AKA "perpetual childhood." An old (and in live action, discredited) trope which was implicit in many early sitcoms that focused on the standard American Nuclear Family of father, mother and 2.4 children — the Situation necessary for the Comedy to exist was so rigidly defined that the children could not be allowed to grow up, lest the program dynamic change unrecognizably.
This later became the staple of animated series, in which it is possible to keep a character the same age year after year without major psychological harm to the actor (who, on a cartoon, is usually an adult anyway). Since animation doesn't require actual actors, it's much easier to keep it up in works where the creator can control the physical aspects of the characters.
Contrast with Plot-Relevant Age-Up, Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome, She Is All Grown Up. Compare with Comic Book Time, which applies the same concept to an entire 'Verse. This trope is also quite frequently called a floating timeline. Contrast Contractual Purity, where the actor did grow up and move on to adult roles and adult off-screen behavior, but their fans still expect them to be kids.
Not to be confused with Really 700 Years Old or Not Growing Up Sucks, which is about characters who are somehow unable to age when the rest of the cast does for in-story reasons. Mostly. Part of Status Quo Is God
Ash from Pokémon seems to have fallen foul of this, having been declared as still being 10 years old at the start of Best Wishes! (Black and White, Season 14 outside Japan). Although, it was only in the dub, not the original Japanese.
Former storyboard artist Masamitsu Hidaka explicitly saidin this interview that Ash and his friends remain their respective ages for as long as the show is on, however many years that may be!
To make things more confusing, Ash (in the dub only) noted the one-year anniversary of him and Pikachu meeting. And even more confusing in both the English and Japanese versions, where Ash's voice has deepened a lot in later seasons.
It has happened in many other versions, which cast kids to play Ash's role back in 1998/99, but said kids have since aged and remained doing his voice.
The dub also makes direct reference to a year's time passing between Ash's first two visits to Viridian City.
Also, in Ash's talk with Drew (in the dub at least), one of his lines was something like "- All the friends I met through the years"
And now, after Ash got 8 Unova badges, he learns that he'll have to wait 3 months for the Unova League. If that seems familiar to old timers, it does. He had to wait 2 months between getting his 8th Badge and entering the Indigo League.
Even fans who never minded the apparent lack of any aging of the characters tend to find an official declaration that no time whatsoever has passed in the first 659 episodes to be taking the concept too far.
Just with that, with nearly 800 episodes produced, going one episode per day, Ash's journey would be over two years long to date, and that's not even factoring in the fact that, at times, a short stretch, but still a few days or weeks, have passed between episodes.
If you consider how long many times it's been stated that time has passed in the show, by now, Ash started adventuring at -2 years old
Might apply to the characters of Lupin III. Their ages are indeterminate, and the whole series (which has been going on since the 60s) runs on Negative Continuity, but Lupin is canonically the grandson of Arsene Lupin (who first appeared over a century ago, and was already an adult). Either the characters are much Older Than They Look, or the series should really be called Lupin the Fourth or even Fifth by now.
Even though there have been at least two New Year's Eve-based stories, a slew of Christmases, and too many summer vacations to count, Ranma 1/2 is perpetually fixed in Ranma and Akane's first year of high school (10th grade). Made even more conspicuous since Ranma arrived in the middle of the school year, and both fashion and technology change to reflect the real world (the manga began in 1986, and ended ten years later). There was not one single birthday throughout the entire run, and Kuno, who introduced himself as "Age: 17" in volume 1, would still claim "Seventeen years of age, the epitome of manhood" as late as volume 33, published in 1994.
The anime was especially bad about this. There's been at least one time where it's mentioned that Ranma has been living with the Tendous for at least a year or two — yet he's still sixteen.
Urusei Yatsura is a example of the same. Lum, Ataru, Shinobu, Mendou and the rest were 17 years old and on the cusp of high-school graduation for years on end... And how many summer vacations and Christmases did they have? Although Ataru did have one birthday during the run of both manga and TV aseries (the setup for a plot where he feared Lum had forgotten) which is one more than the Ranma cast got.
The original Astro Boy had this in spades. Though the title character is a robot & is thus justified in not growing up over the course of several decades, his human classmates have no such excuse. What makes this especially odd, is that Astro's "little sister" Uran, also a robot, actually did grow up! She went from being a short, chubby preschooler in her first appearance, to being able to impersonate Astro with a simple costume change, to the point where she looked more grown up than her "big brother", as a slender young woman in the later stories, complete with superfluous (though modest) artificial breasts(!). Tezuka also experimented with drawing Astro looking more like the teenage adventure heroes that were popular at the time, but apparently his readers didn't go for it. They didn't complain about Uran nearly as much, though. Then there's the Astro's Been Stolen story, where an attempt is made to give Astro an adult body, but it turns out to be a piece of junk that only has the same power level as his original despite being much bigger. The story ends with him musing that Growing Up Sucks & if you can avoid it you probably should.
Ouran High School Host Club lampshades this; the manga's narration politely asks the reader to ignore the fact that, despite various seasonal changes, no one has gone up a grade. This practice ends in chapter 72, in which Honey and Mori actually do graduate (as do Nekozawa and Kasanoda), though they promise to stop by every now and then. It comes as quite a shock to Haruhi, and signals a turn towards some slightly more serious and dramatic storytelling for the remainder of the manga.
Pretty Cure initially averted this — the first season ended with several recurring characters graduating from middle school, and the second shows Nagisa and Honoka dealing with the new stresses from becoming upperclassmen. Then the series entered Comic Book Time, and when Nagisa and Honoka returned for the Crisis Crossover after being offscreen for three years, they were still the same age.
The characters in Kochikame never age when the present date goes along with real life and being a Long Runner manga series for over 30 years. Kankichi Ryotsu's flashbacks always takes place 30 years in the past in the 1950s. Daijiro Ohara's grandson is the only character appear to age who was a toddler to now about ten years old.
Mitsudomoe will always be in the sixth grade, no matter how long it runs. Which is why so many Christmases have passed.
The characters from Ah! My Goddess have been college age for nearly 23 years now. Their surroundings keep getting adjusted to match the times. Even though Skuld has remained a kid for that whole time (except that one time), she doesn't count.
A bit of a supernatural one occurs in Spirited Away where it's implied that Yubaba's overly coddling of her son Boh made him stay physically and mentally a baby.
Inverted with Chihiro who was forced to grow up in several ways throughout the movie. She loses her parents, forced into a job via contract, nearly loses her name, becomes independent and falls in love.
Deconstructed in The Twelve Kingdoms. When kings are chosen to rule their nation they are granted immortality, along with their families. Princess Shoukei was 13 when her father became king, so she is locked at that age. However, her parents keep her sheltered and spoiled and do not allow her to grow up both physically and in maturity, so when her tyrannical father is overthrown decades later, she still looks and acts like a Royal Brat despite being chronologically in her forties. Learning to grow up and get past her stunted maturity is the major part of her Character Development.
A plot necessity in Detective Conan. Being a teenager trapped in an elementary school body, if time progressed linearly, he would have regained his age the long way over the 20+ years the series has run.
Used and lampshaded in Monica's Gang. The comic has been running for over 30 years, but the main cast is always 6. Every year, however, there's a special comic featuring a character's 7th birthday — which then snaps back and they're 6 again. In a recent example, someone asks Jimmy Five how old he's turning. "Seven," he replies, "just like evewy other year."
In the Fantastic Four, Reed and Sue's son Franklin was born in 1968. Aside from an incident of using his powers to temporarily age himself to adulthood, and the usual range of alternate reality versions, he has remained a child for more than four decades of real world time. The fact that he was injudiciously given a Story Breaker Power contributes heavily to the problem of ever letting him grow up. It is very glaring though, because characters that were born long after him are now either teenagers or actual adults.
Marvel's Kitty Pryde eventually escaped this fate, mostly because Warren Ellis wrote her into a romance with the much older Pete Wisdom. Jubilee, however, was introduced as a fifteen-year-old in 1989, and was sixteen in her short-lived self-titled series in 2004. Unless recent continuity has finally allowed her to age, she's probably still no older than sixteen. Although Marvel's time system says she should be 21 by that point.note Marvel officially says that 3 years real time is 1 year in the Marvel Universe. In practice this example is more of a rule than an exception. It's never explicitly stated, but she definitely looks a lot older in New Warriors. She was also shown running a halfway home for depowered mutants in Wolverine Origins. Its safe to say she's at least an adult of around nineteen or twenty these days.
Not anymore. The 2011 miniseries featuring her having to come to terms with hew new vampirism has explicitly stated that she's seventeen. Some sharp-eyed viewers pointed out that due to other continuity screwing in the X-Men comics, she's now younger than Pixie, who was the youngest of the New X-Men when introduced in 2004.
The New Mutants team were all 13 (Rahne) to 19 (Shan) years old when first seen in 1982. Until 2009, they looked only a year or two older, even when acting as teachers in the Xavier Academy. As of 2010, they have suddenly become officially twenty-somethings.
Crimebuster, a Golden Age non-powered hero, started off as a teenager in his 1942 debut and remained a teenager well into the early 1960s, only to suddenly and inexplicably start aging in real time when he stopped fighting crime and started going to college (as part of a post-Comic Code revamp). This was especially noticeable when his World War II era arch-nemesis reappeared in the 1950s and their WWII past was explicitly acknowledged.
None of the characters in Archie Comics age. The teenagers have been in high school for decades, with the exact same teachers and principal. In fact, the publication commonly tout Archie as the world's oldest teenager.
In Ultimate Spider-Man, Peter has been roughly 15 or 16 since the beginning. In 2000. Brian Michael Bendis even invoked this trope: "The Simpsons have kept their ages for more than a decade, we can do that too." He plans to have 100 issues equal 1 year, and if spider-man lives that long he will eventually be old enough to drink. Of course, it's academic now that Peter bit the dust.
The original Robin (Dick Grayson) was twelve years old for something like forty years. It was really only after Crisis on Infinite Earths that DC characters started aging, and even then characters often stay around the same age for a very long time. (Tim Drake was generically fourteen or so for much of his ongoing series, which ran from 1993 to 2009, for example.)
Batman himself is an adult, and does not age either. This troubled Frank Miller when he became older than Batman, so he wrote The Dark Knight Returns, about an aged Batman.
Jimmy is now an adult again, albeit a rather childish one. He got very offended when Toyman assumed he was a kid: "I'm twenty-two, you jerk!"
Green Lantern Kyle Rayner has been in his mid-twenties for about sixteen years. This is made even stranger when one takes into account that his best friend Wally West started out roughly the same age as him but has now been aged up into his mid-thirties.
For several years after his introduction, Kyle received enough abuse about his age to suggest that he was actually several years younger than Wally, who was in his mid-twenties by that point. However, 'several years' can only be fudged enough to put Kyle in his very early twenties at the time of his debut, and certainly can't explain a decade-long gap between the two.
Spider-Man and The Human Torch are interesting examples. Both started as teenagers, roughly the same age as the original X-Men. Both have been aged into responsible adults with wives, only for some writer to come along and turn back the clock. With the Torch it tends to be more his emotional age to maintain his place as the youngest on the Fantastic Four. However, after One More Day, Spider-Man is explicitly stated to be in his mid-20's, closer in age to the former New Mutants, than the original X-Men.
Donald Duck, Scrooge, and the nephews have been the same age since the fifties. The only Duck-writer who seems to avert this is Don Rosa, because his "present day" stories are all set in the fifties.
The main cast of Buck Danny were pilots during WW 2 and still are on active duty during the 90ies, since they never age.
In MAD's Gasoline Alley parody, despite the Skeezix-parody character aging rather rapidly between panels, another character remained an infant.
Years have been stated to have passed in Sonic The Comic but no one has aged. Certain characters appear to have aged but it's just their appearances making them look older; for example Amy looks older with her quills in a bob. Sonic's age has never been stated so it's possible he was ten to eleven at the start of the comics and has aged to his game counterparts age by the end.
Or even older given that Sonic was seen at Spike's Place a bar in the Metropolis Zone in Issue 82's story Running Wild and Knuckles was seen in a saloon in the story The Good, The Bad and The Echidna.
Averted and then played straight with Dennis the Menace from The Beano, originally the character looked quite young but as the years progressed Dennis got taller and ganglier so much so that by the 70s he resembled more of a teenager than a 10 year old boy. However after this the original artist stopped drawing the character and Dennis did not age for much of the 80s until the 90s when he got younger in part to make the character easier to animate.
A prominent literature example is The Hardy Boys. Through sixty-plus years, five book series and a total of 248 volumes, the Amateur Sleuths Joe and Frank were always 17 and 18 years old, respectively.
Assuming that both Joe and Frank were born on the same birthday, that would be about 1.47 days per mystery. They must be the most obsessed detectives in existence.
Averted in a short-lived series in the mid-1990s which aged them a few years: Joe was in college and Frank had a job at a newspaper(?). As it was only one season, though, we'll never know if they would have continued aging. Also, a script is underway for The Hardy Men in which they would finally be adults.
In the original Nancy Drew books, Nancy was always 16. In the revised versions, she's always 18. Either way, Nancy must have solved approximately 175 mysteries in the span of one year. If the multiple spin-off series are added in, it's even more mind-boggling.
Three words: The Boxcar Children. Over a hundred books, most of which take place over a whole summer, and not a one of them is past college age...
They age in the first 19 books, written by Gertrude Chandler Warner; Henry actually makes it to college age, and Jessie, Violet and Ben all have summer jobs... but the publishing company punched the Reset Button so hard that the characters were all slammed back to their original ages from book one when the series was turned into a Franchise Zombie after Warner's death.
The girls in the Baby Sitters Club series aged normally for the first 10 books (during which they all had their 13th birthdays) but were afterward frozen in time, although they often acted much older than 13-year-olds. This may have been a product of the series being ghostwritten after book 35. They were allowed to age again at the end of the series and graduate to high school.
The spinoff Baby Sitters' Little Sister had Karen age from six to seven early on, then froze her at "seven and a half" for the rest of the series, no matter how many holidays had passed her by.
The original Henry Reed books take place over three consecutive summers, and Henry and Midge (short for Margaret) age realistically (Henry from thirteen to fifteen, Midge a year younger). Enter the fifth book, written years later, and their ages are rebooted back.
In Richmal Crompton's Just William series, William Brown lives through the twenties, thirties, second world war and up to the first moon landings, all the while remaining 11.
Jennings is introduced at the age of 10 years 2 months, and thereafter remains permanently 11. There are few indications of precise external time, but he has far too many ends-of-terms for this to be plausible.
This is a prevalent trope in many children's series books. Prior to the 20th century, series-book characters aged in real time: witness the Rover Boys, who grew up, married, and eventually had to hand the adventuring off to the next generation of Rover Boys. The first set of children's-book characters who were Not Allowed to Grow Up (as distinguished from being prevented from growing up, as was the case with Dorothy Gale) were the Bobbsey Twins. In the original editions of their first several volumes, they aged in real time; but the editors at the Stratemeyer Syndicate soon realized the characters would age beyond their readership. So they, and their fellows Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, the Happy Hollisters, and many others, got caught in a chronological stasis, never aging beyond where the series began.
In-universe example in John Varley's The Golden Globe, the narrator, Kenneth Valentine, is an actor who had played the same child role for decades.
According to the books, James Bond was born in 1924. The books started in 1953, and the movies in 1962; his latest movie appearance was in 2012, where he most definitely did not look 88. His inability to age beyond early middle age is, if not taken as EON Productions simply adapting the stories to modern eras, considered proof of the theory that 'James Bond' is an alias assigned along with the designation 007, and there have been several people using that name/number combination over the decades.
In Galaxy of Fear, the protagonists were twelve and thirteen years old when Alderaan was destroyed, the series starts at six months after that, and ends around a year after the destruction. Their ages are mentioned frequently. In The Brain Spiders Tash says that she'll be fourteen in a few weeks, but while later books take place months after that she is still called thirteen.
The characters of the Stephanie Plum series don't age, although plenty of references to the passage of time are made (such as Stephanie's sister's marriage and subsequent pregnancy).
Connie Kendall in Adventures in Odyssey was an example for many years. She first appeared as a 16 year old and stayed that way for so long that several of the kid characters surpassed her age. This was later retconned so that she just ages very slowly: Connie is now in college, has been engaged, and runs a wedding business called Dreams by Constance, so she's allowed to age after all.
Live Action TV
An infamous and tragic example: Buffy from Family Affair. Actress Anissa Jones was contractually obligated to play the role and make promotional appearances with her breasts bound, her hair in Girlish Pigtails, and clutching the Mrs. Beasley doll even as she grew into her teens. This is often cited as a major factor in her eventual death by drug overdose.
The trope still affects some contemporary "teen dramas", forcing characters to remain teenaged and in high school for ridiculous periods of time, even as their actors age into and through their twenties. See also Dawson Casting.
Emmanuel Lewis, the star of Webster was twelve when he started playing the title role and seventeen when the show ended. His character aged only three years during the show's six-year run, from age five to eight.
Similarly, Gary Coleman's character Arnold on Diff'rent Strokes aged much slower than the rest of the cast. Coleman's kidney disorder meant that the actor never grew above 4' 8''.
The producers of Malcolm in the Middle were quite concerned about Frankie Muniz growing up, to the point where they filmed as many episodes as humanly possible in a very short period of time and then showed them on a regular schedule, so that Malcolm would appear to age more slowly. They are also preparing an animated version of Malcolm in the Middle that appears to be designed to avoid the characters' aging.
Later seasons, however, avert this to some degree; you can see Malcolm graduating from high school, applying for colleges, and Francis gets married.
SCTV parodied this with a Mockumentary in which Martin Short portrays a (former) child actor who has been the star of a Dennis The Menace-esque show called Oh, That Rusty! for thirty years. Rusty never ages, but the actor does. At one point, the show's producers start filming the show using oversized sets and props, and do some recasting... not for Rusty, but for his parents, who are now played by very tall basketball players (who also happen to be black, making for an inversion of the Diff'rent Strokes/Webster formula.)
Lost similarly removed Walt from on-screen appearances for two seasons when the actor playing him began to age more visibly, but brought him back once the progress of puberty had slowed somewhat. See Put on a Bus.
Though it was for different reasons than most shows. Where most shows that do this hold to a nebulous frozen time frame, Lost was on a strict timeline with the first four seasons covering a span of roughly 100 days during which Walt's puberty would have been implausible. He returned when the show's timeline jumped forward a few years catching up with his age.
During its short tenure, Century City explored two aspects of this trope: first, a child actor suing his parents over the right to take growth suppressant hormones to continue his acting career, and second, an elderly member of a Backstreet Boys-esque boy band suing his former band over a contractual dispute that forces all members to take gene therapy and other surgery to keep them perpetually boi-ish. Incidentally, both cases averted this trope: the child actor was convinced not to take the pills through an appeal to the wonders of growing up, and the boy band case was dropped after one of the members who went through the procedure died of old age.
Lukas: But he looked so young.
LazyTown provides a rare modern live action example. Julianna Rose Mauriello was 13 when she took the role of 8-year-old Stephanie, and was relatively believable as that age. She was 15 when the second season was shot, and is clearly a young woman rather than a little girl in those episodes (she doesn't even appear to have bound breasts, at least not consistently), yet no narrative time appears to have passed, and in one episode she is shown to be in the same grade school class as her young puppet friends. Fan theories on what happens next range from bringing in a Suspiciously Similar Substitute or The Other Darrin to doing an animated version, though many fans are emotionally attached to Julianna and hope that the show continues to use this trope, going so far as to suggest that she's already basically physically adult, and so not going to get much less childlike.
She was a month from 17 when the first season of LazyTown Extra was shot, so they're still using this trope for now.
After Punky Brewster moved from NBC, Soleil Moon Frye started developing early and went through a massive growth spurt. At first, producers dealt with the situation by binding her breasts while still playing the character off as, physically, a prepubescent child. When the premise became too unbelievable, Punky was finally allowed to have her puberty. The first episode that admitted Punky was growing up begins with Punky marching in on her caretaker at breakfast and announcing proudly "Henry, guess what? I'm getting boobs."
Made even more obvious by the fact that Soleil Moon Frye would eventually have to have breast reduction surgery at 16 because of gigantomastia.
Many plots of the later seasons of Leave It To Beaver had the title character getting involved in similar troublesome situations as the ones he got caught in as an eight-year old, causing the character's Flanderization into almost an idiot.
Case in point: "Beaver The Bunny". Would have been better in second or third season instead of fifth.
Appears for reasons unknown on Rome with Vorena the Younger and little Lucius. Vorena is at least eight years old when she first appears in the second episode, and Lucius is an infant. When the series ends roughly 20 years later Vorena is still played by the same actress and Lucius seems to be no older than five or six. Especially odd considering the fact that Octavian ages from twelve in the pilot to being in his thirties when the show ends, and Caesarion (who isn't even born until Lucius is around four years old) shows up being somewhere around ten years old in the last episodes.
Since they editors stated that they 'compressed the timeline of events' somewhat (i. e. didn't overly worry about historical accuracy), Octavian may be younger at the end of the series than he was when he actually came into power.
Inverted by long-running show 7th Heaven, in which seven-year-old Mackenzie Rosman was cast as five-year-old Ruthie Camden. By the very end of season 11, she'd matured so quickly that the character had been aged up to 18 — actually skipping over 2 years somewhere along the line.
In Sesame Street, both Gabi (Maria and Luis' daughter) and Miles (Gordon and Susan's adopted son) grew up in real time, while the Muppets depicted as kids, like Elmo and Big Bird, stayed the same. For example, in an anniversary episode, Elmo asks Grover about the thing what happened when he wasn't there. In the scene of Maria and Luis' wedding, Elmo talks like he wasn't there, but he's visible holding the ring in the wedding.
Archie Comics enforced this on Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Not on the characters, but on the show title itself, not allowing the show's producers to change the name to simply "Sabrina", even though Sabrina herself wasn't a teenager for the last couple of seasons. (Sabrina's actress, Melissa Joan Hart, was 27 when the show ended).
And boy did it start to show. She went from looking young enough to be late teens, early twenties, to the first episode of the penultimate season, where she and her college friends film a video with a genuine Vampire, the light strikes her, and wow, she suddenly looks much older.
Parodied in an episode of You Can't Do That on Television where the kids found out the network was secretly feeding them shrinking hormone to keep them from looking older.
While most of the kids on The Brady Bunch were allowed to age with their actors, the character of Cindy was forced to continue to wear her hair in pigtails far beyond what is normal for her age. Possibly this was done so as not to change the theme song, although technically her hair was braided, not curled in later seasons.
Grey's Anatomy has this but with adults. The first season only had nine episodes, so them still being Interns in season 2 was justified. There is, however, no excuse for them to be Interns for the entirety of season 3. Especially bad was their first year is established as starting on July 1st and the second season ended with a Prom (mid April at best, early June at worst). The fourth season began their second year, and they are currently third year Residents.
It helps though that the third season doesn't have any holiday specific episodes.
But the Ferry Boat incident that took place in the middle of Season 3 showed Winter weather, which is ridiculous.
Disney tried to enforce this on the Mickey Mouse Club via Suppressed Mammaries; The female Mouseketeers resorted to subversion (slicing the hated "foundation garments" with razor blades) when their protests proved unavailing.
The entire cast of That 70s Show. Eric turned 17 in the second episode (despite telling Red that he was 17 in the pilot). He then turns 18 in the third episode of season six.
Round the Twist starts in 1989, and finishes in 2000. The three Twist kids more or less stay the same - the two twins manage to de-age from 14 to thirteen, and Bronson is still in the same primary school class. To be fair, this is because the series was rebooted twice - first in 1992 (for one season) then in 1999 (for two seasons).
During the later seasons of Dennis The Menace, Jay North was getting a little too old to be running around in overalls and a cheesy cowlick.
The reason that Jon Provost left Lassie in 1964 was because, at age 14, he (rightly) believed he was too old to still play the "little boy with his dog". Mind you, the producers' intention was for him to play that exact character until he was 17!
Victorious is a modern example of this. The characters didn't age (or aged little) through the show's 4 seasons. Trina was a senior in season 1 and still a senior in season 4!
It's even more interesting the fact that iCarly shares the same universe of Victorious, but kids age (almost) in real-time in that show.
Buffy the Vampire Slayeraborted an arc to prevent this. During season one a vampire boy is introduced, who was planned to be the main villain for the second season. However, vampires don't age and the actor would age even over just that single year, so the boy was replaced by Spike and Drusilla, who casually got rid of the boy early in the second season.
The managers of the Puerto Rican Boy Band Menudo kept the group young by use of a simple method: every member would be obligatorily replaced when he reached his 16th birthday, his voice changed, grew facial hair, or got too tall.
Similar restrictions apply to the Vienna Boys' Choir, though the boys graduate when they turn 15. This, however, is for more realistic reasons. The Vienna Boys' Choir is an all-treble choir, so once a boy's voice drops, he no longer has a part. If his voice drops while his choir is touring, he is allowed to finish the tour, and the boys continue attending the same school, they simply do not sing in the famous choir.
This trope is especially common in newspaper comic strips. Peanuts and The Family Circus are the most egregious offenders, but the effect can become even more jarring in instances such as Sally Forth, where events continually occur that become part of the characters' canon history and define what is and is not possible for the continuing present, and yet the time needed for these events to have transpired has no impact on young Hilary's age. Quite the contrary, sometimes she even seems to be growing younger.
In the case of Peanuts, Linus miraculously nearly catches up to Lucy in age, nor is Rerun far behind; ditto with Sally and Charlie Brown.
Remember as well that Lucy herself, when she first appeared, was much younger than the other characters and was shown wearing footed sleepers and sleeping in a crib. Similarly, when Schroeder made his debut, the joke was not simply "playing Beethoven on his toy piano" but "a baby playing Beethoven on his toy piano".
FoxTrot uses this trope where the kids in the family still attend the same schools for the same amount of time for years since the first comic. Even though Peter and Paige sometimes plan what they want to do for college, they never actually get there.
And every year Paige has to deal with the stress of starting high school. That's pretty much awful.
When StarCraft II came out, Jason stated that he spent 11 years waiting for the game. He claimed the missing year was "waiting in the womb".
A recent strip had Jason refusing to acknowledge the new year because, as Rodger pointed out, "you really don't want to turn eleven". Jason says this is because Peter said he was eleven when he started liking girls.
Averted, however, by several strips, including the classic Gasoline Alley and the current For Better or for Worse. Skeezix, for instance, was a foundling infant at the beginning of the strip, and is now a man in his late nineties, while other characters quietly died of old age. The latter apparently has always been running in Real Time — characters who were babies and children ten and fifteen years ago are teens and married young adults now. Ironically, in 2007 creator Lynn Johnston announced her intent to semi-retire by resolving most of the ongoing storylines, narrowing the strip's focus to the family of now-grown oldest child Michael and "freezing" everyone's ages, essentially returning the strip to the format it began with. In the end, she went with the Continuity Reboot route of restarting the strip's story from the beginning, updating art and references when needed, with a few occasional new strips thrown in.
Maintaining a realistic connection to time forced Lynn Johnston to make the heartbreaking decision to kill the beloved family dog, Farley, since realistically his breed would not last much longer than (at the time) he already had. Friends and family tried to talk her out of it. Fans who caught wind of it got up in arms. Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts, is said to have told her that if she killed Farley, he would have Snoopy hit by a truck. But at least one friend managed to persuade her that he had to go out a hero, and Johnston wrote a storyline in which he dies saving April's life.
Brooke McEldowney's 9 Chickweed Lane quasi-averts this trope. McEldowney's characters specifically mention their own ages at times, leave high school, move to New York, quit jobs, buy a farm, etc. Though they are in motion and acknowledge the passing of years, they seem largely unaffected by that passage. For example, Edda's mother (who has to be around 50 by now) is still smokin' hot and Edda's grandmother shows no signs of infirmity.
Doonesbury started off embracing this trope but after Trudeau's mid-1980s hiatus it began half-heartedly averting it. Most of the original characters are supposed to be in their fifties or older, although they don't look it. Younger characters, though — particularly Alex, Jeff and Zipper — have been aging more or less in real time and have of late entered or even graduated from college. And in a case that spans both eras, Mike's second wife Kim started out in the 1970s strips as the adopted Vietnamese orphan who could only speak English in advertising slogans.
Note also that this trope doesn't seem to apply to every character. Uncle Duke has been in his late 40's since the mid-1970's, even as every other character has aged around him. No one seems to have noticed.
Given Duke's proclivities it's possible that he's accidentally and unknowingly stumbled upon a true anti-aging formula.
It hasn't been at all clear since the late '70s that Duke actually exists in the same continuity as the other characters. If it wasn't for the occasional brief visit from Zonker (his nephew) or Zeke (his ex-employee), he would never intersect with the rest of The Verse.
Funky Winkerbean kept its characters in high school for two decades before Tom Batiuk decided to employ a Time Skip to move them to post-collegiate age. More recently, another Time Skip has moved the original characters to middle age. These changes have accompanied a change in the strip's tone from gag-a-day humor to dramatic arcs.
Many fan works explore Calvin's later life. Most of the best ones (that is to say, a number of the actually funny ones) accept that whatever Hobbes' nature relative to the various realities of Calvin and those around him is, it hasn't changed since Calvin was six, and for the most part neither has Hobbes.
One popular theory is that the comic strip Frazz is what Calvin became when he grew up. The other involves Fight Club.
Nancy in all its incarnations (starting back when the comic was called 'Fritzi Ritz') has been 8 years old since 1933! This makes Dagwood look like he has progeria.
Dennis the Menace has had a sixth birthday — before returning to age 5.5 the next day — many times. Like children in The Family Circus and Peanuts, he has remained the same age. It has gone on so long that in the early 1990s, a rumor began on the Internet that the Dennis of the 1950s/1960s had grown up to become the inspiration for the dad in Calvin And Hobbes. Also like the others, Dennis has changed with the times, to where the family entered the computer age and got other new gadgets when they came out. However, his love of Westerns, which seemed oddly out of place in the 1970s and 1980s, can now be explained by cable TV.
The UK Dennis the Menace (from the Beano comic) subverted this in one issue in 2001 where Dennis was celebrating his 50th birthday (the 50th anniversary of his first appearance in the Beano comic), while the character still remained physically 10.
Dennis' sister Bea grew to the age of about 1 and got her own spin-off comic. Dennis didn't age though.
Both kept and subverted in the strip Blondie. Blondie and Dagwood have not aged significantly since their first appearance in 1930, 82 years ago. (If real aging were used, they'd both be hitting their century mark.) But they've had kids who have matured to college age — then stayed there. Daisy the Dog's puppies are perpetually half-grown, and have been for decades. The characters have evolved, though, as have the storylines. The original strip was about the relationship between the upper-class heir-to-millions Dagwood and the lower-class party-girl Blondie, with lots of Roaring Twenties-era class-conscious humor. Now it's about two working parents in the suburbs and their life. At some point another "growth spurt" may hit and they might be grandparents — but Blondie will still have her 1930 style hairdo.
Zbeng! is an Israeli newspaper comic about a high school class - the same characters since 1987. And of course it's always about the present day.
Little Orphan Annie seems never to age beyond about eleven. In a 1941 strip Daddy Warbucks recalls events from a 1931 story arc, saying, "I had Eonite ten years ago and lost it", and does not notice that his daughter has not aged significantly in those ten years.
The HellsingCrossover fancomic And Shine Heaven Now semi-lampshades this by Annie (by now in her thirties in 1998) claiming that she ages at the quarter of a rate of a normal human, due to being born on February 29th.
In Luann, the title character and her friends were approximately 15 years old when the strip began in 1985; in the ensuing decade and a half quarter-century they've advanced to roughly 16 or 17.
Mark Trailused to be allowed to age, but is now caught in a time freeze so powerful that even he can't punch his way out of it. He even occasionally revisits old storylines, trapped in an eternal loop where everything is the same except where censored to match the values of the outside world.
Perpetually-fifteen Jeremy of Zits was finally allowed to hit sixteen, fix his van, and get a driver's license a few years ago.
In Dilbert, the title character has remained in his thirties or so for over twenty years. Wally is perpetually an older worker coasting to retirement.
Garfield celebrates his birthday every year on June 19, the day the comic debuted. Sometimes, his actual age is mentioned and it's now more than double the average cat life expectancy. However, the longest-lived cat lived to thirty-eight and Garfield won't reach that until 2016. Odie, on the other hand, has overshot the lifespan of the longest-living dog. Also, Jon and Liz should be in late middle age by now.
Used in-story in Gypsy, where vaudeville child stars June and Louise have their real ages kept secret by their mother. Louise can't be sure how old she really is, having had parties celebrating her tenth birthday for several years in a row. (Given that Gypsy is a biography, and Mama Rose allegedly was that bad, this may also be a case of Truth in Television.)
Used very often in Annie, where the shuffling of orphans was usually done due to the onset of puberty (though some younger girls would move up to older girl roles). Thus, literally hundreds of girls played roles in the musical through its original Broadway run and four national tours. The documentary Life After Tomorrow interviews quite a few of the women who appeared in the original run, many of whom cited their last show as the worst day of their lives.
World of Warcraft's Anduin Wrynn was ten for quite a while. He finally got his age up (new character model) with the release of Cataclysm.
Both used and averted by the Donkey Kong Country series. While the original Donkey Kong grew old to become Cranky Kong, his wife Wrinkly passed away (though she returnedas a ghost) and Tiny Kong grew up from a little kid to being in her late teens, Diddy and Dixie Kong are still kids after 13 years. Since all the Kongs except DK himself were Put on a Bus after Rareware left for Microsoft, it is possible that not as much time has passed in the Donkey Kong universe as in Real Life. Kiddy Kong, the baby character from Donkey Kong Country 3, has not yet gotten off the bus.
It appears that Rare attempted to have Diddy age slightly in Diddy Kong Racing DS, in which his voice was deeper and appeared to have broken.
Drakengard has Seere, a six-year old boy who made a pact with a golem creature. The price for the pact was being unable to grow up. In Drakengard 2, he is now 24 years old, but still looks like a little boy.
In The Sims, at least the first one, where a baby grows up to be a child... and then can never age again, meaning that eventually, they hit their peak grade and can never accomplish anything ever again. The sequels introduced aging and allowed the children to grow up.
In quite a few of the Harvest Moon games, you're allowed to get married and have a child. After a few months of in-game time, the kid will move from being an infant to a toddler - and then never get older than that. Also true of all the other characters, since you can play for hundreds of years in-game, and no one ever gets older or dies.
While the first three Ace Attorney games take place over three years, all (except a few who change outfits, and only outfits) of the characters keep the same sprites throughout every game. Wright hand waves this, thinking that "maybe it's 'cause we're always together, but she looks pretty much the same to me".
The official Manga even lampshades the fact that Maya is 19, but looks (and acts) like she was still in her early-to-mid teens. Averted with Trucy and Ema, who grew realistically in the 7 years gap between game 3 and 4.
Even worse is Pearl. She starts out as 8, in her last appearance she's 10. She should have had a couple of major growth spurts by now, but they still use the same sprite, and her reading comprehension hasn't improved much.
Lampshaded in this Achewoodstrip. When the one-sentence capsule of a character is "Phillipe is five", then that's all there is to it. He recently celebrated his fifth birthday again.
Lampshaded even more cruelly in the "Philippe's Journey Home" arc, where Philippe makes a killing selling useless junk to rich people a la The Sharper Image and goes back to his mother's house, only to find out that his mother (apparently never completely stable at the best of times) has turned into an apathetic and somewhat spacey lady who lunches.
The protagonists of Sluggy Freelanceshould be approaching their forties, and Bun-Bun and Kiki are both a lot more spry than an animal of their age has any business being.
The guy shown here, here, and here has remained the same age through the whole series.
Batman The Animated Series had Baby Doll, a villain who was the living incarnation of this trope. She was a former child star, Mary Dahl, who quit the show that made her famous to try a more dramatic acting career. This failed, partly because she had a genetic condition that kept her looking like a child. She had a Freak Out and because obsessed with wanting to revive the show that made her famous and happy, by kidnapping her former colleagues to relive the show. She got better, though... apart from that thing with Killer Croc.
This may have been inspired by the movie What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? starring Bette Davis as a former childhood star who, despite being on the wrong side of 50, still dresses and acts the way she did when she was famous.
Mordred, the spoiled immortal son of Morgan le'Fay in Justice League, is kept an eternal child by his mother's magic, who's only willing to let him grow up once he has his perfect kingdom. Being a child for millenia has made him an Enfant Terrible of nightmarish proportions. He ended up breaking the spell, though, which caused him to become a helpless elderly man that his mother now has to take care of. She doesn't mind one bit.
One of the chalkboard gags has Bart writing "I should not be 21 by now".
Also brought to light in other ways; in early flashback episodes, Homer and Marge attended high school in about 1977; in season 18's "That 90s show", Marge then goes on to college almost immediately — but it's now 1994...
In "That 90s show," Bart also lampshades this trope by saying he's "never heard" of the 90s. Hey, after all, this episode aired in 2008, and Bart is only ten... Just like he was in the first episode in 1989, and during the entire following decade while The Simpsonspractically re-defined television!
One "appearance" in a K-Zone magazine featured Lisa being interviewed: when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she said something along the lines of "I used to want to be a jazz musician or the President. Now I just want to be nine!"
In one episode, Homer muses sadly about how work is keeping him away from his kids. "I'm missing out on Bart's whole childhood. He won't be ten forever!"
One particularly bad case is "Lisa's First Word". The entire episode is basically one long joke about The Eighties, when Lisa was born. Nowadays she can't have been born until this millennium. Pretty much all the flashback episodes must be Canon Discontinuity to some degree.
In one episode, Gil moves into their house for the best part of a year, as demonstrated by an Exploding Calendar stopping at each holiday. Notably absent are any of the characters' birthdays, which according to this episode must all take place between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
One recent episode centered around reviving the "Angry Dad" character Bart created during the late '90s Internet bubble. Those exact words were stated in the show, and no hint of an explanation whatsoever was given as to why Bart's still ten years old.
Matt Groening once pointed out in an interview that one of best parts of doing an animated show was the kids didn't have to grow up. He cited the absurd number of times they'd done a show about Bart's tenth birthday as an example.
Also used in the long-running Rugrats series, in which the title characters remained babies for a good decade or so. Eventually, however, they were aged up ten years for the All Grown Up! spin-off.
Taken to ludicrous lengths when baby Dil was introduced. If not from the sheer number of episodes, then at the very least, the number of holidays that passed before Dil was introduced would lead one to infer that close to a year must have passed from the beginning of the show. There was both a Christmas special and a Chanukah special, and a Passover special, and a summer vacation special (where they went to Las Vegas—your guess is as good as mine), and the three-episode season finale that set up Didi's pregnancy was almost pointedly set in autumn. Nine months later, maybe eight if it was a relatively brief pregnancy, Tommy is still just one year old, and after the time skip, their ages are 11 and 10. Pregnancy Does Not Work That Way!
However, floating timelines have their own conditions for each series, where with the Rugrats series, it is possible that the cast were stuck in the year of 1991 (when the series debuted) for 10 years, since no references to the current year or pop-culture were ever made, since the series is set in the point of view of infants and toddlers.
In the third movie, Chaz states that its his and Kira's first anniversary, yet the babies don't seem to have aged a day.
Sonic the Hedgehog has this trope in spades; none of the characters seem to grow any older than the age in which they were introduced, and some (like Tails or Charmy Bee) actually had their ages and mannerisms adjusted to be younger than what they were before. The comics avert this, however; a short-lived Twenty Minutes into the Future storyline (set 25 years after the main comics... and is ironically non-canon) shows a great deal of the Freedom Fighters older and wiser, and at least one character (Amy Rose) used magic to actually age herself up in order to become more active in the comic.
Sonic has also had several birthdays over the course of the comic's run.
Family Guy uses it and plays it for comedy, except Chris has moved up from junior high to being a freshman at Meg's high school. In an especially over-the-top example, Bonnie Swanson had been pregnant in her third trimester for nearly her entire tenure on the show; her unborn child is not allowed to grow up at all. Much like Stewie's aging freeze, it has not gone without some Lampshade Hanging. In the episode "Ocean's Three and a Half", which premiered just a month earlier than ten years after her debut, she finally gave birth.
Another example of this both subverted and played straight is the episode "Sibling Rivalry". In the episode, Peter ends up "donating" a large amount of sperm to a sperm bank. Over the course of the episode, enough time passes for a woman to get Peter's sperm, impregnate herself, grow the baby to full term, deliver the baby, and then for the baby to grow to be Stewie's age... except that, over this entire time period, no noticeable time passes for Stewie (who should be 1-2 years older by now).
Also, in "Back to the Pilot", Stewie and Brian go back in time from 2011 to 1997, where they meet themselves, despite the fact that both of them are less than ten years old (so they shouldn't have been born yet). Towards the end, a bunch of alternate-universe Brians and Stewies from 2011 show up - you'd think one pair would be a very old Brian and teenage Stewie, but no.
They go years into the future once again and no one has aged.
He's had at least one 11th birthday episode, and an Anniversary of meeting his fairies in one movie, whereupon his age at the time of meeting his fairies was retconned to 9.
This is actually to be averted, however, as a Live-Action Adaptation of FOP is in production with Timmy as a 23-year-old. However, he's still in 5th grade, but must face the choice of whether to grow up or not.
There's actually been a new episode where it is revealed Timmy actually wished that he—and everyone around him—would never age, and they've been living the same year for 50 years. However, everything at the end of the episode is reversed and people go back to aging, which makes the Live-Action Adaptation possible.
There is also a TV special where Timmy discusses how TV characters stay the same age, and this is his motivation for wishing for a magical remote that takes him "into the TV"
Mind you, there's plenty of reason to believe that he was referring to the fact that they are immortalized in reruns, as most of the affectionate parodies are of shows that have long since been canceled. They never age because they have no future, but rather loop endlessly.
Liberty's Kids takes place in the years 1773 through 1788. The main characters do not age even one year throughout the entire series. This is especially odd as notably several of the adult characters (especially Benjamin Franklin) get more and more aged as time goes on.
Daria has this trope to an extent. Time does pass in the show, season one through three was Daria's tenth grade, season four and five are 11 and 12 respectively. But characters' physical appearances never change, neither do their clothes, thanks to the Limited Wardrobe.
Quinn gets a new shirt at some point - it's near identical to her old one.
The other members of the Fashion Club change outfits every season of the show.
The core, classic stars of the Disney canon are forever the same age, while technology blooms and evolves around them with each passing decade. Mickey and Minnie Mouse are eighty years old, and yet still forever dating, living in separate houses, and working minimum wage jobs like young adults... with their co-stars not too far behind. Curiously, Goofy's son Max is the only one who seems to age: appearing as a child in Goof Troop, a teenager in A Goofy Movie, and then acting as a college kid in subsequent appearances. Donald's nephews seem to have only aged once in the show Quack Pack, but then quickly reverted back to their original ages everywhere else.
All Disney characters mentioned above are adults, but what do you think of Huey, Dewey and Louie? They've been kids for 73 years now! Same goes for Monty and Ferdie (Mickey's nephews), who have been kids since FRIGGIN 1932. Funny thing to point out here is that Huey, Dewey and Louie are actually 15 years older than their great uncle Scrooge. Oh, and they're 57 years older than their uncle Rumpus McFowl. Basically any Classic Disney Shorts character qualifies.
Shaggy: Yeah, we've been teenagers for, like, ever!
No one is really quite sure how time works in Amity Park, and many a fan have had a headache over trying to make a timeline. Continuity clearly exists, but the characters remain 14 and in freshman year through a Christmas and summer—not to mention, three years on the air. By the finale, following real time, they should all be seniors.
To be fair, they actually keep their age and grade as either ambiguous or remain mum later down the series' line. It makes theorizing how old they are much, much easier. One fairly consistent time-line seems to suggest that by the series finale, Danny is roughly 16 and in the first term of Junior Year.
Used very oddly in Franklin. Throughout most of the series, the kids were in kindergarten, but they were finally allowed to advance to the first grade in the DVD release Back to School with Franklin, which came after the fifth season. Best not to think about this at all when it comes to either Bear's little sister Beatrice or Franklin's little sister, Harriet. In the first season, Bear's sister was born, but a couple seasons later, he said that she was four years old. And Franklin's little sister wasn't born (yes, born, not hatched) until after the fourth season in the film Franklin and the Green Knight: The Movie. Yet by the next film, Franklin's Magic Christmas, she was already talking and walking and by the time of Back to School with Franklin, her speech had advanced and she was said to be just a year away from being able to attend preschool.
King of the Hill offered a variation on the Trope. Bobby actually ages a year or two on the show, but never hits puberty, and thus his character never really changes. This is explained in-series as Bobby being a late bloomer, but behind the scenes this is mainly because it would ruin his usage as a comic foil to his dad Hank and also require a change in voice actors. His friends Joseph and Connie have episodes that involve the onset of puberty (although Bobby is slightly older then them), and by the last episode, everyone in Bobby's class has hit puberty aside from him.
The boys in South Park took three seasons to go from the third grade to the fourth. The show is now in its fourteenth season and they're still in fourth grade.
In a Simpsons-like (Simpsons Did It!) age fix, the episode "You Have 0 Friends" shows Stan's birth year as 2001... even though there was an episode in the fifth season when the boys went to third grade in a post-9/11 situation.
Stan is shown having his tenth birthday party, and refers to the other main characters as also being ten. They were eight when the show started, so they are aging, just very slowly.
In the last couple of seasons of the 80s show, the Chipmunks had entered junior high. If the Chipmunks' uncle is anything to go by, they'd probably be a little taller as adults, but won't look or sound any different.
Both used and averted in The Flintstones, with Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm aged somewhat realistically throughout the years. In the series they grew from babies to toddlers in from seasons 3-6, in the TV specials of the 1970's they were young children, in the Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show they are teenagers, and in the TV specials "I Yabba Dabba Doo" and "Holly Rock-A-Bye-Baby" they are adults who marry each other and have children of their own. Their parents however have looked exactly the same throughout the series and specials.
It remains to be seen whether Futurama will use it. The adult characters don't need to have aged noticeably yet, but it has been over ten years in-canon (for instance, whenever the year is mentioned, its always 1001 years from the current year that the episode was first broadcast). "The Late Philip J. Fry" features aged versions of many characters. But Cubert and Dwight don't seem to have grown any in the canon present.
To complicate matters more the Cookieville Minimum-Security orphans (who are much younger), haven't aged at all. Though to be fair, how much can you expect orphans to grow when they're on a diet of books?
Amy also presents some problems, as her original concept was that she was in college and was an intern at Planet Express. The show would Lampshade this a few times, calling her a "long-term intern" in Bender's Big Score, for instance, but she was eventually allowed to graduate college.
The Powerpuff Girls. They were five years old in Craig McCracken's school film, the pilots, 75 series episodes in the space of five years (including an episode where they celebrate their birthday), a movie and two specials. Perhaps justified in that they were created in a lab.
Johnny Test: Lampshaded by Dukey in the episode "The Return of Super Smarty Pants" after Johnny had been taken over by his crazy Yandere pants created by his sisters in a previous episode that gave him intellectual abilities by imploring him to remember of all the times they spent together juxtaposed by flashbacks of episodes of their adventures since 2007.
Dukey: Remember me?! we've been together for years, but surpisingly haven't aged very much.
Arthur has been running for many years, but Arthur and his classmates are still in third grade.
Film studios had a particular aversion to child stars growing up to a large extent — how to manage a smooth upshift from adorable child star to Teen Idol wasn't really figured out until The Seventies. The most famous example was Judy Garland, who in The Wizard of Oz had her breasts strapped down so Dorothy Gale would be more childlike. Since most people haven't read the book(s), most modern viewers think Dorothy's supposed to be a teenager.
To put it in perspective, the initial casting for Dorothy was Shirley Temple, who fits the book description much better than Judy Garland. It worked out better.
Gary Coleman and Emmanuel Lewis were also cast because they were incapable of "growing up", due to their medical conditions. The former didn't have a happy ending.
Andy Milonakis has a similar condition that affects the aging process rather than growth; he isn't small in any dimension but still looks like a teenager in his mid-30s.
June Havoc got this treatment from her mother, as seen in Gypsy.
Shirley Temple was cast as an eight-year-old until she was well into her teens. In fact, it was only once she got married (at age seventeen, to a man who turned out to be a violently abusive Gold Digger) that Louis B. Mayer allowed her to appear in adult roles. She left show business completely after divorcing the Gold Digger and escaping Mayer's slimy clutches. Her last job? America's last Ambassador to Czechoslovakia.
Annette Funicello, on the original Mickey Mouse Club. Before they broke down and accepted it, they pulled many stunts to cover her chest. One method was positioning shorter Mousketeers in front of her, while another involved body doubles and tight closeups on her face. They probably would have canned her if it wasn't for her popularity.