set in the first half of the summer, the third tied up some plot threads from the second, and the fourth opened the following autumn, with the older twins "nearly nine" and the younger set "almost five". Then someone at the Stratemeyer Syndicate apparently realized that the characters would soon age beyond their readership; so in short order Nan and Bert aged to twelve and stayed there, with Freddie and Flossie stuck at six.
  • Similarly, Nancy Drew appears to have solved most of her seventy-three original mysteries the year she was sixteen years old.
    • This was even more weird in the 80s-90s updated series The Nancy Drew Files, in which Nancy was 18 (as in the revised editions of the original series). With the modern setting, it becomes increasingly unconvincing that the bright daughter of a lawyer wouldn't be either working or at college.
      • And in the games. Time passes, as made clear by calenders with dates spotted in the games, along with various references to recent events in history (such as the revelation that Pluto is no longer a planet), yet Nancy is still referred to as a "silly American teenager" by game 18.
  • Archer Mayor's Joe Gunther is a Korean War vet; the novels are always set in The Present Day, making him at least 75 years old and still a working detective for a state police agency. Mayor's website gleefully lampshades this:
    Joe Gunther, who has the additional affliction of being arrested in time (please, no puns.) Having lived a full and interesting life, and achieved a position, both physically and emotionally, in which he is relatively comfortable, he has stopped the clock, and ages no more. As a man in his early to mid-fifties, therefore, and yet as a veteran of the Korean War, we all have to simply take for granted that when he was a combatant, he wasn’t three years old.
    Okay. So much for self-serving excuses. Without further ado, and with as little specificity as I can escape with, here is Joe’s story as I presently recall it.
  • One of Kim Newman's short stories, "Coastal City", featured a Commissioner Gordon-like character for heroine "Amazon Girl", on the edge of noticing that, among other paradoxes created by the sliding timescale of the universe he lives in, his war-hero past was being repeatedly updated, shifting from World War II to The Korean War, The Vietnam War, and now the Gulf War. Fortunately for him, a fresh crisis distracted him from the potential existential breakdown.
  • Leslie Charteris' The Saint has flitted back and forth in print between period pieces and a sliding timescale. In the introduction for Catch the Saint, published in 1975, Charteris notes that these stories took place before 1939, since "literary detectives sharper than Inspector Teal" would realize that, based on topical references in earlier adventures, the Saint would have grown too old to fight crime, and only a rejuvenation out of science fiction could deal with this situation. (While some Saint stories did feature the paranormal, which later collection in the anthology the Fantastic Saint, Charteris declined to pursue such an approach for the Saint's aging.) However, later books did not follow this trend. In 1997, Burl Barer wrote a new Saint novel that, in his blog, Barer stated took place in contemporary times. Viola Inselheim, a young child in 1934's The Saint in New York, has aged to adulthood in Capture the Saint, but Barer otherwise sidesteps the issue of time. Film and TV versions of the Saint have never gotten down as period pieces. The Roger Moore version took place in the then-contemporary 1960s. Post-Roger Moore TV versions such as those with Simon Dutton, Andrew Clarke, and Ian Ogilvy also eschewed the period piece approach. The 1997 Val Kilmer film, though released almost 70 years since the Saint's first appearance in print in 1928, took place in then contemporary times, if not the future. (In the director's commentary, Philip Noyce noted that he tried to extrapolate and anticipate developments in Russia. This was reasonably successful, as a plot point in that film involved heating oil shortages.)
  • P. G. Wodehouse wrote stories about Jeeves and Wooster and Blandings Castle from the 1910s to the 1970s. The characters don't seem to age, although it's hard to specify the time period the novels are set. There are generally a few references in each novel to new technology or cultural events in the time period it was written, but otherwise the setting remains in a fantasy (in the sense of "the world never existed this way", not in the wizards-and-unicorns sense) version of Edwardian England. For example, one of the very late books (published in the 1970s) has Bertie complaining about anti-war demonstrators causing traffic congestion.
  • The Dresden Files averts this trope for the most part, with each novel being set just at about the same time as it was written, and Harry making several references to how he's not as young as he was in the first book. However, Harry's young apprentice Molly somehow managed to have two birthdays (going from 17 to 19) in the ten-month interim between Proven Guilty and White Night. Chalk it up to Writers Cannot Do Math.
  • The Executioner action-adventure series was created by Don Pendleton in 1969, and after being purchased by Gold Eagle is still going strong. The series starts with the protagonist Mack Bolan as a Vietnam veteran (early novels even mention service in the Korean War), a fact that's not even mentioned now as it would make Bolan seem too old.
  • Averted in the Honor Harrington series. Characters age as the books cover about 30 years of conflict. However due to quasi-magical 'prolong' therapy, the vast majority of characters will live for about 300 years and be at peak physical state for most of that.
  • The 87th Precinct series started in the 1950s and continued for over forty years. In a clear sign of a sliding timescale, the children of the police officers never grew up, with references to their ages not lining up to the amount of publishing time between entries in the series.
  • Some Spider novels from the 1930s and 1940s appeared in redacted versions in the 1970s, with Wentworth's military service changed from World War I to the Korean War. Another redaction; a collapsing building in The City Destroyers called the Sky Building replaced by the World Trade Center.
  • Richard Stark's Parker initially did not require a sliding timescale. Parker's series initially ran only eleven years, from 1963 to 1974. Westlake did not revisit Parker for another twenty plus years, till the second wave from 1997 to 2008. In The Outfit Parker states that he had been in the Army from 1942 to 1944. In The Outfit Parker also does state he had already been a thief for 18 years, and refers to a heist he committed in 1949.
  • Mary Stolz did it with her three Barkham Street books. In A Dog on Barkham Street (1960) Edward asks his dad if he could get transferred to Alaska, now that it's a state. The Explorer of Barkham Street (1985) is supposed to take place about a year later, but Martin reads his library book through a M*A*S*H rerun.
  • In The Fine Art of Murder, on page 214-215, Ed McBain admits to using the sliding timescale. In the section "On the Eternal Youth Syndrome", he says "I think I am going to have to inch Carella's kids toward puberty. That was a conscious decision I had to make a while back, to freeze the ages of the characters". McBain admits to having read comic strips when younger, noting that he had read Gasoline Alley (no sliding timescale), Little Orphan Annie (sliding timescale), and Terry and the Pirates (McBain recalls "little Terry grows up and has an affair with the Dragon Lady"). "The detectives in my books were originally veterans of World War II, or later the Korean War, but that got awkward later on. I tried to put that all to rest in one of the books by saying "Every male of age in America is a veteran of one war or the other". Now I just say "He was in the war". Maybe soon people will think of that made-for-television war-Desert Storm".
  • Repairman Jack follows a sliding timescale. F. Paul Wilson only wrote two novels about Repairman Jack before 1998; 1984's The Tomb and 1992's Nightworld. When Wilson wrote Legacies in 1998, he decided to have it as the start of a series of novels about Repairman Jack, and set it just after The Tomb. However, to do so, he decided that the amount of time since Jack's first appearance in 1984's The Tomb would serve as a constant snag, so he rewrote The Tomb to update various topical references. In the 2000 novel All The Rage, on page 82, Jack notes, when someone says he cannot operate as a mercenary for much longer, "I'm thinking maybe four or five more years and I'm out. I'll be forty then", and he says at age he would not feel sure of himself in combat. That places Jack as 35-36 in the present day of All The Rage, which would make him roughly nineteen in 1984, probably a tad too young for the way The Tomb presents him. Wilson notes that Legacies and subsequent Repairman Jack novels will serve as interquels between The Tomb and Nightworld.
  • In Harry Dickson's Adventures, the titular hero and his young sidekick have lived over 100 adventures, covering, it seems, the late Twenties and the Thirties. However, the hero is always described as being in his late forties, and his assistant as being a young, hot-headed, immature young man.
  • Sexton Blake's adventures ran from the 1890s to the 1970s. They feature the usual signs of the sliding timescale, particularly due to the presence of Tinker, Blake's younger sidekick.
  • Possibly averted to a degree by Nick Carter, which ran from 1886 to 1990, as the Nick Carter of 1964 to 1990 referred to himself as Nick Carter III, suggesting him as the grandson of the 1880's Nick Carter.
  • Most of the "pulp heroes" such as the Shadow, the Spider, Doc Savage, etc. did not run into this, as few of them lasted in the 1950s (though the Black Bat and the Phantom [Curtis Van Loan] did, and the Black Bat returned for 700 adventures in Germany). However, in the 1960s, Walter Gibson wrote The Return of the Shadow, and Dennis Lynds continued from there with stories of the Shadow set in contemporary times.
  • John Putnam Thatcher, protagonist of Emma Lathen's mystery novels, spends the entire series (from 1961 to 1997) "a youthful 60". Slightly averted with recurring character Kenneth Nicholls — while he doesn't appear to age and remains a junior trust officer, he goes from single to married with two kids.
  • The Alex Rider books supposedly take place over the course of a year (if that), but technology has kept pace with reality. Alex's gadgets are the most obvious example - in early books, they were hidden in Game Boys or a copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but they've since moved on to iPods.
    • Anthony Horowitz is fond of this; the first Diamond Brothers book came out in the eighties, while a later book features the London Eye and is stated to be set in 2004.
  • Madeleine L'Engle appears to have scrambled her own timeline in her "Chronos" books. The original edition of Meet the Austins (1960) was five chapters long: the sixth chapter, "The Anti-Muffins", was removed at her publisher's request for length. The action in Meet the Austins is not specifically dated, but its direct sequel, The Moon by Night (1963), is very definitely set in 1959: Vicky goes to see West Side Story, her father mentions having met Princess Grace "back when she was plain Grace Kelly", and the family are in the Hebgen Lake earthquake. "The Anti-Muffins" was published separately in 1980, and has been included in the text of all printings of Meet the Austins since 1997: it includes a mention of the Kenny Rogers song 1978 "The Gambler". (Not to mention the hobbyist-spacesuit reference buried at the beginning of Meet the Austins, which sounds like a nod to Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. L'Engle justified this in a letter by noting that she was more interested in kairos, the "appropriate time," than in chronos, rigorous clock time.)
  • The books in the Mrs. Murphy Mysteries series by Rita Mae Brown follow the seasons.
  • Patrick O'Brien did this for the Aubrey-Maturin series: around book nine or so, he encountered the problem of running out of Napoleonic War years. To get around it he had to fudge an "1812a or 1812b" to allow for the long sea voyages. Since he's pretty meticulous about Doing The Research, he admits this fact in the forewords of the books affected. Because he's so good, almost everybody forgives him.
  • Averted in Ephraim Kishon's satirical short stories. We see Kishon's kids age in Real Time, from toddlers to teenagers.
  • The Wheelof Time books employ this as well, two winters are specifically mentioned as happening. Rendering the main cast, who were just coming of age presumably 16-20, young adults. However the Eye of the World was published in 1990. The final book came out in January of 2013. These characters aged two years in the space of 23.
  • Junie B. Jones was created in 1992. From 1992 to 2001 she was a kindergartner, with everything else taking place in first grade. It doesn't seem like she'll ever become a second grader. A book released in 2009 states the title characters mother was a first grader in 1983 to 1984, despite the fact that she should have been a first grader in The Seventies or even The Sixties if the series still took place in The Nineties.
  • The first book in The House of Night is implied to take place in 2007, by Zoey's mention of having gone to see 300 with her friends. Each book takes place over at most about 2 weeks, which would place the most recent book in 2008 at the latest. However, the books often mention pop culture popular at the time the book was published, such as Game of Thrones in Destined.

    Live Action TV 
  • Inverted in Heroes. The first four seasons have taken place over about a year in-universe, but Product Placement marches ever on so characters have lots of gadgets and cars that weren't out in late 2007 (Although they managed to almost avoid it with a reference to Guitar Hero 3 instead of 5, although they were still off by about a month). More explicitly, the fourth season/fifth volume says season one happened three years ago even though all the time that's passed up would be about 11 months since the beginning of the series.
  • Greek, when it's all said and done, will cover the time between Rusty's enrollment at college to his sister Casey's graduation in about 3 1/2 years (the span is actually about 2 years, as Rusty enrolled at the start of Casey's junior year.) It helps that It's Always Spring in the Ohio of the Greek world...
  • iCarly averted this in the first and second seasons, with them clearly moving up a grade, as well as the cast clearly entering puberty and growing up. They also explained how their school was a combined Middle and High school as they moved to a grade, that in almost all US education systems, means moving from a Junior or Middle school to a new High School.
    • After season 2 however, it gets hazy. It's likely they are now in grade 10, but it's possible they could still be in grade 9, or have moved ahead to grade 11.
  • In M*A*S*H, which ran from 1972 to 1983, the series lasts longer than the actual war, which started 25 June 1950 and was paused on 27 July 1953. Also, in the series, if one uses the few references to the actual war, the first three seasons must take place over a few months, although Hawkeye mentions several times they've been there for years (1-2). This is using the involvement of the Chinese in the war starting on 2 October 1950, which started in the fourth season, and Hawkeye's statement that he lived with Trapper for "over a year" at the beginning of season four when Trapper left. There are many other time issues, such as the Battle of Pusan Perimeter, where Hawkeye and BJ are surprised to hear a replacement surgeon's experience was in that battle and they say they heard "horror stories" about it, when in reality, that battle took place August-September 1950. Also, the fact that the MASH rarely moves, and seems to be located quite close to the 38th, we can only conclude that MASH 4077 is in a time displacement bubble, immune from outside influence. Using this, we can conclude that the MASH 4077 only existed for a few days, as it must have been after the Battle of Pusan which ended in September 1950, and it went through three seasons before the involvement of the Chinese, which started in the beginning of October 1950. It gets even more confusing if you recall what happened during the first three seasons. They experience at least one winter, one spring, a Christmas, an Orthodox Easter, and an Army-Navy game (which normally occurs in late November or early December). No less than three children of American soldiers and Korean women are born, all presumably at least 5 months premature.
  • Breaking Bad teeters on the edge of this. In the fourth episode of the fifth season it is confirmed that it has been one full year since Walter was diagnosed with cancer. This would mean that Walter starting to cook meth with Jesse, Walter meeting Tuco, Tuco hiring Walter, Hank killing Tuco, Hank getting a promotion and going to El Paso and deciding to leave that job, Walter meeting Saul, Saul introducing him to Gus Fring, Walter's daughter being born, Fring hiring Walter, Walter causing a plane crash indirectly, Hank beating the hell out Jesse, Hank getting shot, Hank recovering, Hank getting a promotion despite his earlier bad behavior, Gus killing the entire Mexican Cartel leadership, Walter killing Fring and destroying his empire, Walt,Jesse and Mike starting a new partnership, Mike's share being bought out by Declan who is now Walter's employer and Mike getting killed by Walter all happened over the course of one year along with many other events. It's possible and the show's episodes and seasons due tend to flow directly into one another creating a somewhat shorter timeline but it also gives you a headache trying to reconcile that timetable with all these events AND how much Walter has changed from the pilot till now.
    • More explicitly, in Season 2 there's a reference to the Phoenix lander recently finding water on Mars (2008), but in a Season 5 episode there's a reference to Bin Laden's death (2011).
  • Despite being a Superman show, most of Smallville is assumed to have taken place at the same time the episode aired (save a couple of Continuity Snarls like Chloe's birthday).
  • Sesame Street has a sliding timeline. For example a 2006 episode had Bob introducing his deaf niece to two characters and teaching them about deafness despite the fact that they had previously known a deaf character, Linda. There was also a season 35 showing three characters as teenagers in The Seventies when they were all adults when the show began.
    • As mentioned on the Not Allowed to Grow Up page, human characters age but Muppets stay the same unless a plot point is needed. It's especially noticeable in a wedding anniversary episode where Elmo speaks as if he wasn't at the wedding, but in the actual episode he's clearly in the scene.
  • Misfits was shown across five series (2009-2013) but the in-universe passage of time is just over a year. The first anniversary of the freak electrical storm that imbues them with superpowers is marked in the penultimate episode.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Characters from Calvin and Hobbes never age, although years are quoted, and Calvin frequently compares his summer vacations and Christmases to prior ones. In one late strip, Calvin tells his perpetual classmate Susie that her treatment of schoolwork as "fun" is one of the "ten signs of hopeless dweebism", to which she replies "I bet another is moving to the next grade each year." It gets Lampshaded in another strip where Calvin's dad says "Yeah, I know, it feels like you're going to be six forever."
    • In an early strip, Calvin specifically mentions the year being 1986.
  • Garfield has a strange zig-zagging of this. Garfield's 'birthday' is celebrated every year and he constantly complains about getting old... but none of the characters ever age physically. Also, Garfield is stated to be as old as the strip itself, even though he's already an adult cat in his first appearance.
  • This happens in pretty much every newspaper strip, including most of the serious, "soap opera" ones, so listing exceptions is probably a better idea.
  • The storyline of For Better or for Worse ran in real time from its inception to 2008. Then it rebooted to the early days, using a combination of reruns, modified reruns, and new strips drawn to look like the old ones. Word on the street is that this was the syndicate's idea.
    • This was alluded to in a post-9/11 episode of FoxTrot (which rigidly enforces this trope) when Jason found out that his father—afraid of needles (and of most things)—just gave blood.
    Mom: Sometimes we have to grow up, kiddo.
    Jason: Whoa. Did I just stumble into For Better Or For Worse?
    Mom: You can stay 10, sweetie. I don't mind.
  • Cathy more or less has operated in real-time. Irving, for example, has slowly gotten balder. Justified in that the main character is an Author Avatar for Cathy Guisewhite.
  • Gasoline Alley, one of the oldest strips still in existence, also operates in real time (though temporarily halted and then restarted); old characters die off eventually, including the family dog and many of the original characters from the Alley. Walt Wallet is still hanging on, though, and the fact that he is now technically over 120 means that things are getting fudged.
  • Baby Blues has a slowly sliding timeline: Zoe started out as an infant and grew into a toddler as the need for new material arose. Since then, she has been given siblings as necessary to keep the strip's title accurate. Zoe is around 10 years old now (born in the January 7, 1990 strip), Hammie is around 7-8 (born in the April 29, 1995 strip), and Wren is 1 year old (born in the October 26, 2002 strip).
    • Wanda's pregnancies have both taken place in real time, however, without any noticeable aging from the other siblings occurring in the meantime.
    • Kirkman and Scott state that they age around a "Three to one Ratio".
      • It was two to one during Zoe's infancy; apparently having to siblings means simply a lot more storylines to deal with. They've also stated on record that "your children are always your babies" and the title has nothing to do with Wren's slow development.
  • First played straight and then averted with Doonesbury. From 1970 to 1983 the characters were always college students. Then the creator took a hiatus, improved his drawing style, and produced a play in which the characters finally graduate. Since then they have grown up in real time, and the original characters are now all middle aged. Oddly, this doesn't apply to Duke, who appeared to be in his forties when introduced over thirty years ago and still does.
    • According to the Word of God, Uncle Duke isn't a normal person. His age was unknown when he was introduced and remains so to this day.
  • JumpStart follows a similar formula.
  • Luann & company have been in high school since 1985, approximately twenty-eight years.
    • Brad has since graduated high school and become a fireman, and Luann is now in high school, but this seems to be a case of a sudden one-time jump in the timeline about 10 years ago, combined with updated looks for the characters, which apparently pushed the non-adults forward about 4 years, but since then they've stopped aging again.
  • Many of the characters in Peanuts aged somewhat since their introduction. Schroeder and Lucy started out as toddlers, then grew to Charlie Brown's age; Lucy's "baby brother" Linus grew to one or two grades below Charlie Brown (and has been seen in the same classroom as him on occasion). Sally also started as a baby and later caught up to Linus. Rerun also was born during the strip's run and ended up as a toddler. Charlie Brown himself also aged somewhat over the course of the strip; he stated that he was four in an 1950 strip, six in an 1957 one, and eight and a half in an 1979 one.
  • Funky Winkerbean started off this way. The comic began in 1972 and the characters remained in high school for the first 20 years of the comic's existence. Then, in 1992, it was established that the characters had graduated high school in 1988, and the comic picked up in real time from just after their college days. In October of 2007, there was another Time Skip, and the comic is now presumably taking place about 9 years into the future (The Other Wiki says that the original main characters were to be 46 years old after the time skip, and based on graduating in 1988, they probably would've been born during the '69-'70 school year and should therefore have only been 37 just before the time skip.) So far, it's been impossible to tell the difference between the two eras. (It's not clear whether the current setting is circa 2020, or the pre-Time Skip era has been retconned back 10 years, keeping the strip in the present day.)
  • Long-running Scottish comics The Broons and Oor Wullie both make heavy use of this, having kept all characters at identical ages since they were first published in the 1930s. While the setting progressed around the characters for the first few decades, the comics seem to have settled into a sort of temporal limbo that darts back and forth between the 1950s and the present day at will, shifting from a "present day" setting to a nostalgic yet nonspecific "good old days" one.
  • Dykes To Watch Out For is another exception: the story is set in the present day with constant references to topical events, and characters, both adults and children, have aged at pretty much chronologically accurate rates. The few exceptions, for a long time, included Mo's cats, who'd survived the strip's entire 20-plus year run; however, in the last year or two of the strip's run, they were shown increasingly frail and one of them finally died.
  • Dick Tracy's strip acknowledges his wartime activities against spies such as Pruneface without dealing with the question of why Tracy still works as a policeman decades later. For example, Max Allan Collins wrote a storyline (later collected by Ken Pierce books as Tracy's Wartime Memories) to a hitherto untold story where Tracy battled Flattop, Shaky and Mr. and Mrs. Pruneface during World War II. Tracy appears in the modern era looking the same, while characters who appeared in the flashback story having aged decades. (Flattop stayed dead, as did Mrs. Pruneface, but Pruneface underwent revival from his hypothermic death due to the efforts of a sympathizer to the Third Reich.) Some of Tracy's children have visibly grown. In July of 2009 he visited his daughter Bonnie Braids. Sparkle Plenty has also grown into adulthood.
  • The characters in Heart of the City don't age, but their pop-culture references remain current. In 1998, Heart was an elementary-age girl swooning over Leonardo DiCaprio; by 2008, Heart was an elementary-age girl swooning over The Jonas Brothers. Also worth a mention is the fact that Heart and Dean have a new school teacher every year despite not getting older.
  • Little Nemo would actually lampshade this from time to time. It was a once a week strip, and a lot of times when a plot was taking too long a character would complain about it seeming to take weeks.
  • Heavily lampshaded in long-running British strip The Perishers, where one of the titular kids noticed that they never seemed to get any older from year to year and concluded that "something funny's going on!"
  • Recently, Big Nate had this bit of Lampshade Hanging:
    Nate's Gram: Nate, we're really looking forward to Grandparents Day at your school!
    Nate: Yeah, but why? I mean, when I'm eighty, I'm not going to want to hang out at a middle school!
    Nate's Gramps: Son, from what I hear, when you're eighty, you might still be in middle school!
    Nate's Gram: Oh, Vern! Honestly!
  • Beetle Bailey: Current events form a vaguely acknowledged background for what's going on (with the exception that the strip is always about peacetime army even if there is a war going on), but if anyone really ages (which has happened to about two characters, Ms. Blip and General Halftrack), it's more of a Retcon reimagining their character concepts than anything else.
  • Lampshaded in Sally Forth (June 26, 2014): "It doesn't feel like people ever age around here. It's like a "Twilight Zone" episode but with wi-fi."

    Radio 
  • The writers of Adventures in Odyssey have openly admitted that the passage of time in Odyssey doesn't really make sense. The best known-example is how Connie was sixteen for an extraordinarily long time, which they didn't hesitate to poke fun at, although she gradually made it to twenty-ish. Meanwhile, Whit, Eugene, and assorted kids have all aged at different rates.
  • The original two series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy were broadcast from 1978 - 1980, and were intended as a contemporary piece. While the narrative quickly left Earth and there is not much to date the series, it can still be a bit jarring when the later three series, produced in 2003 and 2004, have scenes on or in reference to Earth that make more modern cultural references, or include as common technology things that would not yet have been common or even have existed. Of course, when dealing with possibilities such as different versions of Earth existing across multiple planes of reality, one supposes that such things may be relative.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Specifically subverted in the Spanish role-playing game {{Superhéroes, Inc.}} Rules are provided so that experimented super-PC's lose points everywhere (probably to avoid Godmodding), so that he should consider retirement and replacement.
  • Furthermore, depending on your group and how your GM handles time, it can lead to some problems when the characters seemed to have gone from low-level n00bs to walking gods without aging a single bit.
    • Although, in Dungeons and Dragons at least, a party that gets four level appropriate encounters a day every day will go from level 1 to 20 in about six months.

    Toys 
  • BIONICLE averts this by having a story that progresses much slower than real-world time. Although the storyline started about a decade ago, in-universe, only one year and a couple of months have passed, no matter how many wild adventures the characters have gone through or how many world-changing events have happened since then. Also, even the mostly organic characters don't seem to age, at least physically.

    Video Games 
  • In the Street Fighter II series, all the main fighters were given dates of birth and ages that coincided with the release of each installment. Cammy, for example, whose date of birth was originally January 6, 1974, is said to be 19 in Super Street Fighter II, which was released in 1993. Once Street Fighter Alpha came, Capcom started using vaguer dates. Sakura's date of birth is given as March 15, 197X, placing the events of the Alpha series (where Sakura is a 15 year old high school student) somewhere between as early as 1985 or as late as 1994. The Street Fighter III series had no dates of birth for any of the new characters and whenever the year that the series takes place is mentioned, it's always "199X" and never a specific year. By the time Street Fighter IV came out, the dates of the birth for returning characters have the years omitted and most of the characters are seen using relatively modern computers and cellphones from the late 2000s.
  • Subversion: the Sega CD version of the original Final Fight, Final Fight CD, changed the game's setting from 1989 to 1992. However, instead of changing the characters' birthdates to match their ages in the original arcade version, they simply aged the characters accordingly by three years (Cody's age was changed from 22 to 25; Haggar's was changed from 46 to 49; and Guy's was changed from 24 to 27).
    • In the Japanese version of Final Fight 2, Haggar's age is 50, four years older than he was in the first game. For some reason, the American version changed it back to his age in the original game (46).
  • All the characters in The King of Fighters series have remained the same age since KOF '95, even though each game is supposedly set a year after the previous one. Oddly enough, the only other game where the characters were allowed to be aged by one year was in KOF EX, an Alternate Continuity Gaiden Game set after the events of KOF '97. In contrast, the Fatal Fury series from which KOF originally spun off from have maintained a real time continuity throughout the entire series up until Garou: Mark of the Wolves, the final installment so far.
    • Art of Fighting was a prequel to the Fatal Fury series, taking place in an unspecified time period somewhere around the late 1970s/early 1980s with a younger Geese eventually showing up as the True Final Boss in AOF2 An older Ryo was even a hidden boss in Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition. In KOF, the AOF cast has essentially been transported a few decades into the future with no change to age or personality.
  • The original Rolling Thunder was a period piece set during the late 1960s. For some reason, the two sequels moved the setting to the 1990s, even though the Albatross and Leila from those games are implied to be the same characters from the original (rather than being legacy characters).
  • An interesting example is found in The Idolmaster where each of the characters have a birthday. However over the course of a year they never celebrate their birthday or age. In the end, Iori is still 14, Haruka is still 16, and the twins are still 12 even if you pass their birthdays.
    • This is almost averted in the second game which claims a year has passed from the first but this just raises further questions. Most characters have grown taller (or for some weird reason in the case of Hibiki shorter), several have changed their hairstyle, and all have aged a year but nobody has improved much as an idol. Also Miki is unawakened and Ritsuko has quit being an idol. The official ending of the first game could be guessed at being the Futami Twins who only separate to debut solo in their best ending but neither is an A rank idol. It seems a year passed but the first game never happened... even though it did; and now I'm getting a headache.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog has been fighting Robotnik since he was 10. For the last 20 years. He is now 15. Well, he had a birthday party in Sonic Generations, anyway...
    • The original idea was that Sonic was 10 in the first game, but was bumped up to 15 once Sonic the Hedgehog 2 came out.
    • He's actually had a couple of birthdays in the Archie comics but since they're always rebooting the universe he never ages beyond 16.
      • One issue actually lampshaded this - Sonic was celebrating a birthday after spending a year (Mobius-wise) lost in space. When they asked how old he was, he just said "Let's say I'm 16 and never mention this again."
    • It's made even more painfully obvious by the aging of characters like Amy and Tails.
  • Dead or Alive had this going for a while. The series debuted in 1996, but the characters remained the same age; for example, Kasumi and Ayane remained only 17 and 16 respectively. As of Dead or Alive 5, however, the entire cast has been officially aged two years.
  • The cast in the Super Mario Bros. series never seem to age at all. New Super Mario Bros. Wii starts the story off by having the Mario Bros. celebrate Princess Peach's birthday, but her age is never revealed. The entire series constantly references past games but none of the characters get any older.
  • Snatcher was originally released in 1988 in Japan, with the date of the Catastrophe set in 1991. For the English version, which was released in 1994, the date was changed to 1996. This actually caused all the dates in the story to be bumped by five years, changing the present date of the story from 2042 to 2047.
  • The Nancy Drew books have their own set of problems, but the Nancy Drew PC games have another, namely this. There's a steady implication that the stories occur in quick succession (The first game, Secrets Can Kill, ended with a sting about a soap opera and death threats, directly leading to Stay Tuned For Danger, and more recent games such as Shadow at the Water's Edge, The Captive Curse, and Alibi in Ashes, are explicitly said to be one right after the other, with the only time passing between them being the plane rides between Japan, Germany, and River Heights.) However, while this could imply only a few weeks or months in-universe, justifying the fact that she's still 18 years old, the games have been made for 15 years in real life, and they keep the tech up with the times, meaning in the span of less than a year, she's gone from finding clues on floppy disks and VHS tapes to super-powerful smartphones and thumb drives.
  • Despite being active for nearly 4 years as of the time of this writing, Star Trek Online is still, according to Word of God, in 2409. This is after having two holiday events. According to the developers, they're in "very late" 2409.
  • Samus Aran in the Metroid series doesn't seem to age a day at all, even though every single game is placed on a single timeline so that they all follow each other. It is never explained how much time has passed between games and the only passage of time that gets mentioned is in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption where Samus wakes up 3 months later after being gravely injured by Dark Samus.
  • Pokémon runs afoul of this to a degree, despite only occasional references to time passed between games, and only a few human characters recurring. Caitlin of the Unova Elite Four has aged around 7-8 years between her debut in Platinum and her last appearance in Black 2 and White 2, and it shows. However, the latter set of games include a tournament where you face Gym Leaders from previous games, who haven't aged a bit unlike Caitlin. Most egregious in cases of the younger ones, such as Bugsy and Maylene, who still look like they're in their early teen years despite the fact that they should be in their early 20's by now.

    Web Animation 
  • Retarded Animal Babies hangs a lampshade on this in episode 21: Cat mentions that they're only six months old but can somehow go to two annual 4-H fairs in a row. (Assuming the previous one was the one briefly shown in episode 2, several years have also passed in Real Life time in that period.)

    Webcomics 
  • Avalon averted this for the most part, with the majority of it taking placing in real time and with timeskips after long storylines. It was played straight near the end of its run when the ugliness that is Schedule Slip reared its head and caused week to month long delays.
  • This is parodied in Supermegatopia, in which Mongoose Lad really was Ferret Man's boy sidekick for decades, due to a mutation that caused him to age far slower than normal.
  • Achewood characters age normally... except for Phillipe. Phillipe is five. He will always be five.
  • APT Comic, though some of the characters (including the resident Author) have 'ranges' instead of a set age.
  • From PvP:
    Cole: It could be worse...Bart Simpson has been ten years old since 1989.
    Francis: This blows.
    Cole: You'll appreciate it when you're in your thirties.
    • Two years after that strip, Francis and Marcie lose their virginities to one another and immediately age three years.
    • This is done inconsistently, though, as this strip implies that less than four years have passed since the comic's launch, modern pop-culture references notwithstanding.
    • On the other hand, Cole's daughter (Born 1999/2000) dropped out of the strip for a decade and is now in college.
  • Averted in Kevin & Kell (and also in Bill Holbrook's other strips). Coney was born and is growing up, Lindesfarne graduated and went to university, and even Rudy has grown up and matured. A little.
    • And yet, initially it was played straight as Coney who's now growing up, was born around when the webcomic began in 95 and didn't progress to being a toddler until a full 10 years later with time still being acknowledged as progressing.
    • The tags under the strips note strips in which Rudy's age is mentioned. He's aged six years between 1996 and 2012. Interestingly, Coney looks about six in the latter strip as well.
  • Done in Alice, in which the characters were in 7th grade until around 2005, and have gone to several Halloween parties, fall dances, and Thanksgiving Weekends. The later strips show them progressing to Grade Eight.
  • In this Shortpacked!, Ethan considers some of the effects of Comic Book Time with respect to Batman.
  • A year of Dumbing of Age strips will usually cover an in-universe week, but the comic has a sliding time-scale to prevent it, in the author's words, slowly turning into a period piece.
  • While Sluggy Freelance does note holidays (And the strip's anniversary) and some events (Such as Zoe going through and eventually graduating from college) that indicate the passage of time, nobody noticeably ages. By rights, Riff and Torg should be close to 40 by now if they aged in real time.
  • A particularly ridiculous example is MMBN 7 The World Tournament, where not a single day has passed in-universe in the 4+ years the comic has been running so far.

    Web Original 
  • Legion Of Net Heroes, due to being a superhero parody, has played with this many times. Probably the most explicit use of the trope is the Slide-Rule of Time, which can create and manipulate sliding timescales with elementary-level arithmetic.
  • In the Whateley Universe, time clearly moves more slowly than in the real world; Team Kimba arrives at the academy in early September 2006 (still in the future at the time the first stories were written), and by real-life early 2009 the storyline has advanced to begin to cover events in January/February 2007. On the other hand, the stories do provide plenty of concrete dates and times to help keep everything on track.
  • Averted so far in the LessThanThree-Verse, with actual dates matching those in the real world, and the core characters, The Brat Pack, less than a year from graduating high school.
  • Behind The Veil, being a Play By Post Game, runs by this trope out of necessity; the events of a eventful hour could take weeks to write out. Using some of the oldest characters on the site as a framing device, their first meeting which was written towards the end of 2007 happened roughly a year prior to current events.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons is an example of an animated TV show lasting long enough for this trope to become apparent. The births of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie, the year of Homer and Marge's first meeting, wedding, etc., all appear to shift as the seasons roll by so that the characters can constantly remain the same age (more or less). This usually manifests itself in the flashback episodes. Grandpa, however will always be a WWII veteran, even if this makes him unrealistically old. One egregious example is Apu and Manjula's octuplets, who they decide to have after seeing Maggie, and were conceived, born, and are now toddlers that have shown to be able to stand and talk, while Maggie is still the same crawling, teething, silent infant.
    • There is an early episode when Bart and Lisa likens watching the premiere of a movie to watching the moon landing. We then see a flashback of a 10-ish year old Homer completely ignoring the moon landing, listening to his records. They later had a episode focused on his mother and her hippie-background and had a toddler Homer showing up at Woodstock. The two events took place less than a month apart!
    • How many episodes have Bart and Lisa beginning or finishing the school year, but they (along with their classmates) are always stuck in the same grade?
    • In series 6 or so Luann Van Houten tells Marge that she just can't keep up with the Go-Go Nineties.
    • The series 5 opener refers to Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope all still being alive, working and successful. George Harrison cameos in the same episode (and not just the flashback bit)
    • In Season 3, Sideshow Bob says that "You can't keep the Democrats out of the White House forever!". That was six presidential terms ago, four of them Democratic, and Maggie hasn't aged a day.
    • On Lisa's eighth birthday, Moe expresses astonishment that a man claiming to be Micheal Jackson is actually white.
    • Frequently lampshaded in the commentaries by Al Jean, who loves to bring up the fact that one of the show's current writers was born after 1980, and is thus technically younger than Bart.
    • When, exactly, the backstory to the kids' birth takes place has never been treated very seriously (notably in two separate episodes Bart was 5 in 1990, but was concieved at the time of The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, making him 5 in 1986) and is always floating at "10, 8 and 1 year(s) ago". This is lampshaded in another episode where Homer remembers his childhood as "The fifties, or the sixties, or... maybe it was the early seventies."
      • This could be part of the reason Homer's mother was written out of the series. She left her family in The Sixties to escape the law but at this point, 39ish-year-old Homer would be too young for this to make any sense now.
    • The amount of Christmas episodes obviously suggests years passing, yet it never does. Doesn't anyone in Springfield realise Christmas only happens once a year? Two major events in the normally Negative Continuity show (Santa's Little Helper and Lisa turning Buddhist) happen over two Christmases, and on one occasion Homer counts up at least a dozen family Christmases which he had saved and/or ruined, even though he's only been married to Marge for about 10-11 years.
    • In the episode "Lisa's Wedding", Lisa sees into the far future her first love in the far-off year of 2010.
    • Lampshaded in That '90s Show, where Bart claims he's never heard of the '90s. This was rather controversial, seeing as how Bart was a prominent pop culture of the early '90s, but the storyline required he be born in 1998.
    • In the episode "All's Fair in Oven War", Marge decides to have the kitchen renovated which should be done in weeks, but takes two years! None of the characters aged during this episode. Though Maggie doesn't show up until after the kitchen is finished.
    • Lampshaded in "The Last Temptation of Krust" when Marge is taking Bart and Lisa shoe shopping for dress shoes. Lisa complains that the shoes are two sizes too big and Marge says she'll grow into them. Lisa then asks 'When?' and Marge says 'Oh you're overdue for a growth spurt.'
    • Major League Baseball catcher/later manager Mike Scioscia made guest appearances in 1992 and 2010 and aged normally. Although the events of the 1992 episode were mentioned, his physical appearance was not lampshaded, despite a great opportunity to blame it on his tragic illness in the former episode.
    • The episode "Angry Dad The Movie" has a very strange time line, it is stated that Bart created Angry Dad in 1999, even though the original episode aired in 2002, later in the episode Bart claims he became a fan of animation after watching the early episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants as a toddler.
    • "Ned-Liest Catch" references Edna Krabappel's relationship with Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer which took place in the 3rd season episode "Flaming Moe's" back in 1991. He has aged in real time since then and no one comments on this.
    • Also in "Behind The Laughter", Lisa states in her "Tell All Book" that she has been given anti-aging hormones to keep her 8.
    • Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama have all either appeared or been mentioned on the show and three of them got re-elected.
    • In the first half-hour episode where the family gets Santa's Little Helper, Marge writes in a letter to her family that Maggie had taken her first steps, though she still fell down every so often. Maggie's been learning how to walk for more than twenty years.
  • The characters in South Park don't age much. Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny started out as 8-year-old boys in the third grade. In the 4th season, the boys move onto fourth grade and were 9-years old. By the season 15 episode "Crack Baby Atheletic Association", all the boys were 10. None of the other characters in the series have aged at all either with the exception of Ike who started out as a toddler who could barely speak coherently, as of season eleven he is a bit taller, wears different clothes and he can now speak in full sentences.
    • In the Facebook episode, "You have 0 Friends," first broadcast in spring of 2010, several of the boys' Facebook profiles were shown, listing their birth years as 2001 — four years after the show started airing.
    • "Die Hippy Die" indicates that Stan's parents were dating back during Woodstock... which took place in 1969. Given their current (assumed) ages this really doesn't add up at all.
  • Arthur has featured the terms of an anthromorphic animal Bill Clinton and George Bush alike, yet Arthur and his friends are still in the third grade.
    • DW has also turned five and the baby Kate born and aged to around nine months, yet Arthur is still eight.
      • Kate has shown signs of entering toddlerhood but it's unlikely Arthur will move up to a grade as that'd remove Ratburn as a character and change the class structure.
  • Lampshaded in Family Guy, twice:
    • During the first "comeback" season, Peter mentions that Bonnie has been pregnant for five years, and tells her to either have the baby or not. Stewie's age has been lampshaded a few times, notably when he says to Brian "But I'm only one!" and Brian replies "Still?"
      • Bonnie finally gave birth. Took almost ten years, but there you go.
    • On the other hand, one character, Bertram, has managed to be conceived, carried to term, born, and age enough to be allowed to play on the playground while Stewie remained one year old, all in one episode. Other episodes have also distinctly taken place over months of time with no change in Stewie's age. A good example of this was the episodes "The Perfect Castaway" in which there is a time lapse of a year, but Stewie (among practically all the cast) remaining the same.
    • Family Guy occasionally gives the main characters actual progression. There's the episode where Chris finally went to High School, an episode beginning with Meg's 17th birthday (she was 15 at the beginning of season 1, and aged to 16 in a later episode of the same season and aged to 18 by season 10), and another episode beginning with Lois' 41st birthday. However, it looks strange that Meg has aged somewhat normally while Chris only aged one year throughout the whole series.
    • Brian is always stated to be 7 or 8 years old in dog years and he is always mulling over about just how old he is getting, even though Brian never seems to get older at all.
      • Lampshaded when Stewie asks Brian, "How can you have a teenage son when you yourself are only seven?" "Well those are dog years" "That doesn't make any sense" "You know what Stewie, if you don't like it, just go on the internet and complain".
  • Scooby-Doo has celebrated his fortieth birthday. He's still alive and the members of Mystery Inc. are still teenagers. Also, their ages are always the same, despite the various series having had more than one Halloween Episode. That Halloween must have been a really busy day for the gang.
    • The continuity that begins with Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island follows on from the original series, but has the teenagers growing into adults... and Scooby not aging at all, despite being a Great Dane — which breed has an average lifespan of 8-10 years. Similarly, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo has him as a puppy when the others were in elementary school, which is the same problem from the other end.
    • This was lampshaded in Scooby Doo: Pirates Ahoy! The Gang goes on a cruise to celebrate Fred's birthday. At the wharf, they ask him how old he is. His response? "37. *beat* 38... 39... Here it is. Dock 40."
  • King of the Hill has an interesting timeline. At the beginning of the series, Bobby was 11 years old and had a birthday. He turned 13 in the fifth season and hasn't really aged since. In the fourth season, Luanne stated that she was 19½, then in season 9, she celebrated her 21st birthday. John Redcorn was said to be 36 in a season three episode and 40 in a season 10 episode.
  • Rugrats combined this with Not Allowed to Grow Up. Just from the sheer number of episodes, some of which specifically take place over the course of multiple days, one would think that at least a year would've passed, but it doesn't. (Add in the fact that they have holiday specials almost all the way around the calendar, including multiple Valentine's Day episodes, and this gets a bit ridiculous. Then there was that not real-time pregnancy that nevertheless tried to pass itself off as the right amount of time (it was explicitly autumn when the pregnancy was discovered in a season finale, and summer in The Movie in which Dil is born (released before the start of the following season), so nine months is to be assumed), yet no time actually passes for anyone else. Lampshaded by the anniversary special called "Decade in Diapers". Then they make up for it by applying all ten years of accumulated time at once.
    • Chuckie seems to be the only one to develop over the course of the series, moving from a crib to a bed (and all the anxiety therein), and in a post-Uncancelled episode, says his first word to grown-ups.
  • The main characters of the TV show Home Movies have stayed eight-years-old throughout its four year run.
  • Liberty's Kids: The show covered 1773 right up to about 1789, and the main characters never aged - although all the adults around them did! By the end of the series Sarah was still 15, James 14, and Henri only 8 - after about 16 years!
    • Leading to weird scenes where they recall events that happened — that they participated in — eight, ten, twelve years ago, and marvel at how much things have changed in the meantime...
  • On American Dad! Steve will always be 14 and Hayley always 18 or 19, but the episode "Tears of a Clooney" alone takes place over the course of an entire year, with little room left in its chain of events for other events to occur. Though, since each of the Christmas episodes has involved time/reality manipulation of some sort, the Timey-Wimey Ball may be playing a role.
  • Reboot subverts and justifies this. Everyone in Mainframe doesn't age much, but when Enzo becomes a game sprite, he comes back an older, grizzled self, along with his girlfriend, both having started as children. Then when they make it back to Mainframe, Enzo is visibly as old as his sister Dot who had always been much older than him. However, the faster rate of time in the Games is supposed to justify this.
    • It is worth noting that everyone is a program of some form and, as Enzo and AndrAIa show, age depends upon how much processing power is dedicated to them (games being CPU-intensive).
  • The Fairly OddParents: Timmy Turner has remained ten for over ten years. It was assumed that he had turned eleven in one episode, "Birthday Bashed", but a later episode, "Manic-Mom Day", established that he's still ten years old.
    • He even celebrates two birthdays over the course of the show, and did celebrate the fact that he'd held onto Cosmo and Wanda for a year in the third season. The Comic Book Time part was confirmed early on, because Timmy traveled back thirty years in two different episodes: to 1970 in the first season, but to 1972 in the third.
    • On that note, when The Secret Origin of Denzel Crocker! was created Timmy's birthday was dated as 1992. That should have been booted out of the continuity early on, making the episode non-canon, as Timmy never reaches an other age and there's no indication the show is perpetually set in 2002..However Timmy's Secret Wish makes it ever the more possible Timmy still is born in 1992, possibly averting the typical floating timeline.
      • This makes the live action movies set earlier than people think. You'd think it's set in the 2020s when it could be set in the early to mid 2010s, which is still Twenty Minutes into the Future but less so.
    • This is given quite a twist in the "Timmy's Secret Wish" special: Timmy once wished that everyone in the world would stop aging (and that Cosmo, the fairy granting the wish, would forget granting it afterwards). It turns out, by the time this is discovered, it's been 50 years! And apparently nobody in the entire world noticed.
    • In the movie Abra Catastrophe, Timmy celebrates his Fairy-versery for keeping his fairies a secret for a year, but he's still 10 - however, it was established that he got Cosmo and Wanda as his fairies when he was 9, a short while before he turned 10.
  • Strongly subverted in Young Justice, where there's a timestamp at least Once per Episode establishing the date and time when events begin. Word of God says that the Universe Bible has a timeline that's 149 pages long, giving all the major events in the show's history. The show begins on July 4, 2010 (which was originally Next Sunday A.D.) and the first season finale was set on New Year's.
    • T.O. Morrow built robots to destroy the Justice Society of America during World War II, and at the time of the show is still building them to destroy the Justice League. Of course, the real T.O. Morrow is an old man in a coma who built a robotic duplicate of himself to continue his work.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man averts this—we open the night before Peter begins his junior year and season two ends in the spring, with episodes set around all the major holidays between. It was intended to be a 65-Episode Cartoon that would end with Peter and his classmates Graduating From The Story, but it was Screwed by the Lawyers before that could happen.
  • This trope is actually averted in Recess. While the show began in 1997 and ended in 2001 (and two Direct-to-Video films in 2003), it's been established that the show only takes place over the course of September 1997 to June 1998. This is firmly established in Recess: School's Out, where the villain talks about how he was holding revenge for thirty years since 1968 (the movie was released in February 2001, but takes place in June 1998)
    • Pepper Ann did pretty much the exact same thing: started in 1997, continued past 2000, in-series calenders still say 97.
  • The Powerpuff Girls, having been first devised in 1992 as Craig McCracken's school project as The Whoopass Girls, were first depicted as five-year-old children attending kindergarten in their first Hanna-Barbera commissioned short "Meat Fuzzy Lumkins." They remained five years old through all six seasons of their show (plus specials and the movie) in spite of the fact they celebrated a birthday in the episode "Birthday Bash."
  • Phineas and Ferb's theme song mentions "104 days of summer vacation"...but the show is approaching 200 episodes already. A few clues are offered about dates—the first season episode "Dude, We're Getting the Band Back Together" takes place on June 15, and the second season special "Summer Belongs to You" takes place on the summer solstice. This has been lampshaded several times:
    • Phineas answers (to a thought we never hear) in an episode: "You're right Ferb. It DOES feel longer than 104 days."
    • Buford at one point says "Are you sure it's only been three months? Because I added up the stuff we've been building and we're way over 115..."
    • In "Fly on the Wall," Doof laments that the summer seems to be going on forever.
    • However, some episodes and specials don't take place during the summer, so it's not impossible for another summer to take place.
  • Humorous example from Beavis And Butthead. The show operated on Comic Book Time, but the spin-off, Daria (which was still running after Beavis and Butthead and was cancelled) actually did have a progression of time and ended with its lead graduating from high school. When Beavis And Butthead was Un-Cancelled, they once again returned to Comic Book Time despite Daria having long since moved away and graduated.
    • This is even subtly Lampshaded. Beavis states that he used to have a friend named Daria who had died. Butthead immediately calls him an idiot and says that Daria moved away.
  • Subverted in Adventure Time with Finn aging from 12 to 14 with Word of God being that he will continue to age and learn rather than remain twelve forever.
  • The Flintstones zig-zag this a little. The four principals never changed in appearance (apart from the usual art evolution such series goes through) through the birth of Pebbles and the adoption of Bamm-Bamm during the original six seasons and the movie (The Man Called Flintstone). They still don't in The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show (1971) where the two infants are now teens and even those two don't change in the subsequent NBC shows later on (The Flintstone Comedy Show, Flintstone Funnies). Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm eventually graduate to adulthood in the 90s with two made-for-TV animated films (I Yabba Dabba Do!, Hollyrock-A-Bye Baby) while their parents, on the verge of grandparenthood, still look the way they did when the original series aired its finale in 1966.
    • The 2001 Cartoon Network special Flintstones: On The Rocks retcons this, designing the four main characters as they looked from the original series' very start.

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alternative title(s): Sliding Timescale; Floating Timeline
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