"Son of man, look to the skyA story featuring an adolescent making the mental leap from child to adult. In real life, this happens over the course of several years. Literature and some television are media that have the space to show the story at a slow pace. But for a movie, things have to be compressed to several months at the most, so expect some really accelerated character development. Tends to happen to a character anywhere from 13 to 20 years of age. Usually includes some combination of the following:
Lift your spirit, set it free
Some day you'll walk tall with pride
Son of man, a man in time you'll be!"
Lift your spirit, set it free
Some day you'll walk tall with pride
Son of man, a man in time you'll be!"
— Tarzan, "Son of Man"
- Adult Fear
- Death by Newbery Medal
- Down the Rabbit Hole
- The Hero's Journey
- First disagreement with parents.note
- First experimentation with drugs, alcohol, tobacco or any combination of the three.
- Growing Up Sucks
- Having One Last Field Trip
- The divorce of the main character's parents.
- Sex as Rite-of-Passage
- Coming-Out Story
- Combat (often replaced with sports in more peaceful times)
- Hunting or the main character getting his or her first job
- Finally seeing one's Parents as People
- Trying to stand out, paradoxically, by fitting in
- Wanting to have friends or be popular
- First crushes or relationships
- Receiving The Talk
- Going through some kind of Rite of Passage
- If The Protagonist is female, possibly some Women's Mysteries
- Sometimes involves Aesop Collateral Damage
- First experience with grief, loss, death, rejection, etc.
- Break the Cutie
- Puberty and developing sexuality
- Leaving one's parents
- Questioning religious beliefs, or societal traditions/rules/customs. Perhaps even doing away with any one of them, or changing them.
- First experience with sexism, racism, homophobia, or other prejudice (either their own, or that of others)
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- The entire subplot of Dragon Ball Z is essentially Gohan growing up with adventures similar to Goku's, his father, albeit far more violent. Like its predecessor, Dragon Ball, the series ends when Gohan is married and has a family of his own.
- Candy Candy covers Candy's whole life since she was taken in by Miss Pony and Sister Maria as a baby, until she's at least in her twenties.
- Naruto Shippuden shows the title character's growth from the least talented and least loved ninja in his village to a fully recognized prodigy who has saved thousands of people and faced down some of the worst criminals the world has to offer. Also (to an extent) Sasuke, who has matured from being the Rival to being homicidally crazy.
- The Macross TV shows (Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Macross 7, Macross Frontier, and Macross Delta) all feature this, with Hikaru Ichijo of SDF being the first in the franchise to fit this trope. He starts off not wanting anything to do with the military, but the death of Roy Fokker forces him to mature and become a great pilot.
- Amuro Ray of Mobile Suit Gundam was probably the best of the earliest examples in mecha anime. Amuro got slapped very often by Bright Noa and this helped shape him into a man. Even Bright explicitly tells him that a good smacking would force him to become one.
- Kamille Bidan in the sequel Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam is forced to mature to an even greater extent, as he faces the harsh circumstances of warfare, starts having a romantic relationship, and loses many of his loved ones.
- FLCL, but since it's made by Studio Gainax, it's a coming of age story combined with Humongous Mecha, a Mind Screw plot, and loads of confusing and gratuitous sexual symbolism and humor.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: Zig-Zagged. For a while it seems like the characters are failing to come of age and are suffering for it, but most of them play it straight in the end. Shinji overcomes his self-hatred and resolves to continue living in order find happiness- rejecting Instrumentality in the process. Misato accepts her love for Kaji and fulfills her role as Shinji's guardian, saving his life at the cost of her own and motivating him to continue living. Rei affirms her individuality by abandoning Gendo and subsequently becomes a god-like entity and Spirit Advisor to Shinji. Even Asuka is hinted to have changed for the better when she gives Shinji the equivalent of a Cooldown Hug as he strangles her at the end of The Movie- the first genuinely nice thing she's done for him.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, also made by Studio Gainax, plays this straight with its main character, Simon. Specially the first arc, where it's pretty much the whole point of the story.
- If you boil all the Unwanted Harem bits and leave only the core of the plot, you can see that Mahou Sensei Negima! is basically a story of Negi growing from good-natured and smart but somewhat clumsy and socially awkward kid into a great hero, a true successor to his legendary father. Only with magic and kung-fu. It's also a literal coming of age story, as his constant use of Evangeline's Year Inside, Hour Outside resort has presumably aged him up by at least a year.
- Narutaru. Shiina copes with loss and tragedy and learns a great deal about friendship, love, and the complexities of people and the world. Then she and her partner/ShadowArchetype, Mamiko, wipe out all of mankind together.
- The main premise of Hidamari Sketch centers on Yuno's desire to be seen as mature. Lampshaded, as she becomes overjoyed every time someone compliments her on her supposed maturity.
- Hitohira: Shy school girl—check. Situation that forces change—check. Affectionate friends to help her—check. It's still very well done, though.
- Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, when it boils down to it. It's really mostly about Tsuna being shaped and trained by Reborn into becoming a real man fit for being the 10th Generation Vongola boss.
- Ashita no Nadja: It starts when Nadja has to leave the only home she has known, travelling with the Dandelion Troupe to find her origins and grow up...
- Chrono Crusade seems to be a coming-of-age story for Rosette, particularly in the manga. It might be one for Chrono as well, although he'd be a "late bloomer" example as he's Really 700 Years Old.
- Onani Master Kurosawa started out as a parody of Death Note with fapping. However, it gradually turns into a coming-of-age story once the titular character realizes the consequences of his dispensing of "justice" (i.e. masturbating on the clothes of female students who bully one particular girl who caught him fapping in the first place). "Coming"-of-age never sounded so dirty.
- Real heartbreakingly deals with teenagers forced to grow up because of the disabilities that they've suddenly had to accept in order to deal with the world around them.
- Full Moon o Sagashite deals with the protagonist, Mitsuki, having to grow up while dealing with the fact that she doesn't have much time to live.
- Fushigi Yuugi is a coming-of-age story, among other things, for just about all the good guys—especially Miaka. While it takes somewhere between a few weeks to a few months for them to finish their journey in the book, it's only two days in the real world.
- Sakende Yaruze! is basically a Coming-of-Age Story for Nakaya that runs parallel to a Children Raise You story for his father Shino.
- GUN×SWORD is a coming of age story for Wendy. It's not the main plot, but it's a pretty important subplot.
- Almost all of the World Masterpiece Theater series are Coming of Age-stories, but it's played the straightest in Anne of Green Gables, where Anne visually gets older as the story progresses.
- Megazone 23, at least the first part. It contains elements of most of the examples from the top of this page and ends on a decidely negative note.
- Wandering Son has this, but the anime and manga portray it in a different way. The anime seems to be more so about kids learning to be comfortable with their bodies and growing up, apparently changing the protagonists from Transsexual to Wholesome Crossdressers. The manga isn't nearly as obvious as the anime, but it's still apparent. The manga began in late elementary, and follows the protagonists as they graduate high school. They develop as they grow up. For example, Nitori starts as a sensitive child prone to Tender Tears but matures over the course of the series and becomes more confident in herself.
- Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is about a bratty thirteen year old girl named Mirai who, along with her Cheerful Child brother Yuuki, get stuck while visiting a museum due to earthquakes. Mirai's Character Development has her maturing out of her aggressive and cynical personality.
- Once you look past the Fanservice, many of Masakazu Katsura's works turn out to be this. Specially obvious in Video Girl Ai and I"s: both of them feature highschool students dealing with their friendships, viewpoints in life, and their first romantic and sexual experiences.
- Aside from the Unwanted Harem elements, Rosario + Vampire is this for Tsukune. He starts of as a directionless Ordinary High-School Student, but gradually becomes a more mature and confident individual, and dedicates himself to promoting peaceful relations between humans and monsters.
- Eyeshield 21 boils down to the main character growing out of his wimpy kid mold and becoming a man (albeit a rather wimpy man).
- Mobile Suit Gundam AGE features this in the first two generations with their protagonists, Flit and Asemu Asuno, respectively, though their development differs wildly (Flit develops from a Messianic Archetype into a Dark Messiah, whereas Asemu develops from a "Well Done, Son!" Guy into his own person).
- A Cruel God Reigns is very much a coming of age story for not only Jeremy and Ian, but also for many of the supporting characters, like Vivi, Nadia, William, Cass, and Marjorie. However, the story focuses mainly on how Jeremy and Ian break into adulthood after the trauma of Jeremy's Rape as Backstory and Ian dealing with the fact that Jeremy killed his father.
- 3-gatsu no Lion is essentially one for the protagonist Rei Kiriyama, as many of the story arcs build upon his Character Development with the events that transpire in both the world of shogi and his home life, as well as with the life lessons he learns from them.
- Fate/Zero has this as a subplot, specifically Waver Velvet, a mage with great potential only marred by his belief of his genetics limiting him and his self-hatred due to how he was treated by others. He learns to stand up for himself, by entering the Holy Grail War and teaming up with a Boisterous Bruiser version of Alexander The Great, who functions as Waver's mentor figure.
- In a sense, the main character Kiritsugu Emiya could be seen as going through this as well. Though Kiritsugu is an adult, he still clings to childish beliefs about dividing the world into clear cut good and evil, as well as believing that he needs to become a "Hero of Justice" who can destroy all evil and create world peace, at any cost. Kiritsugu in his backstory started to question this ideal because of the tragedies he saw while fighting what he deemed evil but in the main plot, does his best to believe that world peace and becoming a true "hero" is attainable. In the end, Kiritsugu finds out from the Holy Grail that world peace is not possible and morals are extremely complex, to say the least. By this point, Kiritsugu has sacrificed everything from his ideals to his wife and best friend for a shot at world peace, just to get nothing out of it. Kiritsugu does manages to save the world but not give it peace and is left saddened by the fact he needs to grow up and accept the world as it is, as well as how he lost everyone he cared about.
- In addition, Kirei Kotomine, the Foil to Kiritsugu, goes through this as well. Kirei, despite being highly intelligent and capable at almost anything he ever tried, has never felt as if his life is worth living or indeed any life if worth living. There is nothing that brings him joy so he does whatever anyone else tells him to do, and due to this is nothing more than a pawn of the Church and its Ancient Conspiracy. He also has childish aspects in how he tries to cling to simple beliefs about good and evil, specifically any beliefs about good and evil that the Church tells him, all while ironically being an assassin for the Church and also being taught Thou Shalt Not Kill. Kirei eventually finds himself questioning why as an adult he still listens to his father and mentor figure, and does not think for himself. Kirei meets Gilgamesh, who teaches him how to figure out what he truly desires, which Kirei knows deep down but is fearful to accept. Kirei accepts that the only thing that brings him the desire to live and happiness is causing other people to suffer and die. From that point on, he fights in the war for himself and his own amusement, except for wanting to meet and defeat Kiritsugu, who he believes is like him.
- Arguably, many of the main characters are going through this in varying ways, not just the ones above.
- This is the main plot for My Daddy Long Legs, which chronicles Judy's development from a young teenager to an adult.
- Oyasumi Punpun is a particularly dark (and strange) example about a boy (who is stylized like a cartoony bird) and his development as he grows into an adult. He starts off as an optimistic, rather innocent elementary schooler but very quickly takes a downhill journey into cynicism and depression as he ages. The other characters don't fair much better.
- Ring Ni Kakero doubles as this and as a sports manga. Ryuuji and Kiku, the main characters, escape as children from an abusive household and decide to fulfill their shared dream to have Ryuuji become the best boxer in the world. In their way they grow not just as a boxer and his trainer, but as persons as well.
- Come to think of it, more than one sports manga serves as this as well. Many protagonists tend to be kids who are either Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life or have difficulties making friends, then find their life goals and/or new relationships via entering the school clubs.
- Seishun Kouryakuhon revolves around this, being a Slice of Life manga focusing on the four main characters' journey to high school graduation.
- Akatsuki No Aria is one set in Imperial Japan, where future Elegant Classical Musician Aria Kanbara begins a rocky journey to stardom and to love.
- Cat Street focuses on protagonist Keito's mental development, overcoming her Dark and Troubled Past as a child actress and finding out how she wants to live her life from now onwards.
- One Piece is describe by Oda as a coming of age story. Namely, what it is to become a man.
- Kokouno Hito is a story about the main character, a highly introverted and lethargic young man, reaching manhood, struggling to get by life as a "solo climber" but finding out that it isn't that easy to just turn your back on society and be a hermit.
- Kill la Kill: Not only is the show a uniquely female coming of age story (which tend to be more rare), but it's cranked up until the knob pops off. Blood as a metaphor for menstruation, as well as other body image issues? Senketsu is a sailor uniform that drinks Ryuko's blood to transform into a superpowered garter-belt bikini thing. Bullies that the adults never do anything about? The Student Council President runs the school like a dictatorship, and everyone—including the teachers—are under her control. Feel like the entire school is against you? At Honnoji Academy, literally the entire school is actually trying to kill Ryuko. Worried about living up to your parents' expectations? Ryuko and Satsuki (who are sisters, by the way) were designed by their parents to be weapons in various ways. And high and mighty Satsuki is the failed version. Feel out of place among your peers? Ryuko is a Half-Human Hybrid. And of course, The Power of Friendship saves the day at the end, and everybody learns that not only does everybody have their own reasons, but they have their own crazy friends.
- Bokura no Hentai is three coming of age stories crammed into one story. It revolves around three middle schoolers who meet on a website for crossdressers. The story takes place over the course of three years and has their personalities develop and mature. For example, Tamura has to overcome his Dark and Troubled Past and the lingering mental trauma it has caused him.
- Spider-Man, in nearly all his incarnations. Spiderman's origin story includes Peter Parker getting superpowers, using them for profit, then failing to help stop a criminal who later kills his Uncle Ben. This causes Peter to realise that with great power comes great responsibility. Note that as a coming of age story, Spiderman's origin story is lopsided. It includes the decision to be an adult, but not the learning to be an adult.
- The Flash: Barry Allen died just when Wally West was transitioning into adulthood. Wally's Character Development as the the new Flash thus played out like this.
- In Tales of the Jedi, the last arc, "Redemption," centers around Vima Sunrider when she becomes old enough for Jedi training. She starts as a rash and lonely girl, but with the help of the Force, seeks out Ulic Qel-Droma as her teacher and gains the maturity she needs to be a Jedi.
- Children of Time is this for the Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century character Beth Lestrade, who is fifteen when we first meet her, seventeen next time... And then we follow her for nearly a year, 'til she finally Earns Her Happy Ending and marries a certain Great Detective... Her five episodes constitute a complete Hero's Journey.
- Don't Keep Your Distance serves this purpose for a group of young Mobians traveling across the world eleven years after the ending of Sonic X: they leave their home village behind on a quest to meet Tails and do a lot of growing-up on their journey.
- The Legacy Series is an Arrow Next-Gen Fic that focuses on Oliver and Felicity's son Jonathan as he takes up his father's bow and becomes the hero of his own story.
- This is the plot behind the entire series of Pokémon: The Great Adventure. Ash travels across the régions with a mysterious mentor and learns to become a stronger Trainer and Aura Guardian while growing up and facing the reality of life.
- The Ragged Lady, a The Dresden Files fic, portrays the first manifestation of a wizard's magical talent as something akin to this trope.
Everything felt different now. When Molly was a child, she was sure she'd feel like a completely different person when she started her first period—she'd be a woman, she'd be almost grown up. But a period turned out to be messy and just another chore. But this… this was what she'd been looking for, trying out new clothes, reading new books, hanging out with new people. She'd been searching for it the last two years, she thought, when she'd first felt restless and out of place. This was it. It was here and it was now.
- Knight Erranddoes this for Antoine D'Coolette as he goes on a knight errant to find himself, a classic example of The Hero's Journey.
- Glory Days serves as this for Ty, Buzz, Warp and Rocket during their days at the Space Ranger Academy.
Films — Animated
- Many interpret The Thief and the Cobbler as this for the main character Tack, who begins the story skinny, pale, and mute, but by the end becomes muscular, tan, is much more confident in himself and has the voice of Sean Connery!
- The main themes of the Toy Story trilogy revolve around growing up, moving on, and that nothing lasts forever. Andy goes from being a carefree young boy to a young man heading off to college, and his toys realizing, and eventually facing the fact that Andy will inevitably outgrow them.
"How long will it last Woody? Do you really think Andy is going to take you to college? Or on his honeymoon? Andy's growing up...and there's nothing you can do about it."
- Monsters University is a college campus coming-of-age story mainly for Mike Wazowski as well as Sully, as they study to be scarers, while trying to figure out if they're really meant to be scarers.
- How to Train Your Dragon 2 has Hiccup who is not sure of his place in the world at the beginning of the film and is unwilling to take up the mantle of chief that his father Stoick is trying to force upon him. But by the end of the film, after his father's death, Hiccup finally finds his place, and is now ready and willing to become the Chief of Berk.
- Downplayed but present in Inside Out. Riley is twelve, and during the course of the movie the landscape of her mind changes in ways to indicate she is maturing. For instance, large sections of her imagination are demolished and her imaginary friend is erased, replaced by a machine that spits out idealised, devoted boyfriends. It also shows many of her oldest memories being lost as she moves away from her early years, and her idyllic, happy core memories and the personality islands they created are replaced by a wider selection produced by multiple emotions, showing her developing beyond "happy kid who likes hockey".
Films — Live-Action
- Punch is about a high-school senior in Korea trying to find a direction in life, while simultanously bonding with the Missing Mom who abandoned him as a baby.
- A Little Princess is a pretty dark version. The rich heroine Sara Crewe is left an orphan and has to work as a servant to survive. Throughout the story, she learns to hold onto her kindness and use her imagination to survive the bad days.
- The "Apu Trilogy" of Bengali films directed by Satyajit Ray, based on the novels Pather Panchali and Aparajito, follow the coming of age of the protagonist Apu Roy over thirty years. It is often considered one of cinema's greatest bildungsroman stories.
- Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace for Luke, Leia, Anakin, and Padme. Luke and Anakin Skywalker leave their home and family to begin their training as Jedi Knights while Princess Leia and Padme Amidala have to prove themselves as successful leaders.
- The Graduate is about directionless college student Benjamin Braddock trying to find himself and escape the suburban ennui that his parents and his girlfriend's parents have found themselves in. He more or less fails.
- The overriding plot of A Bronx Tale, where teenage Italian-American youth Calogero grows up in the changing and divided world of the 1960s while trying to find his way. Influences pulling him in different directions include, but are not exclusive to his Opposed Mentors, (one being his honest, hardworking and poor immigrant father, the other being the intelligent Affably Evil and wealthy Mafia capo who is like a surrogate father to him) his racist, thuggish neighborhood friends, and his black love interest.
- A perennial subgenre is the teenaged ensemble comedy. Examples include:
- Fast Times at Ridgemont High follows a group of high school students over the course of one year as they all grapple with issues of impending adulthood.
- Stand by Me starts out as a road movie where four boys walk a few miles to see a dead body, but morphs into this as the boys talk about their hopes for the future. Also subverts the Nostalgia Filter hard as it shows that 1950s suburbia was far from Arcadia.
- The Outsiders deals with a feud between two rival gangs - Greasers and Socs. The protagonist is a teen who has to deal with running away from home, attempted murder, rebuilding his relationship with his brothers and the deaths of two friends.
- Dazed and Confused manages to be this despite an Extremely Short Timespan. It follows the lives of high school students on the last day of school in 1979.
- The first American Pie film deals with four teens on the verge of graduating high school, who view Sex as Rite-of-Passage and want to all lose their virginity together. Throughout the film, Jerk Jock Oz discovers a sensitive side, Kevin realises that his relationship probably won't last after school and nerdy Jim realises there's more to life than just sex.
- Super8 is the tale of a young boy and the girl he likes coming to grips with a shared family tragedy... while a scary escaped alien runs amok in their town.
- The Way Way Back: Summer vacation, first job and a family crisis.
- The Wise Kids involves Crisis of Faith and dealing with sexuality in a heavily Christian small town.
- Renaissance Man treats several of the Army students in Mr. Ringo's class in this manner.
- Blue Is the Warmest Color's more accurate title is Life of Adèle: Chapters 1 & 2 rather than Blue Is the Warmest Color as the comicbook. The film is more of a chronicle of how Adèle transitions from adolescence to adulthood rather than a lesbian love story even though their relationship is the centerpiece of Adèle's life.
- The Way He Looks deals with both sexuality and wanting to be independent, with being handicapped as an obstacle.
- Secondhand Lions: A boy is left with his two crotchety uncles while his mother goes out of state to work. At first it's all awkward discomfort, but then they warm up to each other, and one of the uncles tell the boy stories about their "past exploits." By the end he has grown from his shy awkward self, to a self-confident young man determined to take charge of his own life.
Tagline: Every boy deserves an adventure.
- Wild Boys of the Road is a pretty dark example of this trope. Two fresh-faced, golly gee-whiz teens hit the road as hobos during The Great Depression because their families don't have enough money to feed them. They suffer through things like brawls with railroad goons, brawls with police, rape, and losing limbs in railroad accidents.
- For Keeps tackles the topic of teen pregancy where Stan and Darcy are forced to drop out of school and take up jobs to support their child.
- The Spectacular Now has a shallow party boy falling in love with a Geek girl and learning that there is more to life than just having fun and living "in the now".
- Moonlight is a coming-of-age story about a young black boy who struggles with bullying and his sexuality.
- Handsome Devil deals with the coming of age of nerdy outcast Ned and star athlete Conor at a rugby-mad boarding school, when they're forced to share a room together.
- The Wanderers is about a youth gang in the Bronx. The story focuses on their coming of age in the social turmoil caused by the Kennedy assassination and the Vietnam War.
- Given its genre Wonder Woman has a very nuanced and coherent coming of age story. Diana starts the movie with a strong moral core and a desire to do make the world a better place, but she is also impulsive, prone to Black and White Morality, and judgmental. Throughout the movie she learns more about the world and about herself, and by the end of the movie she has applied the lessons. Some of the key lessons she learns are:
- Seeing the difference between a person and the role they act or are forced into
- The relationship between fear and courage
- She herself can fail to uphold her ideals
- Call Me By Your Name is about a young Jewish-American boy in 1980s Sicily who develops into an adult through a same-sex romance with his father's summer guest.
- Subverted in A Prayer for Owen Meany, the impact of Owen on Johnny is a major part of his life, but Johnny hasn't really changed much since Owen left his life. In fact, he is much worse off.
- Most—but not all—winners of the Newbery Medal.
- Each book in Annals of the Western Shore is this, for different reasons:
- In Gifts, Orrec and Gry grow up in a society that values magic powers for their ability to dominate and wage war on their neighbors—something neither of them are interested in doing, putting them in an uncomfortable position with their families.
- In Voices, Memer grows up hating the Alds for their brutal occupation of her city, but slowly comes to realize that simple revenge won't help, and they're really Not So Different.
- In Powers, Gavir's various illusions about the world and the people in it are shattered when his comfortable Happiness in Slavery is destroyed by war and personal tragedy, forcing him to travel far and wide (and learn even more hard lessons).
- Nearly anything written by Judy Blume.
- The Confusions of Young Törless is one of these, with a heaping helping of expressionism, aristocratic teen angst, and violence.
- Brian's Saga: A teenager gets literally stranded in the woods. In order to survive, he has to become a self-sufficient adult.
- The Bengali novels Pather Panchali and Aparajito follow the coming of age of the protagonist Apu Roy over thirty years. It was adapted into The Apu Trilogy of films by Satyajit Ray.
- Harry Potter: The seven books each cover a year of the eponymous Harry Potter's life, primarily showing ages 11 through 17. Although the series is ostensibly about Harry's struggle against the evil wizard Voldemort, his growth from a child through adolescence into adulthood is a major theme, and the bulk of each book is about his time as a student at the strange but wonderful Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
- A number of major characters come of age in the Deryni works. A partial list:
- Cinhil Haldane's surviving sons come of age in the Heirs of Camber trilogy.
- Kelson's tale is unfolded over two trilogies The Deryni Chronicles (which covers the hectic first eight months of his reign, beginning at age 14) and The Histories of King Kelson (which draws from the next three years).
- The Childe Morgan books cover the early lives of a number of characters, with the first volume discussing Donal Haldane's children as well as the Corwyn heirs (Alyce, Vera, Marie, Ahern). The second and third books add the next generation of Corwyn's ducal house.
- Liam-Lajos postpones taking on his royal status as King of Torenth until after he makes one last court visit to Coroth as a squire.
- Anne of Green Gables. She grows the most in the first book, and the last book is a Coming Of Age of her daughter, Rilla.
- Interpreter of Maladies has two stories, "Mrs. Sen's" and "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine". Both involve children who become fascinated by an adult, and when the adult leaves them in the end, they lose their naivety toward the world.
- Jane Eyre is all about how the title character transforms from angry, poor, unwanted little girl into an emotionally and financially secure woman who is the equal (and perhaps the better) of her love interest, Mr. Rochester.
- Of Human Bondage: Chronicling Philip Carey's struggles as an orphan with a club foot being raised by his strict aunt and uncle, being sent to Boarding School, hating it, running to Germany to complete his education, and struggling to find love and purpose in late-Victorian and Edwardian England.
- Fever Pitch: The book, not the movies. Describes the author's own coming of age through his relationship with football and his favourite club.
- Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit deals with a young evangelical girl who grows up to find that she's a lesbian, and how this contrasts with her religion.
- Purple Hibiscus: Kambili and her brother Jaja learn to deal with their father's abuse, civil unrest and eventually their father's murder.
- The Belgariad is this in a Sword & Sorcery setting. Garion is a teenager through most of the story, but the first book covers his childhood from the beginning. As Garion is painfully Ignorant of the Call, the series deals largely with his coming to terms with being special. Love Interest Ce'Nedra is also forced to grow up, maturing from spoiled princess to responsible queen.
- Everything in the Tortall Universe.
- Song of the Lioness has Alanna learning to enjoy being a girl and stop fearing love while she faces numerous dangers to herself and the realm.
- The Immortals is about Daine moving beyond the sudden death of her mother, finding new friends, mastering her wild magic and gaining unlikely allies with animals and the "monsters" invading Tortall.
- Protector of the Small has Keladry following in the footsteps of Alanna and dealing with misogyny and other kinds of prejudice, teenage crushes, and deciding what chivalry means to her (for the answer, take another look at the title of her series).
- Aly of Daughter of the Lioness is the daughter of a legend and leads a life that's both idle and frustrated until she's dumped into another country's burgeoning civil war, where she gains a real sense of maturity about spywork.
- In Provost's Dog, Beka goes from a Shrinking Violet to a tough cop who manages to get justice despite the corruption, logistical, and bureaucratic difficulties of Tortall's nascent police force.
- Zahrah the Windseeker begins with Zahrah's parents celebrating her becoming a woman (her menarche), which is followed by a quest as well as a journey of self-discovery in the Forbidden Greeny Jungle.
- Idlewild is the story of a teenage boy who realizes his world has been shaped by lying adults and is faced with the responsibility to support himself and others. Also, there's an apocalypse.
- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man follows the struggles of Author Avatar Stephen Dedalus as he tries to grow up and not to be shackled down by the political and familial situations he was born into.
- Author Sarah Dessen specializes in these. All of her novels are coming of age stories for her protagonist, usually following their last school year or last summer before college as they come to terms with their messed up families, gain some true friends and/or fall in love for the first time (sometimes all three).
- Damnatio Memoriae by Laura Marcelle Giebfried follows Enim Lund as he is rather forced to leave the last bit of his childhood behind.
- Molly Carpenter is not the protagonist of The Dresden Files, but her life mentor is, so this trope is depicted through a different lens. White Night and Ghost Story, in particular, focus on her assumption of responsibility as a sorcerer and an adult. To her dismay, however, Sex as Rite-of-Passage is not played straight.
- Pharaoh follows Ramesses's personal growth from an irresponsible prince to the ruler of all Egypt. Subverted Trope - his development is superficial, he remains ruled by his impulses and gets murdered because of The Vamp. And politics, but The Vamp was the immediate cause.
- The Secret Garden: For both Colin and Mary.
- Jezycjada is a Coming of Age in modern Poznań series.
- The series May Bird is one for the titular character, the third book in particular as it features her finally becoming the strong warrior she saw herself as in the first book.
- Wings of Fire books in the main series follow an adolescent dragon POV as they mature over the course of the book. Definitely the compressed development variety, since the timespan of a Wings of Fire book tends to be a few weeks at most, with some only lasting a few days.
- Aeon Legion: Labyrinth is basically a story about a girl named Terra graduating high school and enlisting in a time traveling army. She leaves her home for the first time and enters a strange new world that constantly challenges her assumptions. Part of Terra's growth actually comes from her realization that she is not special and that she has to struggle and work hard to gain anything.
- Little House on the Prairie: Nellie and Willie Oleson both do this in the later years of the series, shedding their mama's pampering – much to her chagrin – to become responsible, hard-working adults. Nellie did this in the Season 6 finale, "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not," while Willie's stories gradually came in the final two seasons over multiple episodes..
- Smallville depicts Superman's teenage years, and deals with both his and his friends' maturation into adults. Along the way, many a monster is defeated.
- Doctor Who uses this as a common theme. Most of the companions go through a coming of age brought about by their travels with the Doctor.
- My Mad Fat Diary chronicles the life of Rae, a 16-year old girl suffering from both mental health problems and obesity.
- HBO's Rome contains a few examples. Brutus goes from a half-drunk socialite controlled by the whims of fate and his manipulative mother to a self-dpossessed stoic cutting the straps from his armor as he walks alone against an entire platoon. Octavian meanwhile goes from a geeky wimp at the start of the series to a very, very, creepy Magnificent Bastard in the close.
- Malcolm in the Middle:
Dabney: I'm not your little boy anymore. I'm your little man!
- The series as a whole revolves around the eponymous Malcolm and his journey through adolescence; as a genius-level teenager, he is often under pressure by those around him, and struggles to find a healthy balance between living up to his potential and doing teenager stuff. His older brother, Reese, is an unintelligent bully who gradually comes to realise that his antisocial behaviour won't work in real life. The oldest brother of all, Francis, was sent to military school for his destructive pranks; he was just as bad when he was in military school, but became more mature when he travelled to work in an Alaskan logging camp and then on a cowboy ranch.
- One episode revolved around Malcolm trying to help his classmate Dabney get into a paintball match despite the resistance of Dabney's overbearing mom. Once Dabney unleashes years of repressed aggression, his mom comes around to try to drag him off.
- Troy has one in the Community episode "Mixology Certification". Over the course of the night on his 21st birthday, his idolization of Jeff and Britta is replaced with the realization they can be just as ignorant as he is at times. Jeff even explicitly tells him he is a man now.
- Boy Meets World is about an eleven year old who doesn't understand anything about his entire life but is told love is worth it. As he grows up he learns to understand life and love until he reaches the point where he and his life partner set out into the unknown together.
- The Sequel Series to Boy Meets World, 'Girl Meets World'' is about Cory and Topanga's daughter Riley facing the same life challenges that her father did when he was her age.
- Red Dwarf had one in the episode 'Holoship'. Rimmer seems to realize that he doesn't want to be an officer. He wants someone who will love him. Hence why he's not super-excited when he becomes one, and he immediately gives it up when he realizes the woman he loves can't be with him.
- Verano Azul is one of these, as it centers around a bunch of Spanish children and pre-teens who spend a whole summer in a beautiful beach town and as the days pass, learn many things about themselves and others. Plus their Cool Old Guy mentor dies right at the end.
- Avicii's "Wake Me Up" describes one such story:
So wake me up when it's all over
When I'm wiser and I'm older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn't know I was lost
When I'm wiser and I'm older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn't know I was lost
- Persephones myth is sometimes interpreted as a story of moving from girlhood to womanhood. Persephone leaves her mother’s side (whether unwillingly or not, it depends on the version) and takes on new responsibilities as a wife and Queen of the Underworld. The Eavan Boland poem 'Pomegranate' uses the myth as an allegory for a mother learning to let go of her daughter - and it ends with the mother willingly giving her daughter the pomegranate to eatnote .
- Misspent Youth is a game where you play as a rebellious youth. Predictably, growing up is a central theme, and is even a central mechanic of the game. A player can Sell Out one of his or her Convictions to—amongst other choices—grow up, losing the Conviction permanently, but hopefully winning a conflict. The game ends when a player runs out of Convictions—potentially having grown up completely.
- Masks: A New Generation puts a Superhero twist on this trope by having the characters be a Super Team of rookie superheroes, with the game mechanics focusing on the development of their self-image. Advanced abilities are even referred to in the rules as "Adult Moves".
- The musical A Chorus Line crams sixteen coming-of-age stories into the montage "Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Love".
- Thirteen is the literal version of this since it is about the main character's Bar Mitzvah. Of course he is forced to grow up and figure out who his real friends are when he moves to a new town and tries to have the biggest party ever.
- Vanities follows three women from high school in 1963 to college in 1968, and adulthood in 1974, and the musical version adds a fourth act set in the 1980's.
- Shakespeare's four plays, Richard II, Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 2 and Henry V either depict the wayward Prince Hal's coming of age and taking the throne as a triumphant warrior king, or it depicts Prince Hal tricking everyone into believing it's his coming of age story.
- Mega Man Star Force seems to be one of these, as the main character (Geo) starts out by shutting out the world in the first game, then grows up through the second game, so that by the third he is able to step up and take charge of the gang when Luna Platz has been datafied.
- In Mass Effect 2 this is Grunt's loyalty mission. As a young member of his species, and a tank-bred clone for that matter, finding an identity is important to him. Being a Krogan, Grunt's coming-of-age ceremony relates to him learning to control his innate aggressions; on a more abstract level, he is often seeking the advice and approval of those around him, and interactions with him typically entail helping him sort out his identity and making him a valuable member of his current group.
- Both the A and B routes of Blaze Union, which deal with Gulcasa and Aegina respectively. The A route goes over more of the traditional story elements covered by this trope, whereas Aegina's path deals more with coming to terms with grief and the truth and finding one's place in the world.
- Some Pokémon games play with this. Ostensibly, a meek kid from a town in the middle of nowhere becomes powerful and confident, growing more mature over their journey and becoming a battle protégé. The first installment in the series even refers to the protagonists journey as this. From the player's perspective, the Player Character, who is largely featureless, is mostly a receptacle for other characters to speak into, with your rival(s) receiving the actual character development; the player is left to imagine the player character's maturation for himself.
- Fallout 3 is often seen as one. After all, your player character goes from a teenager in a fallout shelter to being the hardened survivor of the wasteland.
- FinalFantasyXI: One could make a case for every expansion being this—along with the base game's three overlapping storylines—but Wings of the Goddess hits all the key notes so hard it sings. For the first time, you're not just a random adventurer who got pulled into a world-shaking crisis. You're TheChosenOne of Altana Herself, charged with going back in time and putting an end to the Crystal War to stop the Goddess's sorrow. Not that you know any of this starting out—in fact, it's your actions that spur the villains' plans into motion, and nobody in your time knows about the crisis except a plucky heroine. After a long, arduous journey frought with battles, ending with the salvation of reality itself, only two people know anything happened—one's you, and the other had to erase herself from existence.
- Tales of the Abyss for Luke. He starts out as a self-centered, sheltered brat, goes through phases of Jerkass, Heroic B.S.O.D., The Atoner and various identity complexes, and ends up declaring his independence from the quasi-father-figure Big Bad and saving the world. Yay!
- Tales of Graces is also technically a coming of age story, due to the prologue-maingame-future arc structure, but the development is spread across five characters - Asbel, Cheria, Hubert, Richard and Sophie - so it ends up a little less focused.
- "Tales of Vesperia" acts as a moral coming-of-age for all its characters as well.
- Beyond: Two Souls is essentially a story of Jodie evolving from shy child, through angsty teenager, to badass adult, all the while learning to cope with her otherness and loneliness resulting from it.
- Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons becomes a coming of age story for the younger brother, the catalyst for growth being his older brother's death. Near the end, he overcomes his fear of water by swimming across a river alone. Made more powerful by the fact that this is triggered by the action button that is normally reserved for the older brother.
- Oxenfree has been described as a coming-of-age story for the protagonist Alex and her friends.
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker starts with the main protagonist Link going through his small, sleepy fishing village's rite-of-passage on his twelfth birthday, the day he's officially considered an adult. He's forced to do a lot of growing up quickly when his world is turned upside down by the sudden kidnapping of his younger sister, Aryll, and he's forced to combat a malevolent and frighteningly powerful entity that destroyed the ancient world. By the end of the game, he's defeated and killed the Big Bad Ganondorf, and sets off to establish an entirely new kingdom with Tetra and her pirates.
- Little Busters! is largely the story of how Riki, a rather meek and unconfident young man constantly following after his friends, manages to become stronger and more able to handle things on his own. To a slightly lesser extent, the same is also true for Rin.
- All three of Fate/stay night's routes, each corresponding to a different one of the Three Faces Of Adam. The first two (corresponding to the hunter and the lord) leave some of his future developments open. The last route, Heaven's Feel (corresponding to the prophet), follows it to its inevitable conclusion.
- Invoked in Homestuck. The game Sburb is designed to force its players to grow as people, and the protagonists are playing it together. Some characters are challenged to face their fears (Tavros, Eridan, Dave); others are...encouraged to overcome insecurities or flaws (Vriska, Kanaya, Nepeta).
- Stand Still, Stay Silent: This is happening to all four younger members of the crew. Emil starts out as New Meat, Reynir as a Sheltered Aristocrat and the Hotakainens, while no strangers to the hardships of the real world by comparision to them, are still going against their guardian's wishes for the first time by joining the expedition.
- Beneath The Clouds: Masako starts out as a rather naive teenager unsure of her place in the world but discovers several surprising things about herself over the course of her journey.
- Gargoyles has a rather subtle story arc featuring Brooklyn changing from a wild-hearted hipster into an effective second-in-command and a brilliant tactician, yet a romantically frustrated character. The episode Kingdom highlights this.
- The Character Development of Sokka, Katara, but especially Aang and Zuko of Avatar: The Last Airbender involves a lot of this.
- South Park:
- The show has been toying with these in later seasons. "You're Getting Old" and "Assburgers" plays this mostly straight for Stan; "1%" flips this trope around in its handling of Cartman.
- "Smug Alert!" has the town realize that their own smugness caused a terrible storm and that driving hybrid cars was the sole cause of it, even though Kyle points out that it's possible to drive a hybrid without being a douche about it.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has "The Cutie Mark Chronicles", which shows how the Mane Six discovered their own special talents and earned their cutie marks, which fans agree is definitely not a metaphor for adolescence.
- Parodied in The Powerpuff Girls (2016) episode "Horn Sweet Horn". It features a pony who wants to be a unicorn. Near the end his mother arrives with a gang of unicorns and informs him she needs to tell him something, but she needed to wait until he was old enough and had gone on "an intense journey of adolescent self discovery". His mother reveals that she's a unicorn, and then pulls back his mane to show that he had a horn the entire time but didn't notice it due to having Messy Hair.
- Steven Universe has Steven, who grows from a Tagalong Kid to becoming an equal member of the Gems, while also fulfilling the same role his mother had in protecting the Earth.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars has Ahsoka, who grows from snippy and aggressive to open-minded and wise.
- Star Wars Rebels has Ezra and Sabine, as a Deconstruction of the Kid Hero genre. The former having been alone for years and finds himself becoming surrounded by both good and bad people, while the latter has already been caught between all sorts of people and wants to be alone. Both believe they have seen the worse of the Galaxy, unaware of the burdens that come with becoming leaders and soldiers in a fight where everything seems to be against them. As Word of Saint Paul puts it for Sabine, she is a character that 'must sacrifice who she is now for who she must become'.
Examples of Late Bloomer Subversions:
Anime & Manga
- Y: The Last Man features a reasonably realistic delayed coming of age story amongst the Gendercide, war, cloning, cultists and conspiracies going on all over the place.
- Scott Pilgrim has this with the titular character Scott Pilgrim. Having lived more or less the same, his life becomes more dangerous and everything is shaken up when he meets Love Interest Ramona. While fighting her Evil Exes, he (along with Ramona herself) end up recognizing their faults and troubles and learning how to overcome them. Scott's friends also have this a lesser extent (Kim overcoming the tension between her and Scott since high school, Steven coming out of the closet, Knives becoming a young woman and so on.) Notable in that everyone hasn't finished growing, but they're on the right track.
Films — Animated
- Simba of The Lion King becomes convinced by Timon and Pumbaa to live a carefree hedonistic lifestyle that carries on well into adulthood, avoiding his past and his responsibilities as the future king. Only after Rafiki gives him a rather creative lesson on facing his past does he decide to grow up and go back to reclaim his rightful throne.
Films — Live-Action
- Black Swan Nina is close to 30, still lives with her mother and is quite sexually naive. This makes her perfect to play The Ingenue White Swan in the production of Swan Lake. But she must embrace her sexuality and grow up to be able to play the Femme Fatale Black Swan.
- The 40-Year-Old Virgin. It's in the title—the question is rather who the truly mature person is: Andy or his partying friends?
- Failure to Launch. Doubly subverted. Tripp is presented to the audience as a 35-year old who has failed to transition into adulthood, as are all his overgrown-child friends. By the end of the movie, however, we find that Tripp's apparently juvenile behavior is not "failure to launch" but because his fiancee died and his friends' situations are also not as they seem.
- Kicking & Screaming by Noah Baumbach is about a group of recent college graduates who completely refuse to move on with their lives.
- The Iron Man movie is basically about Tony Stark going from an extremely rich manchild to an extremely rich man. By building a robot suit and fighting crime.
- The Third Man: Holly Martins is something of a Man Child: the books he makes a living writing are Escapist westerns with Black and White Morality. His naive search for justice in the death of his best friend Harry Lime forces him to come to terms with a World Half Empty.
- Gran Torino: Walter Kowalsky, even when he is a senior who has raised a family, still lives emotionally as the young soldier that crossed the Moral Event Horizon at the Korean War. He must acknowledge he is a Grumpy Old Man Jaded Washout Cranky Neighbor Racist Grandpa who has alienated his own family and now that his wife has died is completely alone, so he can be a real Badass Grandpa Papa Wolf.
- Labyrinth has a 16 year old girl at the start of the movie throwing tantrums like a 12 year old. It takes having to use her brain a bit and making some genuinely tough choices in order for her to appreciate what she has. Plus meeting David Bowie, that probably help the old hormones.
- The film version of Fight Club is essentially this, in contrast with the Downer Ending of the book.
- Frances Ha features a 27 year old aspiring (and underemployed) dancer whose life is on autopilot, with her both revisiting her youth and trying to find greater certainty in her future. By the end of the film, her life seems to be on something resembling the right path, but she still has trouble wholly adapting to the adult world.
- In A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner!, Timmy has decided to keep acting like a child well into his twenties so he doesn't have to be separated from his fairy godparents. When he falls in love with Tootie, he ultimately has to choose between staying a Man Child or growing up so he can be with her. In the end, he grows up but Jorgen allows him to keep his fairy godparents anyway since he loved them so much, as long as he no longer uses them for selfish wishes.
- The World's End is about five men reuniting to finish a pub crawl they never managed to finish when they were young adults. Four of them have moved on... Gary King hasn't. He's still wearing the same old clothes, driving the same car and talking the same old crap. Luckily the events of the film force him to grow up a bit and starting taking responsibility for his shortcomings. Well, MOST of his shortcomings.
- Sirens has this happening to a repressed Edwardian housewife as she visits real-life artist Norman Lindsey, and meets his free-spirited models. The models engage in a Corrupt the Cutie with her and a maid in the household - but it's shown as a sign of positive character growth.
- A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints constantly flashes back to the protagonist's life as a teenager, but his actual coming of age doesn't happen until he's in his thirties and finally revisits the father he ran away from.
- Cerberon features the coming of age of the eponymous unicorn. While already an adult at around twenty years old, he learns through the course of the novel what it takes to be a real unicorn and not just a pretty, well-educated horse with a pointy thing on his head.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one enormous coming-of-age story (only, you know, with monsters and superpowers) for Buffy, Willow and Xander, and the run of the series is structured to follow specific stages of adolescence.
- Friends is a sitcom focusing on young adults growing into their 30s and settling down with families.
- In the Firefly episode Jaynestown, the local magistrate, Higgins, has hired Inara to bed his timid son Fess, who is 26 and is not yet "a man". She reassures the naïve Fess that he need not be like his father, only to be himself, which will make him stronger. Afterwords, in Inara's shuttle, Fess expresses disappointment in not feeling different after losing his virginity.
Inara: You're very quiet.Fess: I'm sorry. I just...I just thought I'd feel... different... after. Aren't I supposed to be a man now?Inara: A man is just a boy who's old enough to ask that question. Our time together... It's a ritual, a symbol. It means something to your father. I hope it was not entirely forgettable for you.Fess: No, it was...Inara: But it doesn't make you a man. You do that yourself.
[Fess ends up proving himself a man by defying his father's attempt to capture the "hero of Canton" who was traveling with Inara.]
- The characters of The Big Bang Theory are all in their thirties, but initially were fairly immature, despite being accomplished scientists. Over the course of the series they have slowly been transitioning to adulthood. The two standout exampels are Howard, who started out as a Casanova Wannabe living with his mother, and is now married with a child of his own, and Sheldon, who, over the course of the show, fell in love for the first time, lost his virginity, slowly began developing empathy and social skills, and moved in with his girlfriend.
- Avenue Q. Princeton is a college grad, but he's still not ready for real adult life.
- The Musical version of American Idiot does this with its three protagonists, Johnny, Will, and Tunny, who are in their early to mid-twenties.
- Company, for Bobby.
Joanne: You're not a kid anymore, Robby! I don't think you'll ever be a kid again, kiddo!
- Big part of Receiver of Many is how Persephone changes from an already physically mature but still very sheltered and childlike woman into a powerful Queen of the Underworld, and how she learns to built more mature and healthier relationships with people around her – especially Hades and Demeter.
- Star Wars Rebels has Kanan, who experienced Order 66 when he just began his Padawan training and deployment into the Clone Wars, and because of that, he never grew past the thinking process of a teenager until the events of the show. His defining trait is focus, but this also means that he cannot multitask without worrying that the task he is currently on will never work, leading him to become oblivious to others' opinions or more practical methods, like becoming unaware of Hera's worry when he has to leave for Malachor soon, or his Determinator behavior to keep Ezra under control and safe rather than putting faith in him. It usually takes for someone to tell him about taking the obvious solution for him to snap out of it.