Mayfly-December Friendship

Romances aren't the only things that are complicated by differences in lifespan. A hero who is immortal (or even extremely long-lived) may outlive his friends as well.

As with Mayfly-December Romance, this is a good way to add Angst to an immortal character and explain their attitude of Who Wants to Live Forever? If they could find a fellow immortal to share their lives with or discover some way to make their current true companions immortal, they might change their minds and decide that Living Forever Is Awesome.

Of course, this is not always possible, and even if it is, it could end badly. Another option is to make the immortal mortal, but, again, this is not always possible. More often, the star-crossed friends just have to learn to live with it.

It should be noted that a character need not be immortal for this trope to qualify. She/he simply needs to be much longer-lived than the friend in question.

There are different varieties of Mayfly December Friendship, depending on whether the immortal and mortal are the same age or not. It also varies based on whether the situation is mentioned In-Universe or left for the audience to realize on their own.

Although this resembles and may overlap with Intergenerational Friendship, that trope is about the age gap between friends. Mayfly December Friendship focuses on the fact that one friend, who does not need to be older or younger than the other, will outlive him/her. Additionally, though Mayfly December Friendship can be done with two non-immortals, the life expectancy gap is much greater than would be expected for an Intergenerational Friendship.

Sister Trope to Mayfly-December Romance. May result from Interspecies Friendship.
Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Banner of the Stars. Though she doesn't show it much openly, Lafiel does worry at times about her friendship with Jinto, since Abh live much longer than humans do.
  • In Yona of the Dawn, it's revealed that Zeno is actually two thousand years older than the rest of the gang and has previously outlived their previous friends.

Comic Books
  • The Incredible Hulk and all his various friendships if The Incredible Hulk: The End is to be believed. He is the last sentient being on the entire planet Earth. Even Banner dies, and the Hulk is finally alone, as he has always requested.
  • Superman is sometimes portrayed as immortal, meaning that he will outlive the human friends he cares about. It becomes a plot point in Superman/Batman #76. Superman is talking to Wonder Woman in the wake of Bruce Wayne's death. Clark is discussing how they'll outlive everyone they know and how they're higher beings. Diana stops him, telling him that no matter how he wants to rationalize it, he's just a man grieving for a lost friend.
  • The Smurfs, by way of being able to live for centuries, have this kind of relationship with their human friends, such as Johan and Peewit.
  • Wolverine was born in the late-19th century. Even ignoring that most of his friends have been fellow soldiers, mercenaries, assassins, X-Men, and others who can be expected to have their lives cut unnaturally short, his longevity alone guarantees that he will eventually outlive every single one of his friends. His daughter/Opposite-Sex Clone X-23 faces the same future, a fact which she has yet to address in the books.

Fan Works
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series Fan Fic Always Tomorrow, a disabled Kirk mentions this, saying that Spock shouldn't leave Starfleet to be with him, because he will die while Spock is still fairly young, leaving him with nothing. Spock counters that he was alone before Kirk's arrival and being alone after his death will be worse if he can't even have the time with him that's possible.
  • In We Are All Pokémon Trainers, Umbra, who's immortal, has this relationship with all his mortal friends save for Lina and the Ghost-type members of his team, who are also immortal.
  • In the Fairly Oddparents fanfiction, Never Had A Friend Like Me, the issue of the different lifespans of fairies and genies in comparison to humans comes up near the end. After the Time Skip, Amanda is dying of old age a century after meeting Norm, which is a very short timespan by the standards of magical creatures. Timmy is in a similar situation since Poof, who is younger than him chronologically, is barely a toddler by that point. But Norm solves it by transforming Amanda and Timmy into a genie and fairy respectively.

Films — Animated
  • The soul-destroying theme of Toy Story 2: Jessie, as an unchanging toy, "outlived" Emily's childhood. This is continued in Toy Story 3 where Andy has grown up and no longer needs his toys.

Films — Live-Action
  • Charlotte's Web . Wilbur ends up experiencing this with Charlotte, as she ends up passing away just as he's become a full-grown pig. In a sense, part of it is actually because of Wilbur: Charlotte's eating habits of catching live flies and drinking their blood bothers him immensely and he begins requesting she set flies free, causing her to lose her main food source.
  • In The Green Mile, Paul Edgecomb has learned in his many days in the retirement home to avoid getting close to anyone. Ever since his contact with Magical Negro John Coffey while serving as a prison guard, Paul has outlived all his family, friends and acquaintances ... except one: a tiny mouse likewise touched by Coffey.
  • Although never addressed in the movie, if rats and humans have the same life expectancies in Ratatouille as in Real Life, then the friendship between Linguini (human) and Remy (rat) cannot last for more than a few years.

Literature
  • Dragon Bones: Ward befriends Oreg, who is not only hundreds of years older than he is, but is also more or less immortal, due to being a kind of ghost, or Genius Loci.
  • Dresden Files. Due to wizards living for 300 to 400 years, pretty much every friendship Harry (or any wizard) has with a regular human will be this.
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Immortal Coil dealt with this in connection with Data. Taking place not long after First Contact, the plotline includes Data's emotional realization of what he's always known intellectually — he will almost certainly outlive all of his friends on the Enterprise. And then another set, and another. The actual plot of the book assuaged these fears by introducing a league of artificially created organisms, to which Data could retire whenever he wants. And then Nemesis happened...note 
  • In Safehold, Nimune/Merlin is in a robot body with potential life in the thousands of years, she/he's injected his/her friends with nanites that will give them perfect immunity to infectious illnesses and cancer, but doesn't dare give them life extension treatments because their very public life makes it impossible to do so without it being noticed.
  • The Tolkien'verse:
    • Gandalf is Really 700 Years Old. His friends among the hobbits (Bilbo and Frodo) and humans (Aragorn) are long lived as mortals go; hobbits regularly live past 100 and Aragorn is of the long-lived royal line of Numenor, with some elvish ancestry. However, hobbits rarely make it past 120 and Aragorn himself died at 208. Even after departing to the Undying Lands, the Valar have no power to grant the Ringbearers immortality, and they would eventually expire. Despite the name Undying Lands, this is a common misunderstanding that Tolkien himself cleared up in his Letters.
    • In The Lord of the Rings, Legolas (an immortal elf) and Gimli (a mortal dwarf who may live for centuries) become best friends. Even after traveling ("it is said") with Legolas to the Undying Lands, like with the Hobbits, the Valar have no power to grant Gimli immortality and he eventually must die as well.
  • In M.C.A. Hogarth's The Dreamhealers are about the friendship between Vasiht'h, a Glaseah who could live a couple centuries, and Jahir, an Eldritch capable of living over a millennium.

Live-Action TV
  • Doctor Who. The Doctor is very aware of the fact that he will outlive all his Companions.
    • Captain Jack Harkness has this problem as well. He outlives all his friends and his Torchwood coworkers have a habit of dying young anyways. In one of the Torchwood tie-in novels, there's a flashback to the 1960s where he admits he doesn't so much have friends as acquaintances and what feels like years of comradeship to them feels like mere months to him. Although on a slightly less depressing note, the character he was talking to had seen Jack's future and assures him that the 21st-century team the series focuses on are truly his friends.
  • Played With in New Amsterdam, where an immortal (but looks early 30s) man is great friends with and gets advice from grizzled old black bartender, who it turns out is his son from a relationship he had in the 1930s.
  • When the head of Commander Data (in Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Time's Arrow") is found among 20th-century relics on Earth, the crew attempt to comfort him about his destruction. Rather than being morose about this, Data is delighted that he will have a "death," as his expected longevity means that so many of his friends in Starfleet will have lived and died that he will be unable to remember them all properly; whereas having only a limited few close friends means that Data can cherish them much more dearly. See Literature.
  • In Star Trek: Voyager, Kes and the rest of the crew. Her species, the Ocampa, only live about 9 years, in contrast to longer-lived species like humans, Vulcans, and Talaxians.
  • Moonlight. Played With by Mick and his dog. Every time his dog dies, he gets a new dog of the same breed and gives them the same name and a number. He's up to the 30s by the time of the series.
  • Forever. Morgan and Abe, the former discovering the latter as a healthy infant survivor of a concentration camp. Abe lampshades this when Morgan prepares to move away to Europe to avoid and outlive the person who knows his secret. Morgan could outlive the person, but Abe couldn't.

Music
  • Implied in "Puff the Magic Dragon" by the line, "A dragon lives forever, but not so little boys."

Video Games
  • Fire Emblem often has this with the playable manaketes (Dragons taking humanoid form to survive).
    • Fire Emblem Akaneia. The manaketes Gotoh, Xane, Bantu, and Tiki all befriend Marth. Needless to say, they all outlive him—the first three even outlived Marth's ancestor Anri. In a conversation with Xane, he mentions this as a reason why he has trouble connecting with humans.
    • Fire Emblem Elibe. Half-manaketes Ninian and Nils outlive and never see their human friends if they go through the Dragon's gate. If Ninian stays on Elibe to be with Eliwood, though, it is inverted as due to the world's atmosphere all her human friends outlive her.
    • Fire Emblem Tellius. In the Laguz tribes (animal shapeshifters), all three tribes outlive humans, as do the laguz/human hybrids.
    • Fire Emblem Awakening. In Tiki's support with Nah (a half-manakete), Tiki laments that this is a "curse" of their race, saying Manaketes that care for the human race are destined to suffer because they always outlive them.
  • Halo: Master Chief, a Spartan supersoldier, is paired with an AI named Cortana, and the two grow to become inseparable. However, their friendship contains a dark undertone: Halo-verse AIs live for only seven years before they become rampant, meaning Cortana will have to be killed by then before she goes insane. By the time of Halo 4 Cortana has surpassed her lifespan but is rapidly deteriorating, and Master Chief struggles to get to Earth in hopes of her creator formulating a cure. He fails and Cortana dies, though not before saving John's own life in the process.'
  • Final Fantasy XII: Unlike the rest of the party, Fran is a viera, and her lifespan is three times that of a hume's. Her age is never given (and she refuses to give it when Vaan asks her). She had left Golmore Jungle fifty years before the events of the game - and before any of the other player characters were born. She is friends with Balthier, a hume who is only 22 years old. Though her age is not given, she could very well outlive the rest of the party.
  • A variation (Mayfly December Family) occurs in Mass Effect 2. At one point, you can overhear a conversation between a Salarian tourist and his Asari stepdaughter where he frets about she and her mother will outlive him by several centuries (because Asari live for up to 1,000 years whereas Salarians are lucky if they make it to 40). This is an extremely common issue for the Asari, especially because mating with other species is considered ideal for them, and yet most other species have much shorter lifespans.
    • Even among Shepard's crew, Liara is acutely aware that she'll outlive all of her friends, except possibly Wrex, by around 850 years.
  • Touhou: Fujiwara no Mokou is an immortal human whose best friend is Keine Kawamishira, a half-youkai human. Fanon likes to explore what happens when Keine dies, leaving Mokou entirely alone (the only other immortal is her Arch-Enemy).
  • Wild ARMs 2
    • Marivel Armitage, who is an immortal vampire and the Last of Her Kind, has this kind of friendship with the main characters. She helps work on the group's tech early on in the game, and it's possible to have her join your party late in the second half of the game's story, although she's hesitant to do so as she's afraid of being too attached to people.
    • In a Cut Scene it's shown that Marivel's also developed this kind of friendship with Tony offscreen. Tony is a kid living in Ashley's village. He looks up to her, and implies he wants to become a vampire like her so she won't be alone.

Webcomics
  • Vampire Girl. Levana explains this to Laura as part of her reason for not wanting to be a vampire, on the grounds that she {Levana] will always outlive anyone she may befriend.
  • Discussed in a Meadowhawk strip about dragon lifespans. Two friends, Abraham Pickett and Daniel "the gentle giant" Bloodthorn, both born in 1902, when Abe died in 1994 Daniel (who hadn't even reached his full size yet) swore never to befriend another human because the pain of losing them was too great.

Web Original
  • Toki [1] and Doki, [2], erins, will most certainly outlive any friends or adopted children, as erins tend to live for at least two or three millenia, as is pointed out in one Madgie, what did you do? story. However, they will enjoy generations of descendants.

Western Animation
  • In The Iron Giant, Hogarth is a pre-teen human. The titular giant, unless it can travel very fast through space , is probably hundreds of years old. Given this and the ability to reform itself which it displays in the last scene, it's likely it will outlive Hogarth.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • While it's only Fanon that Princess Celestia is immortal, she has been alive for thousands of years without any sign of wear. Given the word from the creators that "Twilight will not outlive her friends", this means that Celestia will outlive her faithful student. Not to mention Twilight is not Celestia's first personal student...
      • In the comics most of the ponies Celestia explicitly identifies as 'friends' are very elderly, one clearly approaching the end of her life.
    • Spike is younger than Twilight and the others, but it's mentioned in "Dragonshy" that dragons can sleep for a hundred years at a time.
    • Fluttershy and Discord. Her friendship was the key to his Heel-Face Turn, but he's an implied-to-be immortal god of chaos, and she's a decidedly mortal pony.
  • ThunderCats (2011). The protagonists came across a group of plant people named the Petalars, which have a lifespan of a day. Lion-O in particular became friends with one petalar called Emrick who goes from a curious child to an Eager Squire to a level-headed warrior to a wise old man all in the span of said day, and while for the Petalars the Thundercats were lifelong friends who were with them in their intergenerational Exodus, for the Thundercats it was a tragically short friendship.

Real Life
  • Humans and their pets. Most human beings have longer lifespans than dogs and cats, so their pets will probably die before they do.
    • Averted with ravens and large parrots, which have the same lifespan as humans, sometimes even a bit more. It's more common for these birds to outlive their masters than the other way round, since humans tend to grow them from chick age while themselves being adult.
    • Played straight with tortoises; some species live a lot longer than humans.