Mum Looks Like a Sister

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The "mums in aprons" style can be useful in telling the kids from the parents.

Because of either Older Than They Look or Younger Than They Look, a parent looks about the same age as their child, enough to be mistaken for siblings. This happens most often with mothers and daughters, but it can work with any gender combination.

See also Absurdly Youthful Mother and the other subtropes, especially Adoptive Peer Parent and Mistaken Age. This can be invoked in a Family Relationship Switcheroo, to prevent anyone from realizing they actually are mother and child. In live-action, Playing Gertrude introduces this effect, because due to age of the actors Mum should be a sister.

Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • A commercial for Post Grape Nuts shows a man attempting to surprise his girlfriend, only to accidentally catch her similar-looking mother.
    Mrs. Burke: Dale's my teenage daughter. We're often confused.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Gourmet Girl Graffiti: Shiina and her mother, pictured above. Their maid Tsuyuko is first thought to be Shiina's mother by Kirin.
  • Mentioned in Episode 4 of Ikki Tousen, by Hakufu complaining that this is what people say about her own mother.
  • In Daily Life with Monster Girl, Miia, Papi and Centorea's mothers all have this going for them. Especially Papi, as the harpy race as a whole is Older Than They Look.
  • Nana Sawada, mother of protagonist Tsunayoshi from Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, is in her mid-late thirties but looks barely older than her teenage son.
  • In Zodiac PI, Lili's mother mentions in a flashback that she (again) was mistaken as Lili's older sister.
  • Miyuki Asaka of Game X Rush falls squarely into this trope; even the mangaka mentions that "I feel like her face and personality are stuck as a little girl forever." Also a borderline Type 1 case since simple math shows she'd have been 18 when she had her son.
  • In Otaku no Musume-san, Taeko and her mother are respectively Younger and Older Than They Look. Taeko is occasionally assumed to be the mother although she's still in high school.
  • Kusanagi in The Sky Crawlers looks about twelve to fifteen, but is older than she looks.
  • In a similar vein to Sanae, Miyuki Takara's mother Yukari in Lucky Star looks like she could pass herself off as an older sister. Then again, it is an Improbably Female Cast. And if Yukari, then certainly Miki, the mother of Inori, Matsuri, Kagami, and Tsukasa. She's claimed to be 47, and although it was a lie (she thought it was cute and expected), a 47-year-old woman could easily have two college-age and two teenage daughters... but she still looks like she could be one of the sisters herself.
  • Ah! My Goddess: Takano Morisato could pass for a sister of Keiichi and Megumi, instead of their mother.
  • Medaka Box plays this one title-straight, with Zenkichi's mother Hitomi being mistaken for his little sister during her introduction chapter.
  • Similarly, from Masamune's Revenge: Hayase Kinue (42); for comparison, her daughter Chinatsu (middle school year 2).
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Bulma's mother. While Bulma's character model is appropriately updated for her age, as she goes from 16 to 43, her mother's never changes. The result is that in some of her last appearances she actually looks younger than her own daughter.
    • Android 18, though she does look a little older by the time GT rolls around. Word of God states that, while she does age, she does so more slowly than a normal human.
    • Once Saiyans reach adulthood, they retain their youth and prime far longer than humans and don't show visible signs of aging until around 80. In this screenshot of Goku and his family, please note that Goku is 47 years old. To the left in that screenshot is his 17 year old son Goten, who looks more like his dad's twin brother with a different hairstyle. Goku looks young enough that Pan (the little girl also found on the left) can pass as his daughter, even though she's his granddaughter.
  • Akira's parents in Family Complex could pass off as 17 despite being in their 40s. Lampshaded in the Princess Princess bonus story when Toru and Yuujiro visits the Sakamoto household try to guess who is who in the Sakamoto family. They initially assume Akira's mother to be his sister but can't even tell if she's older or younger than him. Then they mistook his father as Akira's older brother, "the legendary Sakamoto-sama" they were so keen to meet.
  • In Code:Breaker, Sakura's mother was mistaken as her elementary school sister. It also doesn't help that she likes to cosplay as one.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Jotaro Kujo is 40 years old and a father as of Stone Ocean, but you'd never know it from the way he's drawn. At most, he looks maybe a couple of years older than his teenage daughter.
    • Before that, there was Lisa Lisa, a fifty-year-old woman who looked no older than her son, Joseph Joestar thanks to her Ripple training. Joseph's brain takes over two pages to process the idea that she could possibly be over twenty.
    • Jotaro's own mother Holly has the personality and appearance of someone much, much younger than forty-five, with only a few wrinkles to show for it (even then they only appear in a few panels).
    • Likewise her father Joseph is youthful enough during Stardust Crusaders thanks to his Ripple training that he could pass off as Jotaro's father instead of his 67 year old grandfather.
  • Suite Pretty Cure ♪ has Kanade's mom Misora. When the fans first saw her on the previews for episode 4, they thought she was a candidate for a possible Sixth Ranger.
  • Tamako Market: Tamako's mother, Hinako, looked almost exactly like her daughter, one can assume she was this. Mochizou's mother, Michiko, definitely counts, she looks young enough to be mistaken for her son's older sister.
  • A Certain Magical Index has Shina and Misuzu, the mothers of Touma and Mikoto respectively. Misuzu in particular has a 14 year old daughter and looks like she's twenty, which caused both Touma and his father to mistake her for Mikoto's sister when they first met her. She's noted to be a bit jealous of Shina, though, because Misuzu has to go to a great deal of effort to look and act that young, while for Shina it comes naturally.
  • Haiyore! Nyarko-san gives us Yoriko Yasaka, who appears at most to be in her late 20s, an impression aided by her being a hardcore Gamer Chick who loves outdated consoles. The real disconnect comes when you put her alongside her 17-year-old son Mahiro, which makes Yoriko look much more like an overly affectionate Cool Big Sis than a mother. This gets emphasized even further in an episode where Yoriko flashes back to the day her husband proposed; the only visible change after roughly two decades is her hairstyle.
  • In Karin, Fumio looks to be about the same age as her sixteen-year old son, Kenta. The reactions to this is a bit of a Running Gag in the manga.
    • Elda takes it even further. She could probably pass off as Karin's twin sister, and Karin is her granddaughter.
  • Umi Monogatari has Miyako, Kanon's mother. She looks young enough to be one of her daughter's friends, and has the personality to match.
  • Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea. In the film May compliments Lizabeth's mother Meredith by saying she thought Meredith was Elizabeth's sister. This is Playing with a Trope because Meredith is clearly an adult and older than Lizabeth as can be seen here.
  • Maka's father Spirit Albarn from Soul Eater looks more like her older brother. This was the result of a Teen Pregnancy and marriage, as both Spirit and his ex-wife being 18 when Maka was born.
  • Momoko Takamichi from Lyrical Nanoha. In the first two series, she at least looks old enough to possibly be an Absurdly Youthful Mother to Nanoha, a third-grader...but certainly not old enough to have two children in high school. This is due to the fact that in the original Triangle Heart 3: Sweet Songs Forever continuity, Kyouya is her step-son and Miyuiki is her niece. Then the Time Skip happens, aging Nanoha up to 19, and Momoko still looks like she's in her twenties.
  • In Engaged to the Unidentified, Hakuya and Mashiro's mother looks like she's in her mid-20's at most (her children are both teenagers) and even then she is almost as tiny as Mashiro.
    • Benio, who is both a lolicon and a siscon, happily calls her a "loli mom".
  • In World Trigger, Osamu's mother Kasumi is this, and people constantly assume she's his older sister. Osamu and Kasumi even correct Karasawa in unison after he calls Kasumi his sister, much to his surprise.
  • In Silver Spoon, when Yugo first sees Tamako's mother, he assumes she's Tamako's older sister. She's obviously flattered.
  • In High School D×D, Venelana looks like a brunette version of her redheaded daughter Rias, to the point Issei thinks Venelana is Rias's sister. He doesn't get to say anything out loud, Rias sees Issei staring at Venelana, correctly concludes what he must be thinking, and heads him off at the pass:
    "No matter how much you wish for it, nothing is going to happen between you and my mother."

    Comic Books 
  • In Marvel Comics, the Eternals of Earth are immortal, and appear as whatever age they want. Thus, Cybelle looks no older than her daughter Thena, although both are several millennia old.

    Fanfiction 

    Film - Animation 

    Film - Live Action 
  • In Alfred Hitchcock's North By Northwest, Cary Grant was 55 years-old. Jessie Royce Landis, who played his mother, was 63 years-old, meaning she would have to have given birth when she was 8 years old.
  • In The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Angela Lansbury was only three years older than Laurence Harvey, who played her son. In the books it's stated that Eleanor had Raymond when she was only 17, and as a result still looks fairly young, but not that close.
  • Angela Lansbury was nine years and three months older than Elvis Presley, who played her character's son in Blue Hawaii.
  • In Earthquake (1974), Lorne Greene and Ava Gardner — only seven years apart in age — played father and daughter.
  • In Nowhere Boy (2009), John Lennon's mother Julia looks way to young to be a mom
  • In the film version of Harold Robbins’ Where Love Has Gone (1964), Bette Davis plays Susan Hayward’s mother, despite being barely ten years older.
  • Pluto's mom in The Adventures of Pluto Nash. Dina comments to her that she could be passed off as his sister.
  • Ann Margret, who is only three years older than Roger Daltrey, plays the mother of Tommy.

    Literature 
  • It's been mentioned a few times in The Hollows that witches age slowly once they reach adulthood, which presumably leads to a lot of this. Case in point: Rachel's mother is past retirement age for a human, but can pass for Rachel's sister with the right clothes.
  • In Sweet Valley High, Jessica and Elizabeth's mother is in her late 30s-early 40s (thanks to frequent Retcon between different ghost writers, it changes) but it is often stated that she looks like she is in her 20s, and is usually mistaken for the twins' older sister.
  • In War of the Dreaming, Wendy and her mother, Queen Titania, are said to look about the same age, or even that her mother is younger looking. Justified, since she is an immortal who never ages.
  • In The Riftwar Cycle, Miranda is often commented on as looking younger than her (presumably mid-30s) son. As a kicker, she's at least 300 years older.
  • Inverted in the Maeve Binchy novel Evening Class, where despite not being much older than her daughter (she had her at sixteen), most outsiders correctly assume that Fran and Kathy are mother and daughter rather than sisters, as the daughter has been led to believe.
  • Any Danielle Steel character who either is or becomes a mother in the course of the book is frequently said to look more like her child's older sister.
  • In Discount Armageddon, then 22-year-old Verity Price muses on the fact that because both of her grandmothers look much younger than their chronological ages (her paternal grandmother spending the bulk of her time in dimensions where time passes differently and her maternal grandmother being a cuckoo, i.e. a human-looking being evolved from something rather closer resembling a parasitic wasp), they look more like her sisters than her elders, and will probably continue looking young when Verity herself is their current ages (though it's doubtful if anyone at all knows how old Angela Baker actually is). In Chaos Choreography, four years later, we meet Alice Price, and she looks young enough to be a close-in-age sibling of Verity.

    Live Action TV 
  • Ann's mother in Arrested Development— Michael can't believe that Ann's mom is so hot, and covers it by claiming he can believe she's so young. Maeby asks if she looks old enough to play Topher Grace's mom.
  • Merlin (2008): Merlin's mother Hunith looked normal enough in the first season, when Merlin himself appeared extremely young and was described as a "young boy" in the Opening Narration. Five years pass in the show's time-line, and when Hunith reappears, looking exactly the same as she did half a decade ago despite her son's sudden growth spurt (and now referred to as "a young man"), she is suddenly this trope. She almost looks younger in her series 4 appearance than in her series 1 appearance, while Merlin has definitely gone from boy to man. Judge for yourself: Hunith and Merlin in Series 1, Hunith and Merlin in Series 4.
  • In Gilmore Girls, Lorelai and Rory are so close in age (Lorelai was a teen mom) that they often seemed more like sisters. The beginning of the series even has an unsuspecting male who hits on both of the Gilmore girls, separately.
    • In one episode, Lorelai takes her mother, Emily, to a bar, and a man Emily's age starts to flirt with her. He claims to be surprised that they're a mother and daughter—but Lorelai warns him that if he finishes that statement with this trope, she'll take it as an insult.
  • On Once Upon a Time, due to a curse that left Snow White and Prince Charming effectively frozen in time for 28 years, they look like they're around the same age as their daughter, Emma.
  • On Lost Girl, Fae age considerably slower than humans, so, for instance, succubi Bo and her mother Aife could easily pass as sisters; Inga Cadranel (Aife) is younger than Anna Silk (Bo).
  • On Mom, Bonnie says that this trope is one of the benefits of having a child at an incredibly young age. She used to pass Christy off as her own sister. Christy really does look young enough to pass for Violets older sister, but acknowledges that she's a mother.
  • Reign: Anna Walton, who portrays Diane de Poitiers, is less than three years older than Torrance Coombs, who plays her son Sebastian, and it shows.
  • In Torchwood: Children of Earth, Captain Jack is revealed to have an adult daughter, Alice. But, as he is immortal and doesn't age, she looks a few years older than he does. In order to keep Jack's true nature a secret from Stephen, Alice's son, the boy knows Jack as his uncle.
  • Oddly inverted in the sixth season of My Kitchen Rules, where contestants Will & Steve were mistaken by other teams as father & son, even though they are not blood related and Will is only 5 years older than Steve.
  • Inverted on Buffy the Vampire Slayer—in her early twenties, Buffy is Promoted To Parent for her teenage sister, Dawn. In the first episode of Season 7, Principal Wood mistakes her for Dawn's mother, prompting a tiny freak-out. ("It's the hair, isn't it? I have mom-hair.")
  • Invoked by the mother herself on Providence. As the brother Robbie prepares for his wedding, his fiancee's mother introduces herself to everyone she meets as, "I'm Tina's mother. But don't I look more like her sister?", thus revealing herself to be incredibly vain and self-absorbed.
  • On ER, after Sam drops her son off at school, one of his friends comments to him, "Your sister's hot." This is because she had him at only 15.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In a later Peanuts sunday strip, Charlie Brown accompanied by Linus goes to return some mittens he bought for the little Red-Haired Girl as a Christmas gift, but wasn't able to muster the courage to give them to her. Surprisingly, the person who he is talking to is the girl's mother. Linus then comments that when they first came in, they thought she was her older sister.

    Theatre 
  • In Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe, Phyllis sees her 24-year-old boyfriend Strephon embracing a beautiful 17-year-old and assumes he's cheating on her. He hadn't gotten around to mentioning that his mother was a fairy.

    Video Games 
  • Yuki's mother in Grandia III, who is 34 while he is 16, but looks about 20. For most of the game, they have more of a sibling relationship than a typical parent/child one, made clearest by the fact that Yuki calls her "Miranda" rather than "Mom."
    • Hilariously lampshaded in the X-Play review of the game and in Unskippable.
      • ...heyyukiyourmomishot...
  • In Dragon's Lair 2, Princess Daphne has 13 kids, the oldest of whom looks about 13, and she still looks exactly the same as she did in the first game.
  • In FireEmblem: Radiant Dawn, Almedha appears to be a beorc woman in her early or mid thirties, a bit too young to be the mother of Pelleas (who appears to be in his early twenties). She is neither. Fridge Logic means the same applies to Apostle Misaha, who, due to having the exact same brand as her oldest granddaughter, would have still appeared to be in her early thirties when said granddaughter was born.
    • In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of Holy War, at the very least most of the ladies in the first generation looked legit old enough to become a mother. Tailto on the other hand... she's the youngest of the team and kept her 'childish' face throughout the time she's in your party, though her face in the time of her death when she died a broken girl remains unknown. As a result, if she's drawn in a fanart with her daughter Teeny, it's kinda easy to mistake Tailto as her more outgoing sister instead of her mother.
    • Fire Emblem Awakening uses this a lot, but it's justifed due to the children being Kids From The Future. Many support conversations lampshade how the children's parents look more like their siblings.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Big Mama actually looks very well for being almost 80 (and still doing some pretty crazy motorcycle stunts during a highly destructive car chase). Her son Solid Snake also suffers from severe Clone Degeneration and has rapidly aged in the last years to look actually older than her, even though she was over 30 when he was born.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, it is possible to make a character with grey hair and wrinkles. Their relatives, including parents and stated-older siblings, may wind up looking much younger (in game files, the Warden's "official" age is noted as 20).
  • Samurai Warriors: In the third game, Aya looks younger than her generic-faced son, Uesugi Kagekatsu. In the fourth game, once her son has become playable character with unique, they look around the same age.

    Visual Novels 
  • In CLANNAD, Sanae Furukawa looks like she's only slightly older, at most, than her daughter Nagisa. Fitting, seeing as she's a hot mom. She looks young enough to pass for being the granddaughter of her granddaughter's paternal great-grandmother, who is herself quite young for being a great grandmother.
    • Despite the show/game being filled with Generic Cuteness, Tomoya specifically states Sanae's youthful appearance is strange and mysterious. This is made extremely apparent when you compare her to the midwife who delivered little Ushio. This midwife was actually a classmate of Sanae's in high school.
    • She also genuinely was a young mother, explicitly stated to be fresh out of high school when she got pregnant Combine it with this subtrope and it comes as no surprise that she is also a hot grandma, who perfectly could to be mistaken by the mother of her granddaughter, at least.
  • Emi's mother Meiko in Katawa Shoujo, as Hisao points out:
    Meiko: I'm sorry. Forgive an old woman her amusements.
    Hisao: Old woman? She sure doesn't look that old to me. Clearly Emi gets her youthful features from her mother.
  • Asa's mother Ama from SHUFFLE! looks the same age as Asa. But with Ama's character, her cute Nice Hat and her high-pitched voice, she appears even younger than her daughter.
  • In Absolute Despair Girls, Hiroko Hagakure, the mother of Yasuhiro Hagakure from Dangan Ronpa, looks young enough to be Yasuhiro's older sister (Yasuhiro's older than the other students by a few years), resulting in much of the fandom mistaking her for his sister, and Komaru and Fukawa being confused about her age.

    Web Animation 
  • Lampshaded heavily in Bonus Stage when Jessica, Phil's mom, is introduced. We later learn that she looks younger when one of Joel's experiments in de-aging goes haywire.
  • RWBY: Qrow and his old team (including Ruby and Yang's parents) don't look like they've aged a day since they got that photo taken back when they were teenagers.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Daphne's mother from Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated doesn't look too different than her daughter.
  • Queen Glimia from Dave the Barbarian. Same reason as Jane Jetson and Crystal Zilla.
  • In The Jetsons, Jane's 33 and Judy's 16, but they look more or less the same age.
  • Crystal Zilla from My Dad the Rock Star, who looks barely older than her teenager daughter Serenity.
  • Mrs. Ridgemount from Stoked. Let's give an example: look at this picture. One of these women is a middle-aged woman with three kids, the other is a girl in her late teens and the middle-aged woman's daughter. Guess which is which.
  • June Darby of Transformers Prime has a high school aged son (Jack), but could easily pass for a girl in her twenties.
  • In the GoodTimes Entertainment cartoon "Curly The Littlest Puppy" Hayley's mother doesn't look too much older than her oldest brother Michael who's stated to be 16 and all together the parents have 5 kids.
  • Kim Possible and her mother, Anne, look pretty much identical to each other, with a few exceptions: Mrs. Possible is slightly taller in height, has a more pinkish-color to her skin, her hair's shorter and a lighter shade of red, and she's got blue eyes instead of green eyes. There's also this exchange from the Mother's Day episode;
    Dr. Drakken: Kim Possible! And her...sister?
    Mrs. Dr. Possible: Is he hitting on me?
    Kim Possible: Nah, sidekicks just really confuse Drakken.
  • In Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race, this is what Kelly assumes. Her daughter Taylor is understandably confused.
  • In a couple of made-for-TV movies about The Flintstones, Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm have grown up and have kids of their own, yet the Flintstones and Rubbles still look very much the same.
    Wilma: We're going to be grandmothers, Betty!
    Barney: Very young grandmothers, I might add. Right, Grandpa Flintstone?
    Fred: Right you are, Grandpa Rubble.

    Real Life 
  • This picture of a woman and her twin daughters set the internet ablaze, as many who saw couldn't tell at all which one of them was the mother (the woman on the left, if you're wondering). This has been aided by the fact that she is also an Absurdly Youthful Mother—she had them at 19 and is 35 now. The rest she attributes to good genes and good self-care.
  • Kikuko Inoue and her daughter posed as schoolgirls for an ad promoting headphones specifically made to listen to anime songs. Not only Inoue is believable as a classmate of her own daughter, this also goes on to show why she's called the "perpetually 17" voice actress.

Alternative Title(s): Mom Looks Like A Sister, Mother Looks Like A Sister

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MumLooksLikeASister